Summer is here, and with it comes the season for outdoor barbecues. Whether you’re a seasoned griller or just starting, one of the most crucial factors to consider when preparing your barbecue is the charcoal you use. With plenty of options, choosing the best charcoal for BBQ can be daunting. This article will guide you through the different types of charcoal available and provide tips on selecting the best one for your needs.
Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes
The first decision you must make when selecting charcoal is whether to use lump charcoal or briquettes. Lump charcoal is known for its intense heat and unique flavour, so many seasoned grillers prefer it over briquettes. Lump charcoal is made from hardwood that has been burned down to create charred wood pieces, which are then bagged and sold.
Briquettes are an excellent choice if you’re new to grilling and want a more predictable fire. They’re less expensive than lump charcoal and often burn longer and more consistently. Conversely, briquettes are made by compressing sawdust and other wood scraps into uniform shapes.
Another essential factor to consider when selecting charcoal is flavour. Different types of wood used to make charcoal will impart unique flavours to your food. For example, charcoal made from oak or hickory will give your food a smoky, woodsy flavour, while charcoal made from mesquite has a more robust and intense flavour. If you’re looking for a specific taste, research the type of wood that’s used to make the charcoal you’re considering.
The burn time of your charcoal is another critical consideration. Some charcoals burn longer than others, which can be helpful if you plan to cook for an extended period. If you’re grilling for a large group, choose charcoal with a longer burn time, so you don’t have to stop and add more charcoal to your grill. However, if you’re cooking for a shorter time or want more control over the temperature, you may prefer charcoal with a shorter burn time.
Charcoal comes in different sizes, and the size you choose can impact your grilling experience. Larger pieces of charcoal will burn hotter and longer than smaller pieces, making them a good choice for larger cuts of meat that require more cooking time. On the other hand, smaller pieces of charcoal will burn faster and cooler, making them ideal for smaller cuts of meat or quick grilling jobs.
Like most products, charcoal comes at different price points, and the cost can be an essential consideration when selecting the best charcoal for your BBQ. Lump charcoal is generally more expensive than briquettes but often provides a more intense flavour and burns hotter. On the other hand, briquettes are less costly but may not offer the same depth of flavour as lump charcoal. Consider your budget and the importance of taste and burn time when deciding on charcoal.
Ease of Use
Finally, consider the ease of use when selecting your charcoal. Some charcoal brands are easier to light than others, which can be helpful if you’re short on time or patience. Some brands also produce less ash than others, making clean-up easier. If you’re new to grilling, you may want to select a charcoal that’s easy to light and produces minimal ash.
In conclusion, choosing the best charcoal for BBQ requires consideration of several factors, including the type of charcoal, flavour, burn time, size, cost, and ease of use. By weighing these factors and experimenting with different brands and types, you can find the charcoal that’s right for you. Remember to store your charcoal correctly, maintain your grill, and have fun experimenting with different recipes and techniques.