Tips & Tricks
Grilling with the perfect ember
Cursing breaks the chirping of birds on a warm summer’s day. A few barbecue beginners start to sweat before the food hasn’t even touched the grid. Although the coals have already burned, and the grill lighters were properly distributed, the flames extinguish as fast as they came. Why is it so hard to get a solid ember?
Charcoal against gas
Of course, the gas grill is a tempting alternative, but when it comes to real barbecue, a true grill master always grills with charcoal. Fire gives the food a unique taste, that cannot be replaced by anything. In principle, grilling with charcoal is not that difficult: A good ember needs enough oxygen – but let’s take one step in a time.
Step by step to the perfect ember:
Once you have decided for a charcoal grill, you need the right combustible material. Traditionally, most people like to barbecue with classic charcoal. It takes little time to heat up and burns at very high temperatures (up to 700 degrees) – ideal to sear steaks.
The disadvantage does not wait long: Charcoal must be refilled hourly. Because those extreme heats need a lot of energy.
Therefore, barbecue briquettes can play their advantage. Although briquettes need more time to heat up (up to 50 minutes) and reach a slightly lower heat, they glow up to several hours, depending on quality and size.
If you buy combustible products, always pay attention on the DIN EN 1860-2 standard. This mark ensures, that they are free of harmful substances.
Always check if the charcoal was well-seasoned. Charcoal is hygroscopic and therefore absorbs moisture very easy. To avoid additional smoke, it should be stored in a dry place. The ideal place to store firewood or charcoal is a boiler room.
1. How to make the perfect coal pile
For the perfect grilling ember, place a half of charcoal or briquette into a football-sized pile. Spread the grill lighter on the surface and pour the other half combustible material over it. Leave small places between to reach the grill lighters. If you’ve done everything right, a long lighter should be enough to safely light the pile of coal.
From bio to chemical and electric lighters, there is just about everything on the market. Note that chemical grill lighters such as firelighter- cubes, spray or gel, must be properly burned before you start to grill. Otherwise, the taste of your grilled food and your health will suffer.
Electric lighters usually consist of a so-called heating coil. These devices are placed under the charcoal and have no effects on the taste of the grilled food. They heat up comfortably but need to be connected on a socket.
2. Practical but not ideal
Many grillers swear on the chimney starter. It needs no electricity and is the darling of many grill fans. Depending on quality you can buy these useful devices under 10 Euros in every DIY market.
A chimney starter has the shape of a metal tube with handles and air vents. The device is divided into two parts. The upper part gets filled with coal, while the lower part gets filled with fire lighters. Through the chimney effect, the hot air is sucked up by the vacuum and consistently glows the charcoal. Depending on the amount, it then takes between 15 and 30 minutes until the charcoal is fully burned. Afterwards the embers can be carefully poured into the grill.
The disadvantage: When pouring the embers into the grill, sparks and coal pieces can fall out.
If you really want to be sure, wear fireproof gloves, solid shoes and pay attention on the wind direction before refilling. Attention: The chimney gets really hot, also after the usage. Keep hot barbecue parts always out of the reach of children.
3. A cool head for the perfect heat
When the ember burns, you can see the perfect grilling temperature on a white glowing layer of ash. If this is not the case, the ember needs more oxygen. To prevent you from desperately waving your hands, there are a number of helpful barbecue accessories:
The possibilities range from the luxury version, such as a special hot air blower to a piece of cardboard or just the hand. Ideally, there’s an air ventilation at the bottom of the grill, which provides the chimney effect. Use whatever you can find: The most important thing is, that the coals or briquettes are getting continuously and properly ventilated. As a saying goes: “No sweet without sweat”.
4. The new barbecue experience
Another alternative is offered by the company vaustil. The grill “El Primero” has a built-in chimney starter, that allows to burn coal within 20 minutes. Through the built-in system, coals do not have to be poured. As a result, coal pieces cannot fall out and burn hazards are minimized.
Besides, the integrated chimney starter can be filled with any kind of combustible material. The grill lighters are placed in a drawer at the bottom of the Primero. Afterwards the drawer can be simply pushed back and after a maximum of 20 minutes the grill is ready to get started. Thus, black fingers, fireproof gloves and flying sparks are spared with the “El Primero”.