How to use the kamados well

As bound to happen with any other device if not having much knowledge on the subject and some previous experience, the usage of the kamado requires some learning for its proper handling and for being able to to get the most out of it. This knowledge can be easily acquired by consulting the users’ manuals included on the kamado’s purchase, which are also available on the brand’s websites, on forum’s tutorials and, of course, by the experience provided by practice. The current section is not aimed to be used as a substitute of the mentioned information sources, which reading we recommend, but it does aim to collect some basic tips or suggestions that aren’t always taken into account and can be quite useful when cooking with your kamado and when putting into practice our favourite recipes with total security and for getting the best results:

Reception: most of the kamado’s purchases are via online, since there are few physical shops in which to buy them in Spain. On this website we recommend reliable shops for your kamado purchase. In case of having acquired it from some online shopping kamado web, it will be sent by a shipping company, and thus your kamado could be damaged by the shipment process. We recommend to roughly check the package received in order to make sure the outer packaging isn’t damaged. In case of having a damaged package, make sure to state it on the delivery note. In case of receiving an undamaged package, we recommend you to deeply revise all of the kamado parts immediately, with the purpose of informing the dispatcher and the kamado seller as soon as possible. The shipping companies generally have a complaint deadline.

Assembly: even if it sounds obvious, once you receive your kamado purchase, and when assembling the different set parts (if so required), it’s highly recommended to follow verbatim the assembling instructions provided by the brand. A faulty assembly of your kamado could lead into bad functioning or, even worse: cause structural damage not covered by the guarantee.

Location: kamados are very clean and secure kitchen tools due its closed design and dome, its reduced exterior overheat and few smoke emissions, used mostly outside, but if followed the needed precautions, they can be used on terraces, porches, balconies and even inside. However, for all of this usage options, especially the last ones, it’s very important to make sure the current local normative in means of security on the region or country you are going to use the kamado allows so, since these laws are not the same everywhere and in some cases there could be some restrictions or prohibitions. In other respects, no matter the place chosen for the kamado placement, it’s important to highlight that this one should stand on a solid, flat and resistant surface in order to be able to work with the right stability and, thus, with the best security.

Planning: as mentioned several times before, kamado is an extremely versatile and polyvalent kitchen tool able to cook any type of food and work as a grill to roast with direct fire as a tradicional barbecue would do, as a ceramic oven to cook with indirect fire at either high or low temperatures, as a smoker… Each different usage or recipe will require a specific configuration in order to get the best output out of your kamado, a more or less concrete temperature and the usage of different accessories such as baffles, stands, grills or special recipients, stones for pizzas, roasters, etc. For this reason, it’s recommended to make a meticulous previous planning that, obviously, will be less laborious the more experienced in its usage we get and the more internalized we have the different recipes, as well as the numerous possibilities kamado offers and everything we need to get them done right.

Fuel: choosing the charcoal to make the embers and the starters used for its ignition, it’s a more important task that what it might seem at first sight if we’re looking to obtain the best results out of our kamado. The usage of 100% natural organic products will stop the favour from getting polluted by the fuels and fire igniters in which there are used chemical substances to enhance certain features. These last kind of fuels mentioned are not a health danger, as they own the required sanitary certificates, but can spoil the favour of the recipes made on the kamado. In the coal case, it’s recommended the usage of additive free charcoal of ecologic production, in order to help the environment as much as possible, and also charcoal made out of homogenic pieces nor to big nor, more important, too small so there’s space between them and the air and this one can flow uninterruptedly facilitating the chimney effect.

At last, it’s recommended NOT to use flammable liquids as igniters. The usage of gasoline, methanol or others, leads to certain risks that must be avoided. Besides, apart from its dangerousness, this products affect the food’s taste, which could spoil any recipe.

Ignition: the kamados’ ignition is as simple to perform as many other functions and doesn’t require much expertise. You will only need to open the door found at the base and the upper ventilation duct so it works as a chimney, fill the inside of the kamado with coal, set it on fire, close the dome and wait until the embers are ready and the heat is stable at desired temperature, for which you’ll have to regulate the opening of the ventilation ducts to increase of reduce the entrance of oxygen and, thus, increase or reduce the temperature. This last task might be the hardest one for beginners, but if firstly you check the instructions provided by the user’s manual and internet tutorials, and if you get practice, it will soon become an everyday task as any other. With a kamado, it’s convenient to always use the same ignition products and techniques so you get familiar with reproducible guidelines that can be followed at other occasions to achieve the same results.

In regard to coal ignition, we can get aid of different tools: blow torches, air guns and electrical resistances created specifically for that purpose, outer ignition chimneys in which embers get ready quick to then be put into the kamado, etc. To all of these products it’s worth adding the so called “igniters”, from which the most recommendable would be the ecological ignition pickup and wood wool bouquets, both additive free, so the flavour doesn’t get spoiled. Because of this, and for security reasons that could invalidate the kamados’ guarantee, it’s not recommendable, as we said before, the usage of gasoline, methanol, gels or other flammable liquids nor ignition pickups made out of petroleum or kerosene by-products. A bad igniter choice, besides implying certain dangers, could ruin the best plate.

At last, we would like to briefly mention the fact that, depending on the usage you destine the kamado for or depending on the plate to cook, the recommended ignition procedure can vary. Thus, in order to cook with direct fire as you would with a grill or barbecue, the most important thing is to achieve uniform ember distribution, and so, once the coal is set on fire and the ember heaps formed, you will have to distribute it around the inside and close the dome with the chimneys opened until the embers surface is distributed homonenecally. By contrast, in order to cook with indirect fire it could be more useful to set the coal by its midst and collect around the smaller coal pieces with care not to kill the flame and then close the dome leaving the ventilation ducts completely opened until there’s an ember heap at the core of the inside. From here on, once established the temperature by regulating the chimneys, we would be ready to cook with any of the two systems.

Security: as mentioned, kamados are extremely secure kitchen tools, as they barely get overheated while using it and because of the fact that they include a dome that remains close while cooking preventing jumping embers or debris. Even though counting with this security feature, a gadget that works with embers is still dangerous, and so, even though it’s secure, it is important not to leave unleashed pets around to the kamado and prevent kids from play near while in use or when the cooking is finished but the machine is still hot. Being greatly cautious is not difficult and can prevent unnecessary avoidable risks and accidents by following simple cautions. One last advice in means of security to take into account when using your kamado is the one about the “flashback” phenomenon, which is basically a big flare produced when, after some time of high temperature usage, you open offhandedly the kamado’s door and the massive oxigen entrance causes the ignition of gases produced due coal combustion. In order to avoid this small deflagration, you will only need to open the dome in two times: you first open it until there’s a slight aperture, and leave it like that for 5 seconds to then open it completely with no danger. This small caution won’t cost no effort and can prevent a bad surprise.

Moving: except for some small kamado designs or some thought to be directly placed on the floor or fitted in furniture specifically made for them, the immense majority of kamados come with their own wheel legs or are assembled over wheelbarrows that allow its transportation with total comfort. Moving it is an easy task which nevertheless requires a few cautions in order to prevent accidents that could damage people or the kamado itself. Among the said cautions, it’s worth mentioning, first of all, the fact that its moving is infinitely more secure when the kamado is cold and not in use. For obvious reasons, it is not safe to move it when turned on or when it’s still hot from cooking. For this reason, one of the things to bear in mind when doing the mentioned planning is placing the kamado at the chosen place before starting to cook so we don’t have to move it once having started.

Apart from this, other cautions worth mentioning in means of kamado moving are: getting the right grip, that must be done by grabbing the kamado by its fix parts, not the articulated ones such as the hinges or the legs, the choice of the path to move it, that must be flat and compact, and finally, in the case of certain size kamados, the need to move it between at least two people in order to prevent certain incidents.

Cleaning: it is often said that the cleaning of the kamados is one of the big virtues of it and it’s true. The high temperatures this peculiar tools can achieve allow them to work as pyrolytic ovens in which either organic and inorganic waste stuck to the walls or remaining on the inside get reduced to cinders. This feature makes its inner cleaning really easy and not laborious since it basically consists on collecting the cinders generated during the cooking by using the removable ashtrays and the dust pans good quality kamados usually provide. If this task is made after its usage and there’s unburned coal left we pretend to seize, it’s convenient to stir it using an appropriate tool it once the kamado is completely turned off with the purpose of filtering any cinder remaining within the coal so it falls to the ashtray and can be collected just then.

The cleaning of the grills, griddles and other cooking recipients deserve a separate mention, even though it doesn’t differ from the cleaning of analogous accessories used in other kitchen systems and we just need to mention that, when it gets dirty due fat waste, the cleaning is more effective if done when the mentioned tools are not completely cold yet.

Concerning exterior cleaning, it won’t cost you much effort neither. You will only need to wipe a wet rag over the surface and avoid the usage of chemical products or abrasive elements that could damage the varnish or painting the kamado is covered with.

Maintenance: as any other device or tool, besides its cleaning, the kamado will need certain maintenance tasks in order to ensure its right functioning, its preservation in the best conditions and the prolongation of its useful life. In any case, by its own specificity, sturdiness and its simple and long lasting design, this tasks will, again, be minimal, and consist basically on removing and substituting the isolation joints placed on the lips of the dome and the base when we notice that they don’t work anymore because they are worn off. An easy task that can be done with a simple spatula. It doesn’t require much skills and we are provided with replacements by the manufacturers.

Apart from that, there are other minor maintenance tasks that must be done with certain periodicity: checking the nuts and screws placed on the articulated parts such as the hinges in order to ensure that they aren’t loose due usage, oiling the hinges with lube oils or applying vegetal oil from time to time to the upper ventilation disc. With these minimum cares, your kamado can last for an entire life and pass through generations.

Storage: unlike other outside kitchen tools such as grills or barbecues, kamados are good at standing bad weather and, as they have its own dome the food and embers stay protected enabling cooking in adverse weather conditions. Some wind or rain won’t impede the kamado usage which, except for some mediocre quality ones, are manufactured with materials such as ceramic enameled with special paints or varnishes and stainless steel metallic elements that resist bad weather with no difficulty and don’t suffer from corrosion or other type of problems. Nevertheless, if we want to preserve our kamado at the best conditions, it’s recommended to clean it when they are not in use or are not expected to be used for some time, remove the coal and cover them with the protective bags they usually come with. If we are not planning to use our kamado for a long period of time, the best option would be to store them carefully in a covered, dry and clean place. As mentioned, in terms of maintenance, some minimum cares will expand its useful life and make kamados last for generations in perfect conditions.