Many years ago, an older gentleman told my husband you could make your own charcoal by taking the larger embers from a fire and dousing them in water. This has always stuck in my head and I have wanted to try it for many years. Alternative cooking means is a topic that is always on the back of my mind.
A couple of months ago, I was getting out the ash from around some large embers. I started thinking about the story of the older gentleman making his own charcoal from large embers doused in water and air dried. I called Zoey into the garage and told her the story. "We can make BBQ charcoal?" she asked.
"Maybe," I said.
"Let's do it!" And, so we did.
I got a large coffee can, filled it with water, scooped out some embers and dropped them into the can. We stood back and watched the water boil and steam. When it finished, we dropped more into it. When the can was filled, Zoey held the front door open while I carried the can outside. It was surprisingly cool. I expected the can that just had boiling water in it to be a lot hotter to the touch.
I drained the water out as best I could. Some of the tinier pieces fell out, but I did not worry about it. My coffee can has a lip on it and I think that helped to drain the wet charcoal with out all of the pieces trying to come out. We brought the can back into the garage and Zoey laid out newspaper to lay the wet charcoal out on.
It took about 4 days for it to dry. We did not use it immediately though. One coffee can of charcoal is not a lot. We did several batches over the next few weeks. Anytime our fire had produced a fair amount of large embers we would get the coffee can back out and start the process over.
When I felt we had enough, I bought a steak to cook on it. What better way to test the flavor charcoal gives to meat than to cook a steak on it. However, as my luck would have it, we were not home when the day arrived to cook our steak on our home made charcoal. I was supposed to be off after 12 but ended up having to stay until 4. Since my hubby has to be in bed by 5:30 and eats at 2 p.m., he had to go ahead and cook it without Zoey and I. We might have come home to cold steak and no blogging pictures, but it still tasted fantastic! There was none of the 'campfire' taste you get from using old burning wood like you get when you are camping. (I do not like that taste!)
It was another month and a few more batches of charcoal making that we got to be here to grill up some pork chops. My husband started the charcoal with a bit of lighter fluid. It burned evenly and easily. Oh, what a beautiful sight to see! Now we will be making charcoal instead of buying it!
If you plan on making your own charcoal, please use extreme caution. Embers of a fire are extremely hot and can cause unexpected fires. Just because I found the can to be cooler than expected, does not mean you should just grab it up. Make sure the coal is completely extinguished before placing on any surface to prevent fires. Please exercise extreme caution and common sense before trying anything you see on my blog or any thing else on the web.
Do your own research! I hear there are different ways to make larger batches of coal.
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