Charcoal Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal: Who Ya Got?
Charcoal Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal
The world of gilling and smoking meat is as old as time itself. From the first time a caveman dad poked his head out of the cave and decided it was better to cook the meat before eating it a timeless artform was born. Primitive men saw the fire, they saw the meat, and it all made sense. They saw that it was good. A lot of time has passed since that glorious moment and man has invented different ways to cook meat. Some are more traditional than others and some are terrifying and assaults’ the sensibilities of backyard pit masters. Gas grills and electric smokers have invaded the backyard and stolen the fire from grillsmen around the world. Many have resisted and chosen to remain keepers of flame, to carry on the tradition of meat and fire. Those brave souls face a new challenge though, one they didn’t see coming, the challenge of charcoal. Now they must answer; Charcoal briquettes vs lump charcoal: Who ya got?
Briquettes are what most people are familiar with, and the top of that heap is Kingsford. The unmistakable blue bag with your dad on it grilling out back has been a staple of the hardware and grocery store for decades. It is a good product that works well, lasts long, and will give you great tasting, smokey food off the grill. The problem with these guys though is that they are a mishmash of stuff mixed, over processed, and pressed together. The briquette people have had decades to perfect their product and they have, but not always to the benefit of the consumer. Whatever they started out as, at present they’re a long way from that beginning. Charcoal briquettes are cheaper much in the same way hot dogs and SPAM are, because you don’t really know what’s in them. What they offer is reliability, availability, and familiarity.
Lump charcoal is nothing more than hardwood, pre-burned, cut into small chunks, and bagged up. There are no fillers or binders holding it all together, only wood. Lump burns longer and produces less ash than its cousin but the major drawback it that it burns faster. You’ll go through a bag of lump charcoal faster than briquettes and over time the money will start to go faster too. Given that fact though, it is a more controlled burn that isn’t as hot. A 400-degree grill with briquettes will burn the fat off a steak, but 400 with lump charcoal is smoother and more manageable. Another drawback to lump charcoal is the they are easy to snuff out. If the air flow in the grill isn’t wide open the coals will smother and begin to die. That can lead to longer cook times and restarting the coals if you aren’t paying attention.
Like everything else in the world of BBQ the debate over charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal won’t be solved. People use what they know and what they like and usually won’t venture into the other neighborhood. Pros and cons abound with both but in the end you should try them both and find out what you like best. That’s grilling after all, trial and error and figuring it out for yourself. When it comes down to it, both are just a heat source and the skill of the griller is what matters most.
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