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Barbecue (alt.food.barbecue) Discuss barbecue and grilling--southern style "low and slow" smoking of ribs, shoulders and briskets, as well as direct heat grilling of everything from burgers to salmon to vegetables.

Wood vs Charcoal?



 
 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 16-07-2009, 01:34 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
jj
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Posts: 99
Default Wood vs Charcoal?

A newbie question about wood vs charcoal. (lump not briquets)

Is the main advantage of charcoal that all the sap/creosote/"low
volatiles (aka wrong or harsh/rough smoke) have been burned off
already so these won't contact your meat and impart undesireable
flavors?

So by adding water soaked wood chips, the BBQer can better control the
timing and amount of the "right" or "smooth" smoke?

Does this mean that most/all "serious" BBQers who use wood first burn
the wood down to coals away from the meat and then transfer the coals
to the smoker?

I've got a lot of smaller mesquite cuttings and now I am thinking I'll
burn em on a scrap steel plate and then shovel the coals/embers into
the ECB.

Hey I'm learning!

JJ
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 16-07-2009, 02:24 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Posts: 260
Default Wood vs Charcoal?

On Jul 16, 5:34*am, (jj) wrote:
A newbie question about wood vs charcoal. (lump not briquets)


Doesn't sound that newbish actually. Not many wood users here that I
can tell, I'm very much a neophyte using wood, hell, don't have the
space or wood regularly available or to make a burn barrel to burn
wood down to coals, though I'd sure like to. So take my observations
for what they are, just a fellow wood newbie.


Is the main advantage of charcoal that all the sap/creosote/"low
volatiles (aka wrong or harsh/rough smoke) have been burned off
already so these won't contact your meat and impart undesireable
flavors? *


That's one, lump's also a bit more uniform and easier to use for more
applications, e.g. grilling.


So by adding water soaked wood chips, the BBQer can better control the
timing and amount of the "right" or "smooth" smoke?


Well, it depends on the type of lump you buy, my local stuff tends to
be left a bit raw, with a bit of wood in it and it can actually
produce a bit too much smoke. No wood chunks or chips wanted.

And then there's the cut of meat you're cooking. IMO you can't
oversmoke something big like a brisket or butt, and since these two
cuts also take the heat well they're prime candidates for raw wood as
they've taken the two downsides to using raw wood, heat and smoke, out
of the equation.

Does this mean that most/all "serious" BBQers who use wood first burn
the wood down to coals away from the meat and then transfer the coals
to the smoker?


That's my impression.


I've got a lot of smaller mesquite cuttings and now I am thinking I'll
burn em on a scrap steel plate and then shovel the coals/embers into
the ECB.


Mesquite? Don't know nothing about the weed. Mebbe some Texan does.
Though as bitter as the lump can be, I have to imagine raw mesquite
could be too strong to use.

Let us know! bg

  #3 (permalink)  
Old 16-07-2009, 09:02 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Posts: 3,624
Default Wood vs Charcoal?

jj wrote:
A newbie question about wood vs charcoal. (lump not briquets)


Well, charcoal IS wood; just in a different state.

Is the main advantage of charcoal that all the sap/creosote/"low
volatiles (aka wrong or harsh/rough smoke) have been burned off
already so these won't contact your meat and impart undesireable
flavors?


That and the fact that it has more reliable burn properties in terms of
control and flare ups, etc.

So by adding water soaked wood chips, the BBQer can better control the
timing and amount of the "right" or "smooth" smoke?


HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What that does is add clouds of smoke and creosote.

Does this mean that most/all "serious" BBQers who use wood first burn
the wood down to coals away from the meat and then transfer the coals
to the smoker?


'Serious' bbqers will use whatever they want, but know how to properly deal
with the strengths and weakness of the fuel. A lot of folks will use wood
that has been burned into some sort of charcoal state. Coal is what is
pulled out of the earth.

I've got a lot of smaller mesquite cuttings and now I am thinking I'll
burn em on a scrap steel plate and then shovel the coals/embers into
the ECB.


That could work, but chances are that most of the usable btu will be burned
off. It works best with larger rounds and splits of wood.

Hey I'm learning!


That's the spirit JJ. Keep plugging away. I really suggest that you take
the time to read the FAQ:
http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/toc.html



--
Dave
What is best in life? "To crush your enemies, see them driven before
you, and to hear the lamentation of the women." -- Conan


  #4 (permalink)  
Old 16-07-2009, 10:27 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 5,711
Default Wood vs Charcoal?


"jj" wrote in message
...
A newbie question about wood vs charcoal. (lump not briquets)

Is the main advantage of charcoal that all the sap/creosote/"low
volatiles (aka wrong or harsh/rough smoke) have been burned off
already so these won't contact your meat and impart undesireable
flavors?

So by adding water soaked wood chips, the BBQer can better control the
timing and amount of the "right" or "smooth" smoke?

Does this mean that most/all "serious" BBQers who use wood first burn
the wood down to coals away from the meat and then transfer the coals
to the smoker?

I've got a lot of smaller mesquite cuttings and now I am thinking I'll
burn em on a scrap steel plate and then shovel the coals/embers into
the ECB.

Hey I'm learning!

JJ


I use wood because I have plenty of it. I do though, burn it down to coals
first. Wood just takes longer and it a bit less convenient for most people,
compared to opening a bag of charcoal.

I never use water soaked chips. Too easy to overdose with sooty flavor and
creosote as compared to a clean burning log or coals. Even in the winter, I
grill steaks over the coals in the wood burning stove. Use chunks of wood
instead. Wood is readily available to most people if you are willing to put
a little labor into it. Any friends do woodwork? Scraps of cherry, oak,
maple, etc, are great for smoking. Check out the fruit orchards at tree
trimming time. Or the crews clearing electric lines and ask for a branch or
three.


  #5 (permalink)  
Old 16-07-2009, 11:12 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
jj
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 99
Default Wood vs Charcoal?

Thanks to everyone for their replies. Especially your inclination not
to water soak wood chips.

I think I'll do the pre burning of wood to coals outside the smoker
and avoid that harsh, bitter smoke. I think this will be a key
knowledge point for me.

JJ (eyeballing his large sage bush - thinking of adding small bits
for smoky sage flavor)
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 17-07-2009, 03:49 AM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Posts: 224
Default Wood vs Charcoal?


On 16-Jul-2009, "Dave Bugg" wrote:

jj wrote:
A newbie question about wood vs charcoal. (lump not briquets)


Well, charcoal IS wood; just in a different state.

Is the main advantage of charcoal that all the sap/creosote/"low
volatiles (aka wrong or harsh/rough smoke) have been burned off
already so these won't contact your meat and impart undesireable
flavors?


That and the fact that it has more reliable burn properties in terms of
control and flare ups, etc.

So by adding water soaked wood chips, the BBQer can better control the
timing and amount of the "right" or "smooth" smoke?


HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What that does is add clouds of smoke and
creosote.

Does this mean that most/all "serious" BBQers who use wood first burn
the wood down to coals away from the meat and then transfer the coals
to the smoker?


'Serious' bbqers will use whatever they want, but know how to properly
deal
with the strengths and weakness of the fuel. A lot of folks will use wood

that has been burned into some sort of charcoal state. Coal is what is
pulled out of the earth.

I've got a lot of smaller mesquite cuttings and now I am thinking I'll
burn em on a scrap steel plate and then shovel the coals/embers into
the ECB.


That could work, but chances are that most of the usable btu will be
burned
off. It works best with larger rounds and splits of wood.

Hey I'm learning!


That's the spirit JJ. Keep plugging away. I really suggest that you take

the time to read the FAQ:
http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/toc.html
--
Dave


I may be steriotyped for life for agreeing with Dave Bugg, but so be it.

Good post Dave.

--
Brick said that.
 




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