Whole Foods Lump Charcoal
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Quick Stats
Date Of Review: August, 2002
Purchased From: Whole Foods Market
Date Purchased: 7/15/2002
Price: $4.99
Weight: 8.8 pounds
Burn Time:
Ash Production:
Type of Wood: None
Strange Material?: See review!
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: 80%
Smell: Very little.
Country of Origin: USA


Quick Links
Other Information: Click Here
Unusual Or Unique Statements: Click Here
Statements From The Bag: Click Here
Lighting Instructions: Click Here
Photos of Contents: Click Here
Other Photos: Click Here
Photo of UPC Code: Click Here
Contact Information: Click Here

Rate And Comment On This Charcoal: Click Here


Commentary

04/20/08 UPDATE: To the right, you will see an animated graphic cycling through the three incarnations of the Whole Foods packaging. Number 1 is the original bag which was used when we first reviewed this charcoal. Numbers 2 and 3 were both for sale at the same time at our local Whole Foods store. We suspect, and time will tell, that number 2 replaced bag number 1. Therefore, we believe that bag number 3 is their current bag which is replacing bag number 2.

The information contained on the two later bags is essentially the same as we have recorded in this review. Also, the UPC code on all three bags is the same. But more importantly, we can report that all three bags contain Cowboy charcoal. There has been a report of a Whole Foods bag of charcoal containing more traditional lump charcoal, but we cannot confirm that report at this time.

Whole Foods Charcoal is made by Cowboy and bagged for Whole Foods. We suggest you read the review of Cowboy Charcoal for the details. Since it is Cowboy, it gets the same above average rating:

To the left is the rating that our readers have given this charcoal. Now that you have read our review, if you have used this charcoal and would like to rate it and leave your comments, Click Here

To view reader ratings of all brands, Click Here.


Other Information

From their website:

Our Whole Foods Hardwood Charcoal is the real thing, made from 100% hardwoods like oak, maple and hickory. No trees are cut for our charcoal; it's made from small pieces of wood recovered from hardwood floor and furniture industries. Because this fuel is pure, with none of the additives used in charcoal "briquettes," it lights more easily; it's more responsive to changes in oxygen level so you can regulate it more easily; and it burns cleaner and hotter. Since it contains no impurities, you can add hardwood charcoal to the fire while you're cooking, without having to worry about waiting for the chemicals to burn off, as you would with briquettes.

Our manufacturer's process is the "greenest" of any of the charcoal vendors we found and very quality oriented. Their quality control process tests the wood before it is made into charcoal as well as the finished product. The wood is "roasted" not burned, in closed containers that allow complete control over the combustion process and create the absolute minimum of air pollution as a result.

Key Points:

  • 100% charcoal, no fillers, no coal, no nitrate, no chemicals
  • Easy lighting, starts in about half the time of briquettes or other leading charcoals
  • Great Taste for your food. Real charcoal flavor—not petroleum or chemical off-taste.
  • Quicker, hotter fire. Seals in flavor and retains food moisture.


Unusual or Unique Statements

None.


Statements From The Bag

"Lights fast", "Contains no chemical additives", "Real hardwood charcoal", "100% Natural", "Real hardwood", "Our choice for natural wood-grilled flavor"

"Great food deserves the best charcoal -- when you're ready to grill that perfect piece of fish or that steak that has your name on it -- hardwood charcoal would be my choice to do it justice. Our hardwood charcoal is the real thing. made directly, from wools like oak, maple and hickory. no trees are expressly cut for our charcoal, it's made from wood recovered from the hardwood floor and furniture industries. Because this fuel is pure, with none of the additives used in charcoal "briquettes", it lights more easily; it's more responsive to changes in oxygen levels so you can regualte it more easily; and it burns cleaner and hotter. Since it contains no impurities, you can add hardwood charcoal to the fire while you're cooking, without having to worry about waiting for the chemicals to burn off, as you would with briquettes.

I asked my friends Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, authors of the new book License To Grill, to give us the pro's slant on the best tips and techniques.

Lex Alexander, Our Food Guy"

"Grill Basics

Lighting the fire: We recommend you use a chimney starter, which is a sheet metal cylinder with a wooden handle on the outside and a grid inside near the bottom. Just set it in the grill, fill the bottom section with crumpled newspaper, then fill the top with hardwood charcoal and light the paper. The flames will sweep up through the chimney, igniting the charcoal. When the charcoal is red hot, dump it out and put as much additional charcoal as you want on top of it. Nothing could be simpler, and it works every time. All you have to do is get one piece of charcoal even partially lit -- just a corner that is white so you know it's really going -- and you can stop working at it. That coal will light the piece of charcoal next to it, which will light the ones next to it, and before too long all of your coals will be glowing hot. It takes about 10 minutes for the coals to reach the proper stage of being covered with a fine gray ash. Since not everything is best cooked over the same heat, you should check the temperature of the fire by holding your hand about five inches above the cooking surface. If you can hold it there five to six seconds, you have a low fire; three to four seconds, a medium fire; and one to two seconds, a hot fire."

"Seven Steps To Earning Your PhG (Doctorate of Grilling) (sic)

1. Hot, hot, hot. Always build yourself a good, hot fire -- the extra pennies you spend in fuel will be far outweighed by the fantastic flavor of food that's seared over a strong fire.
2. Use a two-level fire. We're talking here about a fire with a hot part and a cooler part. That way, you're all set for a classic "sear and move" technique, exposing the food to the high heat to get a good, strong surface sear, then moving it to the cooler side to finish cooking on the inside.
3. Seasoning. Sprinkle on plenty of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Nothing brings out the flavor of food like these two. Grind up a big batch of black pepper, mix it with kosher salt in a ration of about one part pepper to two parts salt, then keep it in a dish by the grill and use it liberally.
4. Prevent sticking. To prevent fish from sticking to the grill, make sure your grill grid is super-clean; oil the fish lightly before placing it on the grill; and once the fish is on the grill, let it sit for a couple of minutes before you move it.
5. Check often for doneness. We recommend that you use the "nick, peek, and cheat" method, beloved by professional cooks, to be sure your food does not come off the fire raw or overcooked. Just cut into it and look inside to see if it is done the way you like it.
6. Get organized. It's a lot easier to maintain the proper relaxed grilling attitude if you don't have to keep running back into the house. So before you put the first appetizer on the fire, set up a table next to the grill with everything you need, including a goodly supply of you beverage of choice. Some helpful tools include:

  • Tongs -- long handled tongs that are spring-loaded help accomplish lots of tasks safely.
  • Wire or bristle brush -- cleaning the metal rack is a messy task made simple with a wire brush, or a bristle brush for non-stick coated racks. Clean the rack every time you grill because build-up can create off-flavors in the food.
  • Basting brush -- essential for brushing on the sauce.
  • Flashlight -- a lifesaver when you're deciding if what you're cooking is done.
  • Mitt -- a fireproof mitt allows you to safely complete many grill jobs.
7. Be safe. If you treat it right, fire will be your friend. So set up your grill on level ground in an open space away from over-hanging eaves or tree branches. Keep toodlers and pets well away from the grill, and don't let older children run or play too close to the grilling area. Never light your fire with gasoline and never spray lighter fluid onto lit coals. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, or at least have a bucket of sand near the grill.

Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby"

"Distributed by Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, 78703"

"Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby are co-authors of five cookbooks: The Thrill of the Grill (1990), Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys, and Chowchows (1993), Big Flavors of the Hot Sun (1994), Lettuce in Your Kitchen (1996), and License to Grill (1997), all published by William Morros. Chris is the chef/owner of the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Massachussetts. John Willoughby is a freelance writer and the Senior Editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine."

"Instuctions for use

For use in a closed grill

1. Use plenty of charcoal. Our charcoal burns a lot hotter than briquettes and is more responsive to changes in oxygen levels -- by controlling the air flow through the grill, you can control the temperature of the fire. Regulate the air flow with the top and bottom vents.
2. When you're finished cooking, close all the vents and you'll be able to save any remaining charcoal for reuse next time.
3. If your fire needs a boost just add some more charcoal. Since our charcoal contains no impurities, you won't have to wait for any chemicals to burn off as you would with briquettes.

For use in an open grill

1. Use plenty of charcoal. Our charcoal burns a lot hotter than briquettes because there are no fillers -- control the temperature of your fire by the amount of charcoal you use, and how you arrange it in your grill.
2. If you want a low fire, spared the coals out -- they don't need to touch each other to provide the proper cooking temperature.
3. If your fire needs a boost just add some more charcoal. Since our charcoal contains no impurities, you won't have to wait for any chemicals to burn off as you would with briquettes."


Lighting Instructions

See the section from the bag, "Grill Basics".


Photos Of Contents

This is the contents of the bag. Those are 1 inch squares on the measuring bar.


Here is a closer view.


Here are the larger pieces we found in the bag.

Some of the scrap pieces. We actually found a piece of decorative molding


Other Photos

None.


Photo of UPC Code

Here is a photo of the UPC code on the bag:


Contact Information

Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Research and Support Team
601 N. Lamar Suite 300
Austin, Texas 78703

Corporate office phone: (512) 477-4455

www.wholefoods.com


About This Review

If you are unfamiliar with our testing procedures, you may wish to read How We Review Lump Charcoal before reading this review. Also, you can read How We Score Lump Charcoal to learn about our scoring system.

Prices listed in our reviews are current as of the date of the review. We do not attempt to keep these prices current.

The conclusions and final rating given any charcoal are based upon the opinion of the author. We recommend that you use our rating only as a guide. You should read the entire review and decide what is important to you in making any buying decision.

Performance ratings are designated with stars, 1 star being the worst and 5 stars being the best:

= Performance is Far Below Average
= Performance is Below Average
= Performance is Average
= Performance is Above Average
= Performance is Far Above Average

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