Monday, June 2, 2014

Replace Charcoal Briquettes

There is something wonderful about the smell of a charcoal fired grill during the Summer months. 

The smell of roasting meat just makes you want to stop and taste. 
Doesn't it?
Would you cook out more if you had a greener and cheaper way to do it?

I have been thinking about making my own charcoal instead of using commercially prepared ones with the potential of harmful additives.
With a little planning ahead, 
you can have your own reserve of charcoal ready for some tasty grilling.

Gather some

hardwood pieces. 
We have plenty that comes from our own trees and brush, but you can find wood on the side of the road or Craigslist.
If they are too long, 
cut them into smaller chunks and/or split them. 
***If you really want them to look like the briquettes you will need to chunk them into really small pieces, but that is not necessary.*** 
The wood should be dry and preferably seasoned for three months or longer.

Please, DO NOT use wood that has been treated with chemicals (e.g. deck boards and possibly pallet wood as well) to cook food for you and your family.

We stack the wood on racks made from a broken metal dog crate and leftover wood pieces, to keep the wood off the ground.
You could use concrete blocks.

Now it's time to char the wood.
For this process we use our firepit.
Get a newspaper 
(or grocery store weekly ads which are free. I usually pick up 10-20 the last day of the week, before they change them out with the new ones) 
or cardboard. 
Toss in the mix a bunch of small dry brush and light it. 
Allow it to come to a full flame and add some bigger sticks of wood. 
Once the fire is going well, 
start adding your chunks of wood for charcoal. 
Let it burn hot until the wood starts looking black.


Once the wood looks like coal, I pull it on the side, put the lid on the firepit and let it sit until the next day. Once it's cooled off. 
This action of depriving the wood of oxygen, will stop the burn and cause the charring.
Open the lid and carefully pick out your charcoal chunks and store in a dry container for your next barbecue. 
Be careful not to breathe in the charcoal dust
 (or any kind of dust for that matter). 
This charcoal will burn hot and will last much longer with very little smoke or ash, preserving the taste of your meat.
We also use a chimney instead of lighter fluid.

So, would you cook out more if you had 
a greener and cheaper way to do it?

Stay Frugal,

how to start a fire without lighter fluid:
Start with crumpled up newspaper (make sure you crumple up each individual sheet) and/or tinder which is very small sticks/twigs, pine needles, wood shavings, dryed moss and things like that. Then move to kindling which is twigs and sticks. After that add your fuel which is logs (make sure they are split) or large sticks.

Tips for building: build your campfire as a "teepee" or "log cabin". With the teepee put the logs and sticks leaning against each other like a teepee. With a log cabin make sure there is a hole in the middle for the smoke to come out. Make sure to leave enough space for air to get in in either style or the fire will not start as well. I prefer crumpled up newspaper because it burns quickly and you have a lot of it.

Tips for starting: use matches or a lighter, whichever you prefer. You may need to blow on the fire soon after you start it. Blow hard enough to keep it going but don't put it out. Light the newspaper or tinder in different places. 


NanaDiana said...

You are so smart, Dani. I have never made our own charcoal but we always make a fire the way you described making one. Good job! xo Diana

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

Your good Daniela!! Is that your cute pup?

Kelly said...

We've never used homemade charcoal before. I never even knew you coud do it that way! We do use a chimney though to avoid using lighter fluid. It's something we bought at Home Depot or somewhere that gets the job done easily.

Carla from The River said...

You amaze me. We do a lot of grilling and use charcoal. I am going to have my husband read your post.
Again, great job with explaining everything. You do a great job.


Marissa said...

Here in South Texas we have tons of mesquite so, we cut if off and let it dry for months in the hot summer months it doesn't' take long. then when we want to BBQ we just use one of the dried pieces.
There is nothing like the taste of mesquite BBQ
We don't charcoal it we just dry it.
very well.
Mesquite trees are everywhere here so when one needs to prune a tree we just save the cuttings for BBQs.
We have so many right now in our back yard.
Thanks for sharing this I will show my husband.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Daniela,
What a clever idea and indeed, there usually is plenty of hard wood around here. It just needs planning! Love the old wire you used as that is also great for aeration and far better still than concrete blocks.
Hope you have great weather for cooking out with your family.
Yesterday was our first dry day. We have had so much rain and thunderstorms that all our trees and grass look fuller and greener than ever before. But we like to have some steady dry weather now.

Amy of While Wearing Heels said...

Wow. You are impressive. I didn't even realize you could make your own charcoal briquettes. Fascinating.

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

My kids have pulled some charred pieces out of our firepit lately and used it to write on their wood play set. they think it's so cool! Tey mix it with a bit of water and then 'write' with it. I'm not quite as thrilled as they are but they had fun I guess.