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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 11-01-2009, 06:59 AM   #1
Wallaby
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Default Food Grade Charcoal

Hi Guys

Some friends need a large amount of food grade charcoal. I was wondering if it is possible to use lump that has been ground up. I know that activated charcoal is food grade, but can lump be made into activated.We want to try coating homemade cheese with it.

Mike
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Unread 11-01-2009, 08:16 AM   #2
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You want to put charred wood on your cheese???
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Unread 11-01-2009, 08:40 AM   #3
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SOunds like they have been smoking too much good stuff
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Unread 11-01-2009, 08:44 AM   #4
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No, some kinds of cheese are covered in ash then aged. I have instructions on how to make it but it sounds like regular lump.
The custom manufacture of charcoal is a somewhat simple chore. I will relay the "Paint Can retort method", that should yield enough ash of any type (Grape vine, Maple, Oak, Pine, etc?) for cheesemaking needs and experimentation that you care, but you can scale it up to any size your actual use requires.

I am a NY State and Federal licensed manufacturer of display explosives (Aerial Display Fireworks), charcoal is a primary ingredient of aerial fireworks manufacture and it's manufacture is a very elementary process.
Cheese maker's should have no problem with this. You will all be "Charcoal Ash experts" after this post and your first batch is finished. Good Luck.

Materials Needed:

Paint Can ( new and empty)
Choice of wood, vine, or other pithy product
Nail or awl
Hammer
Fireplace tongs
Campfire

Optional Materials:

Marshmallows on sticks
Kids and Family Members

Method. The NEW One gallon paint can can be purchased at any paint store. One could use an old used burned out paint can but we are talking an eventual food product here folks, so start with a NEW paint can.

With the lid removed from the can, a nail or awl and hammer is used to make a vent hole in the direct center of this lid, about 1/4 inch ( 6 mm ) in size. One vent hole only should be enough for our purpose. Care should be taken not to distort the form of the lid because it is vital this lid fits back on the can securely.

You now have a one gallon "Retort". You will fill your retort with whatever wood product you care. It is not absolutely necessary that the wood be dry prior to selection, but it doesn't hurt either. Grape vines seem to be the subject matter concerning this cheese forum, but it could be any wood type pieces of pithy fiber including maplewood, oakwood, soybean straw, blueberry vine, etc..

It is very important to attempt to completely fill the void inside the retort. Vine or other should really be "crammed" into this space and then some. Wood can be cut up into small chunks and slivers in an attempt to get more into the retort.

Important: Air (oxygen) within the retort is your
enemy. However having done all this, you do still need to be able to install the vented lid securely ( tight ).

With the lid returned to the retort tightly, you now require a rolling hot campfire. ( optional marshmallows, Kids etc.. ) With ample care, the retort is carefully placed onto the logs, coals, and flames in such a careful way that the vent hole can always be watched carefully.

Very soon, as the retort begins to heat up to red hot, the contents will begin to smoke. You are watching for this smoke spewing from the vent hole only. Very soon the venting smoke should become white. The retort will not blow up! The vent hole prevents an undue pressure build up within the unit.
However white smoke will stream out the vent as the retort gets hotter and its contents volatilize. This white smoke will come to an end at some point (one hour - plus or minus) after all the volatile fuel within the retort is spent. It is at this time that the retort is lifted out of the flames
with fireplace tongs or other, and set aside to cool overnight. Do Not open while it is hot!, the contents will be ruined.

By the next morning your retort contents should be cool. Carefully open the retort and you should have lovely custom charcoal. You may process this charcoal by grinding or crushing, or however you care to process it ( Very
Messy, but clean fun! ). I should think this product would be fully edible for cheese application and uses.

That’s about it. Be safe. Good Luck

Royal A. Purdy,
LakeCountryFireworks@compuserve.com
Mike
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Unread 11-01-2009, 08:47 AM   #5
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It's fairly easy to find. USP (food/pharmaceutical grade) in powder form will run about $50 for 4# of coconut shell charcoal. That's about a gallon jar full.

Enlighten us as to why one would want to coat cheese with it?

Chris
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Unread 11-01-2009, 09:04 AM   #6
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You piqued my interest so I went a'googling...found quite a bit of information at www.cheeseforum.org. I didn't look to see if there were any sources of supply listed, but there were posts about using ash on soft cheeses.

Looks interesting.

Chris
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Unread 11-01-2009, 09:32 AM   #7
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so the Ash is cutting the Cheese?
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Unread 11-01-2009, 09:37 AM   #8
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mike, first i didnt realize compuserve was still a provider.

you can buy activated charcoal (in cap form) at any health store for 5 bucks a bottle.
for proven digestve health...charcoal, black walnut hull and pure black cherry juice will keep you healthy.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 11:46 AM   #9
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he cheese form is where they are looking for info. The instructions are from there no telling how old they are. I know I can buy it but the quantity is a problem with cost. So if I could use lump to do it great.

Mike
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Unread 11-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #10
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Is the inside of your paint can galvanized? Not that Im a safty freak but if it is I think that could fark up a good hunk-O-cheese. Your paint can is going to actually be a kiln, a retort recycles the volital gases to heat the retort, for informations sake.
I have made and use a charcoal retort to make charcoal with, usually every spring. If you dont care if the charcoal is from grape vines, you can get the charcoal from your fire pit, its almost pure carbon anyways. Just burn the wood down to coals then spray the fire with a garden hose to extinguish it completly, and you'll have lump charcoal. The water wont harm the charcoal at all but it will need to dry for a day or two before it will burn efficiently.

If you must use grape vines I would use a bare steel container for a kiln.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #11
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couple of local area smaller businesses prepare and sell cheese with this addition...can't explain it but it is tasty stuff. keep us posted on your results.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 03:05 PM   #12
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I know that charcoal is made this way. The inside of the paint can I don't think is galvanized because it is shiny. What I need to know is this food grade or should I use the activated?

Mike
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Unread 11-01-2009, 04:10 PM   #13
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No need in using activated charcoal $$$. If you make the charcoal with materials that you trust to be safe and clean it will be food grade.

Can you get the inside of your paint can wet and see if it rusts, overnight, before hand? I just dont want you to mess up some good homemade cheese.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 05:27 PM   #14
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So the Royal Oak or someother brand should be fine.

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