- Type of Wood - Most charcoals are made from a mixture ofhardwoods like oak which have a good smokey aroma and flavor butwithout a distinct strong flavoring smoke. However, there are subtledifference which may be noticeable. More importantly, there are somebrands which are made entirely of one strongly flavored aromatic woodsuch as hickory or mesquite. This is favorable for many grilled foodsbut does have a distinct aroma, so only use them if you want thatdistinct element in your dishes. Any charcoal can be used along withsmoking wood chunks or chips to add aromatic smoke flavors to yourgrilled foods.
Of note, some Whole Foods markets have theirown brand of lump charcoal which is made entirely of recycled pieces ofhardwood left over from carpentry. Many of the pieces look like a pieceof floorboard or moulding. These are relatively inexpensive compared tosome other brands of lump hardwood charcoal.
- Size of charcoal pieces- Lump charcoal brands vary greatly in appearance and size depending onthe quality, type of wood and source. Generally, larger pieces are morefavorable as they burn hotter and longer. Some bags have only a fewlarge pieces and the rest is small shards and smaller pieces. It maytake trying a few brands available in your area before finding yourfavorite. Ideally, you bag would have uniform pieces of a medium tolarger size.
How do I use lump charcoal?
Easy!Lump charcoal can be used in basically the same way as any othercharcoal briquets. I like using a charcoal chimney to ignite it. Theonly difference I'd not is that it doesn't tend to last quite as longas pressed charcoal (mostly because of the chemicals added to thosecharcoals) unless you have very large chunks. Be prepared to added morepieces of charcoal as you cook if you are planning to grill for anextended period of time.
I hope lump hardwood charcoal helpsbring your grilled foods to a higher level with delicious real,unprocessed wood fire flavors!