Charcoal & Wood Merchants
Service to the Restaurant industry
London and Nationwide
Many thanks to the #BBCFoodProg on Radio 4 for including us in the programme.
We offer a broad range of Woods, Charcoals and Smoking Chips for Chef's and like minded live-fire cooking enthusiasts
From simple grills to wood fired ovens, fire pits and Texan BBQ's. Onto supporting and fuelling festivals & events like: Meatopia, Wilderness and Somersault . We've taken all that's good and native, along with exploring beyond our shores for the best we can find there too. It's an exciting part of our business and one which we shall continue to develop
The interest in homegrown native wood; like Oak, Beech and Alder along with positively produced British Lumpwood charcoal has grown hugely. British wood and charcoals have unique flavour and distinctive aromatic notes all of their own. So where possible we encourage you to use this in your grill or oven. However, we are realistic about sourcing and supplying products, so if we can't make it here we will source the very best from Europe and beyond.
We've also been firing single wood species, like Apple, Hazel, Sweet Chestnut and Silver Birch into charcoals, some at earlier or later stages of the wood seasoning process. Much like coffee roasters and tea blenders, we're searching for flavour, aroma and burn characteristics. The tastes and aromas are unique, so this an on-going exploration
Wood 'Curing' and Seasoning
Wood is wood right?
Yes of course it is, it grows on trees of that we're sure.
But let's set a few things aside; like transport, cutting and machines and labour. All that is a given, it takes about the same amount of time and energy.
What does make a fundamental difference is how we treat the wood, how it's dried, cured and seasoned on. And ultimately what it will be used for: Grill, Oven and now rising through is the 'smoker' each with a requirement of its own
Produced for Low & Slow smoke units. Specifically kept outdoors and held back during the drying process. This natural stage of early dryness and cure makes for smoke and flavour. Untouched by the kiln or accelerated drying. Single wood species of like Apple, Oak, Sweet Chestnut and Silver Birch. Alder. Pear and others.
Robata. Josper. Big Green Egg. Inka & Charcoal Grills
There are numerous Charcoal fuelled appliances used commercially, to cook with charcoal. Robata have their origin in Japan, traditionally used for smokeless heat from ultra hard Oak Binchotan charcoal. Though the Robata name describes a broader use grill here in the UK, often mixing charcoal with wood for heat and smoke flavour. The Josper's a Spanish charcoal oven, with a closing door. It holds a very high temperature during service (often dubbed 'the charcoal microwave') as does The Big Green Egg.
These are a high-tech ceramic lined BBQ ovens made in the USA. They're ultra efficient when it comes to burning charcoal and holding heat, and cooking on them is an experience all of its own. We are Ambassadors to the Trade for The Big Green Egg (feel free to ask me all things BGE)
There's also the traditional long fire pit, often seen in middle eastern and Turkish Mangal restaurants
All these appliances are using natural heat derived from Charcoal. Cooking on them is a skill and craft all of its own, made easier by the performance and quality of the material they burn. Ask a grill Chef what they want during a busy service. "Heat, good consistent clean heat"
If you've used our English Woodland RMX Charcoal, you'll appreciate how good a Lump-wood-charcoal can be. Light, highly carbonised and easy to ignite, with a clean and natural taste
Though as you've probably discovered elsewhere, there's charcoal and there's charcoal. We've all gone to the garage , garden-centre or wholesaler and grabbed what's on offer, some cheaper than others - then whacked it on the BBQ or grill and hoped for the best.
Results: Often variable - 25 minutes for some, 2 hours for others
But ever thought of how that charcoal was made - I never gave it a thought in the past, though I knew a good flavour when I tasted it
So I found myself compelled to discover as much as I could about the whole process, and I started to look much closer at the making of charcoal. I hold my hands up "I'm a charcoal geek" and proud to be one.
I've been in the wood business for a long time and it's one of those businesses that takes years of getting to know who's who. Very few people involved advertise themselves. Woodsmen & Woodswomen are a distinct group apart from the rest of the outside world, living and working in the woodland all year round. It's a calling from nature, a near religion almost. They're 'out-there' as it were
Now imagine a charcoal maker and how they live and work. These guys are literally playing with fire, they're Alchemists. They're working way off-grid, governed by their kilns and timing. Playing with gases and temperature, searching for the ultimate carbonisation, literally day & night.
These men and women of the forrest are committed
But it's beautiful and compelling to witness the transformation over days, from solid woods like Oak, Chestnut and Birch to lighter-than-light Lumpwood Charcoal.
All done with the natural resource of fire + heat + wood.
I'll be brief here, as i'm sure you've been bashed over the head about ethics from every angle.
90+% of Lumpwood-charcoal sold in this country is imported. The largest trade catering charcoal distributor import all of it's charcoal product. It's largely low grade & heavy under-carbonised 'brown or field' charcoal, much of this is imported from Paraguay, a country that borders both Brazil & Argentina. Many other countries also produce "Restaurant Grade Charcoal" in this way. All these areas are under pressure from legal & illegal deforestation. Trees are often cut down, turned into 'cheap' charcoal and this is absorbed into the global market
Thailand, Malaysia and Japan often use charcoal in an ingeniously economical way. Alongside premium Lump-wood-charcoal, often made with renewables like coconut husks and bamboo, they also produce an extruded bar or block
(though don't think nasty briquettes, those are a whole other baked coal-coal-limestone-borax and god only knows what product)
There are two methods of manufacture:
Charcoal fines (the gritty dusty bits) are recovered during the grading of premium charcoal. This is then mixed with a Tapioca natural binder and other things. It's then extruded into bars and these are then air-dried. Quality varies somewhat but the principle is ok
This more sophisticated method for creating Engineered Charcoal takes recovered wood bio-mass and chips from the sawmill industry, which is dried to a low moisture level of around 6% . This is then fed into a hopper and under pressure it's extruded into a bar. Bound by naturally forming Lignum, a chemical which essentially holds the wood together tight and firm
What is produced is a very dense wood bar , uniform is size and quality. This is then fired with wood in a sealed retort. All very efficient and creating a very long burning Ogatan style engineered charcoal.
These high-level-fixed-carbon charcoal bars (ogatan in Japan) are used in the grill or oven to make up the main body of the fire. It's very efficient with a long hot consistent burn
For further flavour Lump-wood charcoal can be added sparingly to "season" the surface of the grill fire. All in all, it's an energy efficient and resourceful way to run the grill.
We offer customers a genuine choice of positive UK products alongside the very best from Europe, America and elsewhere. We work closely companies who strive to produce the best of their kind.
And we admire the resourcefulness in Asia and elsewhere of making a long-burning economical charcoal bar from reclaimed co-product
We now offer two types of Engineered Charcoal. Chip Monk Magic and if you are looking for a UK version E-Char English Restaurant Charcoal, highly carbonised and made from untreated virgin wood, recovered from UK mills. This type of charcoal is known as OGATAN in Japan.
Both come in 10 kilo boxes, with strong continuous heat from them once lit, easily enough to cover prep and service. Heat-wise they don't dip or fall off noticeably during service and they produce little ash ( imported Restaurant Grade Lumpwood-Charcoal produces 10% )
Wood-chips and chunks along with premium lumpwood charcoal can be added for flavour during service.
Personally, i've not seen a product that matches the continuous heat output over an extended period as these Engineered Charcoals
The E-Char is made in a British factory, which itself is fuelled with renewable energy. It mostly uses a anaerobic digester to generate green electricity from animal waste and maize, allowing the factory to be powered by the AD plant - giving it a near carbon neutral footprint during production. The surplus power can be fed back into the National Grid
For further details
07970 695928 Debbie
0208 3144592 Office
It's the oldest food preserve in the world is smoke.
The irony is however that we import most of the wood used for smoking food from America.
There is a huge culture of BBQ in the USA and elsewhere but i'm really keen on our native British wood in my smoker.
If you know me, then you'll know of my passion for food, especially if it's wood fired and hot smoked. To compliment this i've been handcutting wood-chips from a variety of native trees for a long time now.
Fruit wood like Apple, Cherry and other species like Oak and Beech all have their own flavour. Now i've started to further explore single varieties: Bramley, Fiesta or Orange Pippin, and the smoke created from the wood of these tree varieties is as subtly unique as the actual fruit they bear. So out of this i'm slowly developing a Smoke Larder with a view to creating a unique Smoke-Menu, with blends of woods for chef's and food-smiths to draw on.
I'm particularly keen on English Sweet Chestnut.
The wood from a nut tree produces a beautiful sweet smoke, with a clean floral-note that goes really well with fish and British game.
Our larger chips, soaked in water, slowly produce a clean dense smoke plus a little moisture. The light shavings make for faster smoke production.
This unique cooking environment produces beautiful flavours. A batch of huge "Flintlock" sized prawns cooked in our hot smoke during the summer, was in short - life changing. As was this slow cooked rolled Shoulder of Wild venison, stuffed with Peckham Chorizo.
Along this journey "into-the-smoke" i've been quietly supplying a handful of Chef's and street food traders around the UK, the feed back has been very positive. We like to know where our ingredients have come from right down to the wood-chips its smoked in.
One trader is smoking pork for their Burritos & Taco's. Others use it as a flavour addition to classics like Boston Butts-Pulled Pork. More are experimenting with our blends of wood. It's all great fun I believe and there's a substantial and sustainable future for British woodland smoking chips.
If you're interested in further details
0208 2144592 Office
Please email me for a full price list:
English wood varieties:
Wood Chips (hand cut matchbook size)
Cross grain cut wood chunks
Coming later this season:
Single species of:
We reserve the right to source our products from outside suppliers, in times of low yield and high demand (usually where woodlands are flooded by rain, making the land soft and susceptible to damage) we may use wood from the e.u or other wood producing countries, should we deem it necessary. Each year we strive to promote more british woodland products. However, if and when we do source from elsewhere, we will aim do this in the most efficient and transparent way possible.
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