#1  
Old 09-07-2007, 02:04 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 15
Default What I have learned so far.

First of all having big fires is fun.OK I have had about 8 fires so far the last one last night.Got oven temp to 860 around and floor around 690. First of all it is hard to get the fire going. I might have to invest in a blow tourch to get it going don't llike the newspaper and firestarter wood because it is too smokey and goes all over the neighborhood. Have been using walnut. I have a line on some fruit wood for 200 a cord.I live behind a orchard. I woke up this am and my oven was 350 and the floor around 260 to 280. I have some whiteing on some parts of the dome but not all. The lower parts of dome is always cooler the the uppersides and top. I learned the hotter the fire the less smoke I will have. I am going to try to make a pizza tomorrow and then a roast on sun with my leftover coals. I plan to have one of those fires where my 6 year old goes cool dad and my wife goes is that safe.No heat loss on sides of oven yet and I don't see any cracks yet. Good tips for new oven owners don't put your face in the oven looking for cracks when the fire is at 900 I won't do that again. Do I need to take all the coals out before I start my new cooking fireor Can I burn the wood on top of the old coals? I think I will ned to get a rake to clean out the coals. Can you use a shop vac to get rid of coals once they are cool? Thanks for the time and I was just kidding about puting my fave in the oven I had my kid check it for me.
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Old 09-07-2007, 06:21 PM
maver's Avatar
Master Builder
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Puyallup, WA
Posts: 571
Default Re: What I have learned so far.

When you count 8 fires, does that include the curing fires? With my oven, I had 7 curing fires, then it took at least six more fires to finish the curing process. After that, the oven 'jumped' to pizza temp much more readily and was easier to achieve a white dome. No need to push it with a super big fire yet - if your dome was 860 and the floor 690 I suspect you have a little more cooking to do before it jumps to that 850-900 floor range within an hour, so don't go too big just yet.

See if you can find some other wood to use as kindling - you could use a propane torch but some seasoned pine or alder makes a great firestarter. Hardwoods, even well seasoned, are harder to get started. Fruit wood probably won't be a lot different than walnut.

You don't need to take all the coals out, but every now and then you ought to rake the coals out because some of that ash will accumulate and impair oxygen delivery to the fire. I personally would not use a shop vac - just an oven rake (I use an old garden hoe that I used to mix the concrete) and a metal pail - the coals go in the compost pile. If you do use a shop vac wait at least 4-5 days to ensure there are no hot coals.
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:04 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1,446
Default Re: What I have learned so far.

Doug,
Firestarting takes a few practice rounds to figure out what works consistantly and what won't smoke out you neighbors (trust me, your neighbors won't mind when you start making pizza).
I have quite a bit of landscaping around my house and do all of my own yardwork (I'm pruning something every week when I mow the lawn). Many of the plants and shrubs I have are "woody" plants- dead branches and prunings dry into fantastic twigs rather than wilt up. Great for firestarting. I also have two stands of bamboo that I am constantly trimming.(the small branches that shoot off the culms are excellent when allowed a couple of weeks to dry out).
Be patient, I use 2-3 pieces of crumpled newspaper and build up a cantelope sized mound of these small twigs (1/8" - 1/4"), when this catches I add increasing larger twigs and branches, allowing each to catch well before piling on larger branches.
The whole process of getting from fine twigs to having a coupe of decent sized logs (2"+) catch well, takes about 10 -15 minutes. From there its smooth sailing for the next 50 minutes or so getting up to pizza temps (I well insulated so heat up is 60 - 80 minutes, tops). When you get it right, you won't smoke out your neighbors.....just a little smoke when the twigs first start to burn.

As for the coals/ashes, I agree with Maver; for pizza - they don't need removed at every firing but they will build up and impede burning of later fires.
Make or buy a good set of tools. you have an expensive and very nice oven - don't short change yourself on your tools. You need a rake (old hoe will work), a flat blade shovel or scoop, and a good brass brush. If you can afford it - go for the tool set that FB sells as well as a couple of pizza peels. I don't regret the $450 I spent on these items, they are invaluable; to me an investment into proper care and management and the peels are an absolute necessity. A set of long handle log tongs are invaluable as well, I picked up an antique cast iron pair in perfect condition on ebay for about $15 (plus shipping).
Like Maver says, your still about 10 fires away from you oven being truely curred, where it begins to heat up quicker, more evenly, and reaching the point of burning white from top to bottom consistantly. You can still cook plenty (including great pizza) before then.

RT
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Old 09-08-2007, 04:57 AM
wlively's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Spring Branch, TX 78070
Posts: 384
Default Re: What I have learned so far.

I would only add that it helps to elevate the logs when starting your fire. I kept it cheap and simple and used a left over fire brick which I split lengthwise as my log holder. I place the bricks about 9 inches apart and put the paper/kindling in between.
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