Barbecue briquettes and flames
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How To Choose The Fuel And Accessories Needed To Light The Charcoal BBQ

Quality Weber lighting fuel and accessories for more efficient grilling

Briquettes

These are the alternative to the traditional charcoal and are usually made from charcoal dust and a binder. The Weber Briquettes are made from 100% untreated carbonised wood dust, starch and water. Some of the cheap briquettes can contain a lot of undesirable binders, such as cement, which will contaminate your food. The Weber Briquettes have an average burn time of 3 hours and only take about 20 minutes to reach cooking temperature; less if you use a Chimney Starter. The briquettes are best for any food which requires a more consistent grilling temperature for a prolonged period, such as chicken.

Char-basket fuel holders

These baskets hold exactly the right amount of fuel for a 57cm charcoal BBQ. The baskets can be placed in the centre of the BBQ for cooking over direct heat and at the sides for an indirect heat source.

Charcoal

This is the traditional fuel for charcoal barbecues and the advantages are that it heats up quickly and reaches a higher temperature than the briquettes. The downside of this is that once it has reached optimum temperature it cools down quickly, becoming too cool to cook after about 30 minutes. The very hot temperature can also lead to the outside of the meat burning before the inside is cooked, leading to the infamous salmonella chicken. After adding more fuel there is a further 10 – 15 minutes to wait before it rises back up to cooking temperature. Due to the irregular size of the lumps of charcoal there can be temperature fluctuations over the bed, leading to uneven cooking. Always buy good quality charcoal as there can be a lot of unusable small pieces and dust in the cheap products. The Weber Lumpwood Charcoal is a mixture of beech, oak and hornbeam from COC certified forests and will reach cooking temperature in about 15 minutes. Charcoal is best for any food which requires a high temperature for a short time, such as pizza.

Charcoal dividers

These dividers keep your charcoal or briquettes to the sides of the barbecue when you need to cook with indirect heat.

Chimney starter

The Chimney Starter cuts down on the amount of time it takes to get your charcoal or briquettes up to cooking temperature; they can be ready in 15 – 20 minutes. Fully open the vents at the bottom of the BBQ. Fill the chimney with the required amount of fuel, place 2 Lighter Cubes onto the BBQ grate and safely light with the Square Lighter. Stand the chimney on top of the lit cubes with the steering handle on the edge of the BBQ. When the flames are visible at the top, pour the fuel onto the grate or into the baskets; remembering to always use the High Temperature Premium Gloves. If you are using the baskets remember to put some of the coals from the top into each basket and some of the bottom coals into each basket; this gives a more even temperature. Chimney Starter Sets are available which contain everything you need to fire up the BBQ; they make a great present for the BBQ chef.

This is a rough guide to how much fuel you need to put into the chimney:

  • roasting and baking; 180 – 190C  -  one third of a chimney full
  • grilling; 240 – 250C  -  half a chimney full
  • pizza and searing meat; 280 – 290C  -  one full chimney

Weber chimney starter on the BBQ

Lighter cubes

These Lighter Cubes are invaluable for starting your charcoal or briquettes, especially if you are using the Chimney Starter. They are specifically formulated to be odourless and non-toxic in contrast to ordinary firelighters which can be quite pungent, and will contaminate your food.

Wood Chips and Chunks

The Weber Wood Chips are available in pecan, apple, cherry, mesquite, hickory, whiskey oak and beech and give a lovely subtle flavour to food which only requires a short cooking/smoking time. The Weber Wood Chunks are available in apple, hickory, mesquite and cherry and give a pleasant smokey aroma to any food which requires a long smoke. Don’t use too many as this can result in an over-powering flavour. Soak the chips and chunks in water for about 2 hours before using. Food cooked over a long period will have a much smokier flavour than something such as a steak which will only need to cook for an average of 10 minutes.

For more information on barbecuing just get in touch with our expert team here in store at The Barbecue Shop.