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horseshoes

KJ big block charcoal tastes bad?

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The issue originally threaded was with KJ Big Block lump smelling like cigarettes. That would be a bummer. I have never used it or had that smell with any lump I have used. But it's intriguing because I intend to use KJ Big Block in the future. 

Maybe most folks tend to burn it past the issue letting the ceramics truly stabilize? Especially since many people post using KJ Big Block for longer, low and slow cooks. It would be terrible if this was simply a quality control issue. 

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I have found mixing RO and KJBB works really well.  I place the smaller RO at the bottom, and put the large Big Block chunks on top and use my Luftlighter on the RO.  I find the RO get hot faster but after 20-40m the Big Block is usually going nicely.  When I reuse the charcoal, pieces larger than my fist are set aside and placed back on top of the RO when I start my next fire.

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I’ve always found KJ Big Block to be a very neutral charcoal that doesn’t impart any distinct smoke flavour to food.  It’s why it’s my go-to lump for baked goods on the grill. 

 

You must have purchased a lemon batch.  

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On 7/5/2019 at 8:26 PM, horseshoes said:

Well, drove 1.5 hour round trip to the road show and no KJ to be found. Asked an employee and they got a manager, who said that the KJ reps were a no show for the entire event. So, no lump for me! The manager at Costco said they may not be allowed back, because apparently this has been an issue, and they don’t take kindly to flakey vendors. Come on Kamado Joe, get your #### together...

 

The road shows are kJ authorized, but not run by KJ employees.  I am pretty sure they contract that out. 

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Well, another update. I found a Lowes with the bagged version of KJ lump, and grabbed a bag. Had 2 cooks on it now, seems to be fine. So this suggests that maybe the first box did have something nasty going on that required extremely long pre-burning to get rid of. 

 

I am actually finding KJ mixed with Royal Oak to be a good combo. Since the RO is much smaller, it fills in the gaps that the giant KJ blocks leave, which helps things light faster and packs the firebox more full for longer cooks. I have the KJ ash basket and usually use a Fireboard with fan, so there is still plenty of airflow.

 

@John Setzler, if you still want to check out this "bad batch", send me a PM and we can arrange something. 

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On 7/10/2019 at 10:36 AM, Charcoal Addict said:

I’ve always found KJ Big Block to be a very neutral charcoal that doesn’t impart any distinct smoke flavour to food.  It’s why it’s my go-to lump for baked goods on the grill. 

 

You must have purchased a lemon batch.  

 

I agree, KJ is very neutral tasting to my palette. RO is the brand that has a distinct taste in my opinion, not bad necessarily, but I can pick it out.

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Interesting read as I am currently burning through some Wegman's Lump which I've been told is RO and have a bag of KJ BB that came with the grill that I'm planning to try next. The interest for me is that both my father (who likes to hang out when I'm grilling) and I were complaining that the Wegman's has a really strong chemical smell on start up which is not something I recall noticing when using RO Lump from HD. At least I'll be prepared to really let it get going 

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@Kamado Tom if you're a BJ's Wholesale member, try Frontier. It's mesquite from Mexico. Burns hotter, so I like it for pizza and wok cooks. It's great for low-n-slow as long as you planned on using mesquite, because everything will have a mesquite flavor, even pizza according to my wife, who is never wrong. Just be sure to let the fire mature...

 

Have fun,

Frank

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Great conversation!  A few years ago I asked a BGEgg rep what charcoal he used when, for whatever reason, he did not have a Big Green Bag of lump charcoal.  He said hands down, Royal Oak.  BGEgg charcoal is done by Royal Oak, using a north American wood species mix (Royal Oak also owns the Frontier label).

 

KJ XL Lump and Jealous Devil are both out of Argentina.  The latter, JealousD, has a definite initial (young fire) smell similar to cigars.  I was concerned considering the pricing of the Jealous Devil, however the food, burgers this cook, finished without concern.  The JDevil also was very, very clean, dust wise.  It was as if someone took a large hunk of KJXL and blasted the lump with a Craftsman air compressor and then put it in the retail bag, piece by piece. It's that clean.  The JD bags are durable, hard 10mill plastic, resealable.

 

I say all that to say this:  Skip them both and buy Wicked Good Charcoal.  It's out of Brazil, distributed out of Maryland, USA.  The bags are crappy, never in good shape, but it is a true stand out among any other big name including Blue's Hog, Rockwood, FOGO, JD,  BGE/KJ, ect.

 

If you made it this far, might I suggest looking on Youtube or Google just how charcoal is actually made.  You then get an understanding on why Cowboy is $14/bag and KJ or FOGO is $25+.  You pay not only for the quality of wood, but also the culling and sorting.

 

Anyone else ever find a nail head or lava briquette in their bag of cheap lump?  It's all about the process, pre- and post-production!

 

Grill:  Big Joe II (2017)

Sear Station:  Early '80s Portable Kitchen

Pellet Grills: Traeger Lil' Tex Pro, Traeger Pro34

PKJPEG.jpg

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The KJ lumps certainly have a distinct taste, but I don't find it off putting.  I find the smokiness fits some dishes more than others. I recently tried a bag of B&B. While I probably wouldn't purchase BB again (too many small pieces), it had a more neutral flavor than the KJ lumps. I do like how hot and long the KJ lumps burn. 

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2 hours ago, kamadoplanet said:

The KJ lumps certainly have a distinct taste, but I don't find it off putting.  I find the smokiness fits some dishes more than others. I recently tried a bag of B&B. While I probably wouldn't purchase BB again (too many small pieces), it had a more neutral flavor than the KJ lumps. I do like how hot and long the KJ lumps burn. 

 

It really comes down to personal preferences.  Smoking wood is no different.  Some people love a deep smoke flavour while others might call it over smoked by their impression.  

 

It’s all perception and personal tastes.  

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