Are you looking for a great way to cook meat? If you are a barbecue enthusiast, using lump charcoal for grilling can help in so many ways. For people who don’t know much about lump charcoal, it?s time to discuss some of the great benefits. After all, it?s handy to know the best ways to make your meat and vegetables taste amazing using charcoal. But also, show you some of the best lump charcoal products to choose from.
What Is Lump Charcoal?
Lump charcoal, very simply, is a term to describe charred wood that has not been pressed into briquettes. Lump charcoal tends to be made from logs or tree limbs burnt in a kiln without oxygen. When it comes to grilling food, lump charcoal is the most natural method. These days, while there’s so many additives or fillers put into briquettes, many are looking for an all-natural way to get that smoky, natural taste. For the avid barbecue enthusiast, lump charcoal provides a way to grill food authentically, but without any nasty by-products that detract from the overall taste.
The Different Types Of Charcoal
As it can be a minefield to buy the right one, all you need to know is that there are four different types to choose from:
These are made from wood by-products. From a barbecuing perspective, they don’t add any flavor to the food. While these can burn longer than natural charcoal, they are mixed with a binder and additives.
These are charcoal briquettes with wood shavings glued onto them. The smoky smell it adds to your food comes directly from the wood shavings. The big issue with this is that your food could end up too smoky due to the abundance of wood shavings on each piece. If you want your flavors subtle, it’s worth trying something else.
Match light charcoal
This is a charcoal briquette pre-soaked in lighter fluid. This is easy for those people that need to barbecue quickly, as it lights up fast. If you don’t want a strange taste in your food, it is worth staying away.
Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Also known as natural charcoal, these chunks of wood are exposed to high temperatures that burn away until all you have left is the carbon. When you are looking for a way to cook meat at a high temperature, hardwood lump charcoal can withstand a lot of what you throw at it, and give your food a smoky flavor. But as many amateur cooks tend to go for the cheap and bulky items, lump charcoal can get short-shrift.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Lump Charcoal?
When you compare lump charcoal to briquettes and other products out there, there are some distinct advantages. Lump charcoal is made of all-natural ingredients. Briquettes tend to be full of additives which can result in quite an unpleasant taste in your food. Lump charcoal gives your food a nice smoky flavor without any unpleasant aftertastes. Lump charcoal is perfect in a barbecue, as it burns hotter than briquettes. And, it can reach a temperature of up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. As lump charcoal only takes about 10 minutes to light in comparison to briquettes taking around 20, it’s a quick way to get your barbecue going!
What To Think About When Buying Lump Charcoal
As lump charcoal is, for the most part, additive-free, you can guarantee a lovely taste from your meats and vegetables without any lingering chemical tastes in your food. But how do you know if it’s good quality? Many charcoals can still use fillers, binders, and additives, which is why you need to look for the ?100% Natural? label. When you buy lump charcoal, examine the consistency. Good quality lump wood charcoal has similar-sized pieces, very little dust, and will burn longer. The big thing you’re looking for is no excessive sparking during the grilling process. Many amateur barbecue enthusiasts love the look of a barbecue sparking. While it certainly looks like a mini firework display, the charcoal will burn fast because it has come from lightweight wood. This tends to be a sign that you’ve got a cheap brand. Another thing to consider when purchasing lump charcoal is the source where the wood has come from. Lump charcoal tends to be sustainable in their wood usage. Also, as most providers in the United States undertakes sustainable practices, this doesn’t have to be a concern. But, it?s certainly worth checking!
Choosing The Right Lump Charcoal
Picking the right lump charcoal doesn’t have to be difficult. For the amateur, it can be quite an overwhelming process because there are just so many brands out there. But, all you have to do is look at two simple things: the type of wood, and the size of the pieces. When you look at the type of wood, certain brands have a mixture of mesquite, as well as other hardwoods. This ensures that the meat has a strong smoky smell without any overwhelming flavor. It’s your personal choice as to what you want, especially as certain woods give certain scents. It also depends on the type of food that you want to make. For example, hickory wood works great when you are grilling pork. When you are looking for the right lump charcoal, think about the size of the pieces. Every bag can contain irregular pieces, and this depends on the type of wood that the charcoal came from. But this is when you have to think about the type of barbecue you want: a long, all-day event, or a small, modest affair. Larger pieces will burn hotter and take a lot longer to burn out, but smaller pieces could burn quick, and potentially spark. When it comes to outdoor barbecues, it’s best to look for a brand that offers larger size charcoal.
The Top Lump Charcoals For Grilling
My rating –
Touted as restaurant-quality, this “wicked good” charcoal is packaged in a heavy-duty Kraft paper bag that stores the charcoal safely. The pieces of charcoal inside are also pretty heavy-duty. This means reduced dust, resulting in less waste.
Pros and Cons:
|With 100% natural ingredients from South American hardwoods, as well as no sparking or popping, it becomes a worthwhile option for a cookout.||The packaging can be a little dusty, but this is part of using lump charcoal|
|The flavors of the smoke are mild without overpowering, giving you the opportunity to cook with various meats, even subtle ones like fish||The charcoal can be temperamental, which requires more adding to the barbecue|
|It blends easily with other woods, so you can mix up the flavors|
|The packaging is waterproof and resealable, which is great if you need to store it over winter|
My rating –
One of the most famous grill makers in the world, Kamado Joe prides itself on delivery and consistency. The charcoal comes in a heavy-duty paper bag, but does the charcoal stand up?
Pros and Cons:
|The heavy-duty paper bag gives it extra security and protection from humidity and crushing||If you don’t want a strong flavor, and if you don’t like oak, even though it’s a mix of Argentinian hardwoods, it might be worth staying away|
|This Argentinian hardwood is processed ecologically; great for the ethically minded out there||It can seem overpriced. While you might be paying for the brand, it still doesn’t guarantee you good value for money|
|The pieces are, for the most part, pretty large, giving you a longer burn and better ignition||While it advertises big lumps, some reviewers have found that the bag can be a third or half full of smaller chips|
|It’s incredibly durable! It can last over 5 hours, giving you the opportunity to really put it to the test at a day-long cookout|
|The food gets a very strong wood flavor, which could mean that it’s got some oak inside|
My rating –
Coming straight from the heartlands of Missouri, this brand uses premium oak, hickory, and maple. The lump charcoal is made from hardwood leftover from timber milling, ticking the ethically-sound box!
Pros and Cons:
|The burn temperature is around 900 degrees F||It can be difficult to light. If you’re looking for a quick barbecue, this can take a bit longer to get going in comparison to other brands|
|It produces very little ash||It can make a lot of smoke after lighting. Be careful if there are children around!|
|Medium-sized pieces work great to produce a long burn time||It takes up much space due to the density of the coals|
|The smoke is nice and mild. For those barbecue enthusiasts looking to cook delicate fish or chicken, this is a good match||Some reviewers have complained that the bags contain broken concrete|
|The packaging is paper-based and the inks are made from soy making them recyclable and friendly to the planet|
My rating –
The Cowboy brand is one of the longest standings in the cookware industry. Providing various popular products, Cowboy’s lump charcoal is one of their biggest sellers.
Pros and Cons:
|Long burning, up to 8 hours, guarantees a good quality barbecue||The pieces can be inconsistent in size – you would have to wade through to find the perfect lumps for your barbecue|
|Little ash production||There is a chance the lumps can spark for a long period of time, which isn?t too helpful|
|The flavor is authentic and gives that smoky sensation without overpowering the food||Inconsistent sizes mean lots of broken pieces, making it frustrating to get the grill going properly|
|At just over $33, it’s a good value for money for a 20-pound bag|
My rating –
A 100% natural lump charcoal, coming from mainland Texas, and touted as the ?expert?s choice,? this has been famous across the US for many decades.
Pros and Cons:
|That authentic Texas-style lump charcoal is perfect for red meat and pork||The lumps can seem small, so if you want long-burning charcoal, you have got to go for bigger pieces|
|The 100% natural oak lump charcoal gives meats a mild flavor||It burns incredibly bright. In fact, it’s a bit like the 4th of July! Be careful if you burn a huge amount because embers tend to fly!|
|Natural oak is environmentally friendly, giving buyers peace of mind when they are looking to be ethical in their barbecue practices||When you compare this to other lump charcoals out there, there seems to be more waste|
|Some reviewers have found random materials in their bags, including plastic, and even a shard of glass!|
Who Is The Winner?
It was hard to pick a winner, but we’ve got to go for the Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal. With 100% natural ingredients from good quality South American hardwood, it ticks the boxes for the barbecue enthusiasts looking to stay away from additives.
Many lump charcoals run the risk of smoking too much which could overpower the meat. This has such a mild flavor, you can use it with all sorts of meats, from juicy pork to light and subtle fish, to a chunky steak. The lumps don’t spark, giving you extra peace of mind when cooking with children around, and it also saves your clothes! It works well with other woods too, allowing you to experiment with different flavors. Convenience is key with this one because it heats up so fast. Also, for those that don’t like cleaning up at the end of the day, there’s very minimal ash, making it a time saver. The manufacturers have clearly thought about temperamental weather conditions. The resealable and waterproof packaging makes it incredibly convenient.
Buying the best lump charcoal is quite the experience if you don’t know where to begin. Many barbecue enthusiasts have their own preferred brands. But, when you’re looking to change your barbecue, and add a bit more flavor to your meats, the right lump charcoal can really light a fire under your barbecue!