Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


CHARCOAL

THE BIRTH OF A GREAT CHARCOAL
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Many of you are aware of my preference for natural lump charcoal as a fuel for barbecuing and grilling. I am often asked what my favorite brand is. There are several good ones on the market, but I really like a brand with the dual names Nature’s Own Lump Charcoal and Basques Sugar Maple Charcoal. The plant is located in Saint-Mathieu de Rioux in Quebec.
I recently invited charcoal maker (collier) Jean-Claude Bacle to explain how lump charcoal is made and to send a few photos. That is Jean-Claude below.

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The process starts with stacks and stacks of virgin sugar maple logs. Sugar maples are an important resource in Eastern Canada – as they are in the Northeastern U.S. – prized for their hardness and density. The wood is chopped into smaller pieces for more efficient air-drying (seasoning), then it is burned in concrete kilns for 2 to 3 days, beginning a process called “pyrolysis”.

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The kilns are then sealed up to starve the fire of oxygen, and the coals are allowed to cool for several days. Finally, the resulting hardwood lump charcoal is sorted and bagged for distribution in Canada and the eastern U.S.

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STAY TUNED: PROPANE – THE FUEL OF CHOICE FOR MANY

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