People all across the world have been enjoying the benefits of charcoal grilling for centuries. The kind of charcoal you use, whether you’re a seasoned grill master or just getting started, is one of the most crucial elements in creating the ideal flavor and texture. But it can be challenging to choose from the many various varieties of charcoal that are currently on the market.
This article will examine the numerous kinds of charcoal that are frequently used for grilling, as well as their characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. We will analyze each variety of charcoal, from classic hardwood to charcoal briquettes and everything in between, to assist you in choosing the best one for your grilling requirements.
Additionally, we’ll go over the significance of choosing the proper charcoal for the food you intend to grill as well as some advice for getting the greatest results with each variety. Consequently, read on to find out more about the various kinds of grilling charcoal available and how to select the ideal one for your needs, whether you’re grilling up a traditional barbecue feast or experimenting with new recipes.
Cooking with charcoal has a long history, going all the way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians and Romans. When wood is heated in the absence of oxygen, water and volatile compounds are drawn out, leaving behind a carbon-rich substance that burns more efficiently and intensely than raw wood.
As diverse methods and techniques for producing and utilizing charcoal for cooking were developed over time, several kinds of charcoal for grilling also emerged. For instance, conventional hardwood charcoal manufactured from oak, hickory, or mesquite has long been a preferred option for grilling in the United States because of its robust flavor and strong heat production.
Charcoal briquettes were launched as a more practical and reliable substitute for conventional hardwood charcoal in the middle of the 20th century. These compressed charcoal blocks burn more evenly and slowly than standard charcoal and are frequently flavored with additional ingredients like mesquite or hickory smoke. They are typically created from a mixture of wood charcoal, coal, and other additions.
New kinds of charcoal, such as lump charcoal, coconut charcoal, and even bamboo charcoal, have lately come into existence. Natural hardwood is used to make lump charcoal, which is coveted for its big, crooked pieces that may produce a range of cooking temperatures and smoke tastes. The sustainable and clean-burning qualities of coconut charcoal, on the other hand, are made from the husks of coconuts.
Types of Charcoals
There are various kinds of charcoal that are frequently used for grilling, and each has its own special qualities and traits. Some of the more common varieties are listed below:
1. Lump charcoal
This is one of the well-known ones that we mentioned you must have seen. It is created by the carbonization process, which calls for a distinct collection of raw components. One of the greatest in the business is this kind of charcoal.
Its carbonization process is frequently so successful that all that is ultimately left is carbon. That is, not much organic material is present to degrade the quality of the lump charcoal.
Though not always, this is accurate. For larger sizes of lump charcoal, the degree of carbonization complete can vary somewhat. In other words, the wood used to make lump charcoal doesn’t completely burn. As a result, the smoke taste that you’ll find in your meat may vary. Some others, however, view that as a positive.
This kind of hardwood typically burns at extremely high temperatures due to its distinctive characteristics. greater than the majority of charcoals. However, due to the intensity and speed of burning, you should exercise caution:
- Food may burn more quickly than you’d want.
- The charcoal you have will burn out quite rapidly.
2. Charcoal Briquettes
You might be surprised to learn how old this kind of charcoal is. It goes through fire to attain its optimum state, just like gold. Similar to other types of charcoal, it often requires several days of low-oxygen burning to provide the ideal results.
Briquettes of charcoal are typically relatively affordable. They can be bought in large quantities without necessarily breaking the bank. They typically burn quite slowly and at lower temperatures than lump charcoal. They are ideal for your slow-roasting culinary adventures because of this.
However, if you need to grill a lot of food in a short amount of time, your lack of speed can become a disadvantage.
Other types of charcoal might not be able to be produced. However, this is not the case with charcoal briquettes. Of course, creating it from scratch may be a time-consuming and messy procedure. However, it is hardly impossible.
3. Hardwood Briquettes
Hardwood is used to make this kind of charcoal. Producers don’t typically let it take whatever form it can, though. Instead, they take the necessary precautions to guarantee that they emerge in the same shape and consistency.
This kind of charcoal is frequently quite dense. As a result, heat moves through them more slowly and they burn more slowly.
These charcoals can be a little more expensive than others because of the labor-intensive process needed to make them, among other factors. However, if you’re the kind who grills frequently, you might find it satisfying despite the expense.
They are ideal for slow roasting needs because of their rapid burning. It will be ideal for you, for instance, if you want to host or attend an all-day grilling event. This is so that your barbecue wouldn’t burn as soon. Consequently, you won’t have to check on it as frequently, giving up time for socializing.
4. Coconut Shell Charcoal
Coconut shells are the kind of material you wouldn’t think to use to make charcoal. These items are frequently written off as useless and put to the side. Many individuals stop caring about it, especially once the coconut has been removed. However, it makes a great material for charcoal.
They don’t burn in the conventional manner, which is what makes them interesting. This kind of charcoal is produced using distillation rather than carbonization. It frequently burns longer and stronger than conventional charcoal as a result.
The primary disadvantage is that it isn’t extremely prevalent. Of course, where you are will determine this. Coconut shell charcoal doesn’t have a distinctive scent or aroma other than that. However, it’s still a great grilling utensil.
The likelihood is that you’ve never heard of this before, especially if you thought coconut shell charcoal was unusual. A unique variety of charcoal called binchotan has been used for many centuries.
Naturally, it takes a while for different types of charcoal to get ready. However, this particular “species” can burn continuously for several weeks before the finished product is produced.
These charcoals are often produced from Japanese oak trees. Consider leaving that particular demography. If so, you might be close to producing a completely other kind of charcoal. But this charcoal stands out for other reasons as well.
Binchotan charcoal makers can use the tree branches to accomplish the same task as other charcoal makers who split wood. After receiving the raw material, they frequently burn the wood for up to three weeks at extremely low temperatures. To guarantee consistency, this is pure.
Naturally, this kind of charcoal may not be available everywhere. Even still, knowing that it exists is interesting.
Which is the best among them?
It’s not as simple as you might assume to provide a solution to this. The finest kind of charcoal for your requirements, however, largely depends on what you need it for.
If you want speed, lump charcoal, for instance, will quickly prepare your meal. However, burning with hardwood briquettes will take longer, giving you more time to do other things. Thus, as we previously stated, the greatest genuinely relies on your needs.
We recommend learning more about the differences between lump charcoal and briquettes in order to make the best decision for you. Also take into consideration your goal and the price of the charcoal.
We all concur that using charcoal for grilling may improve the flavor of anything, whether you choose a lump or briquette. Depending on what you are cooking, each kind of charcoal has a specific application. As a general rule, lump charcoal works well for quickly grilling thin slices of meat and vegetables, while charcoal briquettes are a great option for all-day grilling because they maintain a constant temperature for a longer amount of time. Select the charcoal you believe will work best for your needs.