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How to add charcoal

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Post Sat Aug 02, 2003 2:39 pm
bigwolff raw
raw

Posts: 1
Hi,
I am a new addition to the world of smoking.
I just bought a drum smoker with a fire pit on the side.
My question is, when adding charcoal to the smoker, is it wise to add unlit charcoal directly to the fire pit on the side, or should you light it in the chimney first and then add it. Seems like all the fumes would not be good for the taste of the food if you just added it to the fire pit.
Thanks

Post Sat Aug 02, 2003 9:57 pm
WeberBoy rare
rare

Posts: 26
Location: Southeast PA
I add unlit coals to my smoker and notice no foul taste at all. Of course this is regular charcoal, not charcoal treated with lighter fluid.

WeberBoy
Image

Post Sun Aug 03, 2003 7:13 pm
Luke medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 89
Location: Texas

If you use natural lump charcoal (and you should use natural lump charcoal) there is no problem with adding it straight. It may however kick up your temperature as it ignites. You can also use a chimney starter to start the coals and then add them.
Live Different

Post Mon Aug 04, 2003 1:05 pm
chagan well done
well done

Posts: 1350
Location: Central NJ by way of NY
If you are using natural lump, just add it in, if not- start it on the side, unless you and your's don't notice any substantial difference and you are not planning on entering any BBQ contest.

Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:07 am
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
This reminds me of a question I've been wondering about. Saint Steven recomends using a chimney starter to add coal to the fire on the hour.
What about adding whole logs? Seems like it would be a little harder to duplicate the procedure with whole logs and the tendancy to spike the temp could be greater too.
How do you veterans use whole logs? I'm a recent convert from Propanism (propane-ism) to the Horizontal Smoker.
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:54 am
Craig medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 63
Location: North Carolina
When I use whole logs, its usually for a large pit. I use a barrel with a grate inside it to hold the logs put into the top. To get coals, just whack the side and get them with a flat shovel out of the barrel's bottom.
To use on a smaller scale, get a chain saw and cut the logs into 1-2 inch discs. These will break into fairly large chunks that be lit in a chimney starter. Once this gets going it will burn hot and fast so you may have to play with the draft a little till you get a feel for the heat. And remember that fresh cut green wood will not need to be soaked. If you can, start your fire with dry wood to warm everything up, then switch to green wood for smoke and a longer lived fire. Don't bother with the starter after the fire is going just toss the wood right on the previous coals.
I know this sounds involed, but after a little practice, it'll be second nature. I use this method when cooking pork butts on a Weber kettle (2 butts will fit in the middle) I BBQ for 5-6 hours at appx 235-250 degrees, mop every hour, then shred into Carolina pulled pork.
When cooked this way, the flavor cannot be approached by any other method. I hope that this helps. Good Luck!!!!
Great Grilling, Craig

P.S. Pork= Hickory & Beef= Hickory or Mesquite (not the law but predominate favorites)

Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:37 pm
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
Thanks Craig,
That does help. It also raises some other questions too. I'm sure the best way to work out a lot of these details is to put it into practice hands on and I look forward to doing that.
1st question: I didn't think you could use green wood at all-that it could damage your eqipment and your food. So were all on the same page, cured wood is wood that has been cut and sitting around for at least 6 months right?
2'd question: This barrell with the grate in the top for getting coals out of whole logs, is this a totally separate piece of equipment from what your food is cooking in? I'd wondered about keeping a chiminea around for dealing with whole logs the way you would use a chimney starter.
3'd question: Once the initial coals have started, you said there's no need to use a starter for replenishment if you replenish with either green wood or soaked cured wood. Am I reading that right?
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:00 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Howdy Craig,

I too was wondering about the use of green wood. Along with the concerns for equipment, I understand that green wood used for cooking can leave food tasting bitter. Is this your experience? Every resource I've consulted says to use seasoned wood in the grill and fireplace.
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Post Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:25 pm
Craig medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 63
Location: North Carolina
Evening all, hope everyone is recovering from the weekend nicely!
Hey Vinsect, and Bob BQN, maybe I can answer those wood questions for y'all.
I should have been more specific about the green wood.
First, yes it can make food bitter, but this can be avoided by taking the bark off.
Green wood will not damage your gear or food, provided it is always a hardwood, I know people that have tried to BBQ a pig with pine, yes pine, not good. If you don't eat the pig you could always use it as an air freshener. Anyway, the sap in a green hardwood will impart a more pronounced smoke flavor than the same wood dry. Green wood will also be harder to start than dry, unless a fire is already going.
Second, if I am using my kettle grill, I get dry hickory fired in my chimney and load my side baskets. You add 10-12 briquets per hour with charcoal, I add 4-5 chunks of green hickory per hour. You must pay attention to the temp doing this because if the draft is to little the fire shuts down, and vice versa. Wood needs more babysitting than does charcoal, make no mistake.
Third, yes the barrel is a seperate piece of equipment that is really unneeded for most applications, but for kicks, here what mine is like: It is a 55gal drum with the top cut out, and a 1 foot by 2 foot rec. cut at the bottom. The grate is just above the bottom hole and is made out of expanded metal with 2 inch holes. I use this when our family has the reunion type cookouts with about 150- 200 people. We'll get a truck load of green hickory
a bunch of beer, tell three lifetimes worth of lies, and in about 12 hrs it is time to eat.
Oh, almost forgot, wood cured for 6 months and kept out of the weather is good and
well dried.
Wood for me is the way to go. I was taught by my 85 year old great uncle who really had no sense of humor when it came to BBQ'n. It was all about time (a lot) and temp (not a lot). And I will be the first to admit it took me a long time to learn. But once I did, man what a difference. The one thing I wish he did teach me was how he cooked and never used a thermometer. Maybe someday, guess I'll have to grill more often to develop the skill! I hope this helps guys.

Take the pane out of propane..... Go with the wood!
Craig

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 9:02 am
dkirn well done
well done

Posts: 388
Location: St. Louis, MO
I know that Craig has direct experience using the green wood, but everything that I have ever been told or read described green wood as a definate no-no. If there are others that use green wood I would love to hear about it but it is my understanding that it is something that you should not use.

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 10:28 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
This thread proves that our favorite past time is not all science, (X amount of temp TIMES Y amount of time EQUALS great Que) but that there is a great deal of art involved! Each have their unique brush strokes to add to the final piece. If green hardwoods have been used in BBQ’ing for generations, then it reasons that either; it doesn't affect the flavor as much as we've been told, or it's an acquired taste.

Craig, you’ve certainly opened up an interesting area for discussion. After searching the Internet I’ve found many sites that say never use green wood and almost as many that recommend using green woods. For example I searched GOOGLE.COM using the keywords: green, hardwood, smoking, barbecue, very eye opening research.
:shock:
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Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 2:53 pm
Airfoils well done
well done

Posts: 1063
dkirn wrote:
I know that Craig has direct experience using the green wood, but everything that I have ever been told or read described green wood as a definate no-no. If there are others that use green wood I would love to hear about it but it is my understanding that it is something that you should not use.


Actually, many commercial smokers recommend nothing but green wood. Soaking wood in water is in a way reviving them to their green state. Biggest difference between green and dried is dried is devoid of water. Where did you read that using green wood is a no-no? I don't recall Steve saying that so it must be another book. Thing with green wood though is it's not particularly available to the common backyard grill meister like ourselves. It's normally bought in bulk (BBQ joints). So soaking them in water is the best we can do to approximate it. Only difference to the taste that I can tell is green or wet wood provides more smoke. I've heard people say wet is milder but it doesn't seem that way to me, just smokier since of course green wood puts off more smoke. I wouldn't get to worked up about it. Use whatever you want as long as its a hardwood and not pressure treated or otherwise treated with chemicals.

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 8:41 pm
Craig medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 63
Location: North Carolina
Man, I seem to have opened the can of worms here!
I suppose that the green wood may be an aquired taste, and I have been using it forever. But remember, dried wood loses some flavor because the sap is not present with the water. Soaking will enhance smokiness, but can't impart a, for lack of a better term, tanginess of green wood. My opinion of course, others may not have had the same results. I know some people that use green wood simply because it lasts longer, the taste is just an afterthought. I know that sounds sacreligous but those people do exsist.
The downside to green wood is as was said: avalability. I have been blessed by living way out in the country. And the uncle I refered to owns a large tract of old timber in central Virginia. This is where I get my hickory. Green white oak is what I use if I can't get at the hickory. This is more plentiful wood locally. Not as pronounced in flavor as hickory, but not bad, not bad at all. As with anything else, pros and cons abound. But, as long as we are all still grillin' and experimenting, how could we ever go wrong. We need to hear the guru on this one, and see what his take is, If anyone has tips Sir Steve does.
Great discussion guys, fun and then some!
Craig

THE ONLY BAD GRILL IS A COLD GRILL

Post Tue Jan 20, 2004 9:25 pm
ThrRoff well done
well done

Posts: 999
Location: Washington, DC

I usually use pretty dry oak -- we live in an oak forest. As I noted in another thread here, I recently was given a bunch of very nice apple wood. So far I have used it to smoke a goose and some salmon, and I thought the taste was fantastic. I use lump charcoal to start my fires, so starting was not a problem. I did have to keep a close eye, and add additional wood before the fire cooled much. Put me down as a fan of greenish wood.

Post Wed Jan 21, 2004 5:52 am
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
Craig,
Thank you for your detailed replies. Also, thanks to the rest of you who have joined in. This is really becoming an interesting thread.
Craig, you obviously speak from generations of experience and aren't just a newbie on this. One thing I'm hearing consistently is that bark should be removed whether the wood is green or seasoned. I wonder if those that have had bad experiences with green wood were using approved hardwoods with bark removed.
I'd like to propose that a Green Wood thread be started as it sounds like this is a subject for ongoining discussion and research. Craig, since you have experience on that would you do the honors?
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

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