Does anyanyone use lump charcoal (100% wood) to warm up their oven? Would there be any issues with using this while heating the oven?
if memory serves me correct, hardwood charcoal burns at about 600 to 700 degrees. i performed an experiment in january (external temp about 55) and then promptly forgot to post the results. i burned about two 'chimney cans' of charcoal in the oven. and got the wall temp up to about 165 degrees over a ninety minute period. there shouldn't be any problem with it but i'm not certain charcoal would be cost effective for most of us.
I have always through of good charcoal as putting out nice flavor, but not a lot of heat -- as wood does. The real coal-fired ovens on the east coast get really hot (900F+), but that coal is different.
Is that right?
Also, don't forget thta you can use the wood coals from your oven for grill. Get a Forno Bravo oven shovel, and put the coals in a Weber kettle grill. Very nice.
Charcoal vs coal
I grew up on the east coast, and, if memory serves, my grandparents house in Philadelphia was heated by hard anthracite coal, mined in the Pocono Mountains around Scranton, and, after that ran out, in Appalacia. It's very shiny and very black. No doubt, that's what they used in the ovens, too. Soft coal, bituminous, is high in sulphur, with a dull surface. That's what they burned in London and what created those famous yellow London fogs.
Philippine Coconut Shell Charcoal
We have a lot of coconut shell charcoal availble here. I would like to try it.
The cost is cheap and the stuff burns hotter but not as long as the pressed stuff such as the Kingsford brand you'll have in the USA. Would I need to keep adding the charcoal as the fire went along or would one shot of burning it hot and then just keeping it hot work well. We buy charcoal here by the feed sack.
If funs about a dollar and a half for about 50 or more pounds. The stuff is messy though, but I am going to cook the turkey in a roasting tray anyway.
I guess one of the things we all have to learn is how a particular oven fires with the fuel available. It's a trial and error operation, at least it certainly was with mine. If the shell charcoal burns fast and hot, you might be okay with a single firing, but I suspect not. This depends to a large degree on the mass of your oven, and what you are trying to achieve.
If you have fairly high mass, and are trying for slower cooking dishes, like turkey, you might want to try firing your oven the night before, then checking the temp in the morning, refiring if necessary.
The resevoir analogy
I always think of the thermal mass of the oven dome and floor as resevoirs that hold heat. The fire you burn is adding BTUs that are stored in the oven, and you can't take anything out for cooking that you didn't put in. You want a fire that aggressively laps at the oven dome and pour lots of heat into the bricks. You need a good flame!
In a general sense it doesn't matter what type of fuel you burn -- it's the heated refractory material that makes the ovens cook so well. If you think of a "white oven", the type that Alf builds for bakeries around Europe, they have a firing chamber below the cooking chamber, and they "shoot" heat into the refractory with a vent. In that case, the heat source doesn't matter, and the bakeries burn whatever is cost-effective.
Why don't you try burning longer fires (2-3 hours) then try either cooking a series of pizzas in a row (with a good size fire going in the oven). You can also try letting the fire go down (not out) and doing some roasting.
Let us know what happens.
Thanks for the replies
Several have replied to my initial delima.
I want to thank you both.
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