Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal Review
We are always on the hunt for excellent lump charcoal options. While we definitely have our go-to favorites, it never hurts to check out some other options. Recently, we were picking up a bag of lump charcoal and noticed this really slick-looking bag with a cool and catchy label called Jealous Devil. We figured that it might just be worth a try and we decided it'd be great if we shared our experiences with our readers.
Packaging and First Impressions
The very first thing that we noticed about Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal is the bag. Unlike pretty much everything else on the market, Jealous Devil is packaged in a weather-proof bag with a resealable sliding closure. Now, this is actually a cool feature that we appreciate quite a bit. We've had a few bags of lump over the years that got damaged by dogs, sprinklers, and gravity, so being able to seal it up and forget about it is pretty neat.
The label and logo are eye-catching, with bold, red and black colors, and a guy with a beard grilling up some steaks. That's our wheelhouse for sure. The logo is catchy, too. it reads "pure as heaven, hot as hell." Call us intrigued. Other notes on the bag tell you that the charcoal is sustainably harvested and is made in Paraguay from a wood called "Quebracho Blanco."
What is Quebracho Blanco?
The name of this sustainably harvested South American hardwood translates to "axe-breaker" and it is certainly that. In fact, old-growth and new saplings both have the same hardness, and the wood is traditionally used for things like tools. Jealous Devil sources wood that is already harvested, meaning they don't cut down forests for charcoal. The wood is then hand-fired to perfection and never includes any scrap wood.
Getting to the Good Stuff
Of course, a fancy bag is a great way to sell anything (even an inferior product) so we were prepared to be critical of this bag of lump charcoal. The first thing that we noticed on opening it up was several extra-large chunks of charcoal that were very clearly from a natural wood source. These chunks were roughly the size of a softball and heavy for their size.
Further into the bag, we found a mixture of medium and large chunks with a minimal amount of small chunks. Often, whether due to shipping or because of the way products are packaged, the bottom of the bag is little more than dust and chips. When we got down to the end, we were surprised to find practically no dust and only a few pieces that were too small to be useful.
The smell of the charcoal is unlike that of American woods we are used to using. In fact, the odor was reminiscent of mesquite, which was a bit of a concern right off the bat. Mesquite has its moments, but it isn't a wood we tend to choose for a primary smoking wood.
Regardless, we loaded up a chimney and got it lit.
Testing the Claim: Lights Easy, Burns Clean
A lot of manufacturers like to claim that their charcoal is easy to light and that it burns clean. It's a dubious claim in our opinion simply because there are lots of variables that go into lighting and burning, and it isn't always easy to differentiate one experience from another.
Our first chimney was not easy to light. In fact, it took two tries to get it going and about 20 minutes before the top of the chimney was ashing over. This might have been because we added one of the extra-large pieces in there to test it out. Our second chimney lit in about 15 minutes and didn't seem to be as challenging, so there might have been something else in play we didn't know about.
One thing that we noticed almost instantly was that this stuff does not produce sparks. While we love using top brands like Royal Oak lump charcoal, Rockwood, and Blues Hog, they have all given us pause when there are scorching bits of charcoal whizzing out of the chimney and onto the ground. We didn't notice a single spark with Jealous Devil.
There was also noticeably less smoke from the charcoal than from other brands we use. We were also happy to note that the odor of the hardwood lump was not pungent and oily like we were concerned it would be given the similarity in initial smell to mesquite.
Like many brands of lump charcoal, this one claims to have a high burn temp. This is great for grilling, but not so important when you are using lump charcoal for low and slow cooking. What we found was that when given the opportunity to get very hot, Jealous Devil had no trouble getting over 1,000ºF, plenty hot enough for searing steaks. In fact, that's quite a bit hotter than most brands we've tested.
Regulating the temperature in our charcoal smoker was a bit more of a challenge than usual, probably due to the higher burn temp. But once we got it settled in, it worked great. We went ahead and spatchcocked two chickens and got them in the smoker with the cooking temperature targeted at 240 degrees. We had no trouble keeping the temp consistent throughout the cook. Even better, this stuff burns so slowly that we only had to use two chimneys of charcoal for a four-and-a-half-hour smoke.
Surprisingly, we found that the Jealous Devil charcoal produced almost no noticeable flavor on its own. For our spatchcocked chickens, we used a combination of strong herbs like rosemary, lavender, and garlic and added hardwood chunks of hickory, flavors that came through cleanly in the finished product. The chicken skin had a perfectly crisped texture and was exceptionally juicy.
Dealing with cleaning up some of the lump charcoals we've used is a pain. Between charcoal dust and tons of ash production, it's just more work. We were surprised by how clean-burning this lump charcoal was. In fact, our ash catcher had only a very small amount of ash at the end of the day. And it was bright white, unlike many brands that leave grey, brown, or even black ash to be dealt with. The lump charcoal burned completely to nothing, so there wasn't any hardwood leftover waste that had to be sorted before the ashes could be dumped.
Final Thoughts on Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal
This was an entirely pleasant experience from start to finish and made us feel confident in recommending Jealous Devil as one of the lump charcoal brands you should try. It's a great choice for using in the Big Green Egg or on a kettle grill. We used it in an upright vertical with an offset firebox and it worked flawlessly. In fact, after our greatly successful chicken dinner, we are looking forward to making up a big batch of jerky using Jealous Devil.