What Is the Difference Between Charcoal and Wood for Grilling?

What’s the distinction between grilling with charcoal as opposed to timber? Both make fire, and flame-kissed meals are scrumptious, right? Well, in step with seven-time global barbecue champion Melissa Cookston, evaluating those fuels is like evaluating apples to oranges.

Charcoal is ideal to your regular outside barbeque—aka, for the usage of what the professionals call direct warmth—with burgers, hot dogs, steaks, bird wings, corn at the cob, or something else you’ll toss properly to your grill grates. Wood, however, isn’t in reality possible for direct warmth grilling. “When you’re the use of timber, you have a number of the flame because the wooden catches on the fireplace and combusts,” Cookston defined. These flare-united states make the temperature of a wood fire hard to manipulate without a seriously large and specific type of grill designed for wood fires, that means your burgers would emerge as a little less flame-kissed and greater charred to a crisp.

But simply because she doesn’t endorse lights up a campfire on your Weber, doesn’t imply timber and out of doors, cooking can’t cross hand-in-hand. “I’m an outdoor cooking woman, and there’s nothing like cooking with timber,” Cookston stated. In the barbecue international, wooden is the most critical and nuanced aspect for smoking, a technique of cooking that makes use of indirect warmness over many hours. And even in case, you don’t have a smoker or a wooden fireplace grill, you may still experiment with the use of wood smoke while grilling, way to techniques like timber chips and region fires.

Before we get into a way to use timber and charcoal for grilling, it’s worth backing up and talking approximately what precisely those materials simply are with a purpose to understand the way to high-quality harness their heat and taste once you were mild that fit.
Grilling with Wood

Wood is technically the xylem or vascular device of a tree that transports water and other vitamins from the roots to the leaves. When it comes to cooking, you couldn’t just take hold of any old log or chop down a tree and throw it to your smoker or your grill. Fresh reduce timber has an exceptional deal of water in it if you want to steam as it burns and launches off-tasting smoke. For this purpose, firewood and wooden meant for cooking are commonly “seasoned” or air-dried for at least six months. You also need to be careful to by no means use any timber that’s moldy or has been dealt with for cooking because it may release dangerous materials into your meals.

Wood intended for cooking typically comes in 3 length options: wooden chips, chunks, or logs…even though chips or chunks will most usually be used for outside cooking (save the logs for a large open pit barbeque or the campfire). Hardwoods like hickory or cherry are generally desired for their tighter cell shape, which makes them burn slower than softer woods like pine, which also supply off sooty smoke that received’t flavor tremendous in your meals.

Grilling with Charcoal

Charcoal is in reality crafted from wood that’s been burned in a low oxygen oven or silo until it’s essentially simply natural carbon, also known as char. According to Meathead Goldwyn’s in-depth clarification of the technology of charcoal, it’s were given extra potential power than wooden, and “burns consistent, warm, and produces much less smoke and less risky vapors.”

Other Options

Just like timber, there are alternatives in relation to choosing your charcoal, too. Briquettes, which maximum experts propose for the informal barbeque-er, are commonly made up of charcoal and occasionally an added binder like cornstarch, as well as other substances along with sawdust and sodium nitrate. (Though some brands, including Weber and B&B briquettes, use only hardwood.) Thanks to their uniform length, they burn continuously, however, some claim they produce an ashier burn, aka, cap out at a lower heat than lump charcoal. Lump, alternatively, is simply hardwood burned right down to charcoal, without components or shaping.

There are also even more specific options out there, like Japanese Binchotan, that is activated charcoal that produces a completely excessive warmness with nearly no smoke, and coconut charcoal is made from pressed coconut shells that are burned right down to char in preference to hardwood.

Grilling with Charcoal & Wood

For maximum lay-human beings or backyard barbeque fanatics, grilling with charcoal is going to be enough. Depending on what you’re cooking, you may set up your charcoal for direct warmness grilling simplest, or create two zones for direct and indirect warmness. (Not sure what which means? Check out this Chowhound video which will educate you.

What approximately fuel grills, you ask? According to Crookston, fuel grills have their time and vicinity as a quick and easy outdoor cooking device, however, they don’t evaluate to the results you get from charcoal. “Time is something I don’t have a lot of,” she stated. “It’s very handy to push a button and have a gasoline grill reachable. But the taste of charcoal is something that I crave. There’s nothing like a burger or steak cooked over charcoal. You get a very different texture.” If you’re nonetheless a fan of comfort, test out CNET’s Best Gas Grills for 2019 round-up.

For the one’s lifeless set on grilling with wooden best, there are a few alternatives. “If you’re thinking about grilling with wooden, what we typically do in the South is find a burn barrel to burn that wooden all the way down to what we name embers,” Cookston stated. “Which is basically what the charcoal manner is. Or you may use a Santa Maria grill, which we don’t have lots of inside the South. I changed into first delivered to those out in California.” These more-massive grills have a grate that may be raised or lowered to preserve the beef off the flame.

Or you could make like Cookston, and use a zoning installation to add a piece of wood flavor in an ordinary vintage charcoal grill. “Occasionally I’ll take a timber chew and placed it over to the facet,” she said. “Basically, you’re creating a two-quarter fire in which you’re cooking your meat on one aspect, and also you put that timber chew over to the alternative side of your grill so that you’re now not getting the flare-up to your meat.” Since you’re no longer cooking without delay over the wooden, she emphasizes which you’ll handiest get a minimum amount of taste from the wooden bite the use of this technique.

There’s also the choice of adding timber chips on your charcoal grill—some fuel grills even include a pan with a view to putting timber chips in—but Cookston cautions which you gained’t get that smoky flavor you might be imagining. “Chips simply combust and burn so rapid which you’re just no longer going to get that first-rate smoky flavor,” she stated. “You can also get a touch, however, you’re just no longer going to get that smoky flavor you are probably deliberating.”

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