Interesting Testing on Charcoal from America's Test Kitchen

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There was/is a good thread here on SMF where they did a pretty detailed test/comparison.... And I'm pretty sure it was briquettes against lump... Was it from one of the England crowd ? Gonna search for it...
 
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Tried lump 20 someodd years ago, think it was cowboy, everything I cooked had cinders on it, after 2-3 cooks I used in in the offset, nothing but briquets in the Performer, always have some hickory bark in there with my charcoal, have always liked Kingsford, ran out last year and was shocked at how high it had gotten, I had bought 6 of the double bag a few years before so took me a while to need more,
 
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The one thing I do like about lump in the kettle is, after I’m finished cooking, I can choke the fire out and reuse the leftover lump the next time. With Briquettes, there never seems to be much left that’s reusable.
I get at 2 least cooks out of the briquettes , but my kettles are tight . That's grilling cycles , not long cooks . 3/4 of a chimney to start the first round .
I just happened to check the other day . Started a fire with what was left in the kettle . Got it going and added 3 briquettes of the B&B . It was so hot I couldn't put my hand over the coals .
Grabbed my instant read therm for the pizza oven . Reads -40 to 1022 . It displayed " HI " which is off the chart . It has read the pizza oven at 850 .
I'm like you mentioned above . I run my Performer hot , and cook indirect . My 26 gets the snake or baskets .
I was in the opinion years ago of " clean burn " with charcoal . I never added food until the coal was ashed over white . Never added raw briquettes to a fire with meat on it , I kept a bag of lump for that . Flash forward to the snake method , and baskets with raw coal , small fire ,, it works for sure .
People tell me you can't taste the difference . I disagree . Is it worth it ? No .
 
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I found Ray's Test ... But it was with different brands of briquettes...

I've only tried Lump once... Like he said in the video... When you pour it in the charcoal chimney half of it ends up falling through... Never tried it again... But as you guys also said.. I've read where lump is presumably hotter... And wonder if that would be the case in the Vortex?

Maybe light a chimney full of lump.. Dump it in the vortex on the Weber... Log grate temps around the outside... Then do the same with briquettes...
 
99% of the time the Vortex is sitting in my 22, and the SnS is in the 26". I don't have the clam shell handle on the 22 and I need a glove to pick up the lid. Like Rich, the meat only goes on when it's ashed over and screaming hot. The 26 with the SnS works similar to the minion method. I can reuse the leftover coals on 26. I basically use what's cheapest and haven't noticed enough of a difference to warrant using the more expensive stuff.

Chris

One piece of advice. DO NOT REACH your arm over the top of Vortex when its at full strength. Unless you want a bald spot on your forearm.
 
I've only tried Lump once... Like he said in the video... When you pour it in the charcoal chimney half of it ends up falling through... Never tried it again... But as you guys also said.. I've read where lump is presumably hotter... And wonder if that would be the case in the Vortex?
You can always put a single layer of briquettes in the Vortex before you dump the lump, It will help keep the smalls from falling thru. I also lit the coals in the Vortex instead of using the charcoal basket.

Chris
 
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One piece of advice. DO NOT REACH your arm over the top of Vortex when its at full strength. Unless you want a bald spot on your forearm.
Yep gotta agree there! And thats what prompted me to add a lever to the vent tab on the lid...Did some wings and went to shut the vent afterwards and branded my thumb! And that dang handle on the lid will get mighty hot also!

Jim
 
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These are decent if you run across them. My local WM carries them.

IMG_2057.jpeg

I don’t think they burn quite as hot as B&B but close.
 
There was a time when all I ever used was Kingsford bought in the double packs when they were on sale, 40 lbs for less than $10 was a great deal, but gone forever. Anyway, the 1st lump I tried was Harder Charcoal and it was made from Quebracho wood, or axe breaker as it's also known. I never measured the temps, but that stuff was ridiculously hot, much hotter than the Kingsford, but that brand isn't available anymore. Doesn't really matter because there are other companies that use Quebracho for their lump or a blend that includes it. Jealous Devil and B&B to name a couple.

Currently I'm using B&B Hickory lump because I got a great deal on it from Walmart online a few months ago. 20 lb. bags were $13, but it's not 100% Hickory. The label says "Lump Charcoal with Hickory". The other part is Quebracho...
20240530_060308[1].jpg


Not sure what the percentages are, but I use it to get my splits going either in a kettle or an offset...
 
There was a time when all I ever used was Kingsford bought in the double packs when they were on sale, 40 lbs for less than $10 was a great deal, but gone forever. Anyway, the 1st lump I tried was Harder Charcoal and it was made from Quebracho wood, or axe breaker as it's also known. I never measured the temps, but that stuff was ridiculously hot, much hotter than the Kingsford, but that brand isn't available anymore. Doesn't really matter because there are other companies that use Quebracho for their lump or a blend that includes it. Jealous Devil and B&B to name a couple.

Currently I'm using B&B Hickory lump because I got a great deal on it from Walmart online a few months ago. 20 lb. bags were $13, but it's not 100% Hickory. The label says "Lump Charcoal with Hickory". The other part is Quebracho...
View attachment 698000

Not sure what the percentages are, but I use it to get my splits going either in a kettle or an offset...

Charles, I don't know if they have Academy Sports & Outdoor stores over there in S Carolina, but the Academy stores around here have that same bag for $9.99 - regular price. Just picked up 2 bag las week.

Red
 
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To further complicate it, when I'm smoking on the Kettle, I always have a small split of pecan in the charcoal , and that has a much better aroma than either briqs or lump

I almost never use just charcoal, be it lump or briquettes. Always have a wood split or 3 on there, too...
I've always added some kind of wood to my fires. Be it chips soaked in some kind of liquid, chunks. or splits.
 
As an admitted cooking nerd, I've always enjoyed and respected America's Test Kitchen for providing scientific, unbiased information about all things related to cooking. Their newest video is about charcoal. I was surprised by their findings! While I've never done any real comparison testing, I've always believed lump burns hotter and makes food taste better than briquettes. This video makes me wonder if I should test this for myself.




Watch it and judge for yourself...and let me know what you think.

Red

when I went back to charcoal with my WSM, the book recommended Kingsford Blue bag briquettes. I was using lump in my gravity, which worked well. I've recently tried B&B briquettes due to all the chatter here. I really noticed not much difference in my WSM. Costco recently had a sale on blue bag professional bigger bags. have yet to try it. but it would have to be amazing to go though the hassle of Costco.
 
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Costco recently had a sale on blue bag professional bigger bags. have yet to try it. but it would have to be amazing to go though the hassle of Costco.

I'm with you there! I avoid Costco and/or Sam's at all costs. And Academy stores around here have the B&B I like priced at or below any competitors in my area.

Red
 
I switched from briquetts to lump a few years ago. I like the consistancy in size of the briquett, makes the way a cook goes a little easier to predict in my opinion, I think the lump (I use Fogo, may have to try the BB) tastes better and burns cleaner and has much less ash and starts a good bed of coals. When using in the offset I only use it to start a bed of coals. Once I get a good bed the wood will keep that up for me. Where I notice the taste and burn is in my kettle where the charcoal is the primary source. I'll throw a small spit of apple or oak on the coals for a little more flavor.
 
These are decent if you run across them. My local WM carries them.

View attachment 697992
I don’t think they burn quite as hot as B&B but close.
I also found some at WM on sale and really like it. Burns clean and low ash. Ive gone thru 2 bags and will be getting more.But my favorite for my MBGF 1050 is the B&B Char Logs. Very low ash and seems to have longer burn times. Important for me because the gravity flow is always hungry 🤪.

Keith
 
Charles, I don't know if they have Academy Sports & Outdoor stores over there in S Carolina, but the Academy stores around here have that same bag for $9.99 - regular price. Just picked up 2 bag las week.

Red
The closest Academy to me has the 20 lb. bag for $14.99...
 
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