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Baby you can light my fire!

How to light the perfect fire in a wood burning stove

1. Wood burns best on a layer of ash so you always need to ensure there is a nice flat bed of ash at the base of the fire. This will of course not be possible if you have just bought your stove and it is the first time you are lighting it, but thereafter it is always best to leave at least some ash in the fire bed and is not advisable to burn straight onto the grate or base brick every time.

2. To get your fire started, you will need small pieces of wood called kindling. These small pieces create a good, strong flame which warms the chimney up and gets the inside of the stove hot enough to put your logs on. Softwood or kiln dried kindling is best and must not be treated or painted wood. The kindling must be spaced out evenly to allow a good airflow and we recommend 3 layers arranged in a criss-cross, or camp-fire fashion. You can buy kindling and natural fire lighters here.

3. When your stove is all laid up with firelighters and kindling, the next step is of course to light it. Using matches or a lighter, light the firelighters. Open the air controls on the stove and leave the door open ajar. Leaving the door open slightly will do 2 things. Firstly, it will ensure more air gets inside the stove so the kindling will light quicker and secondly, it should stop the glass from misting up as the air wash system in your stove will not be up to temperature yet to help keep the glass clear.

4. Make sure you start off with a couple of small logs to begin with as the stove is not up to temperature yet, putting a large piece of wood on may kill the fire. The same as with the kindling ensure they are spaced out evenly to allow a good airflow and not too close to the glass, as this can cause it to blacken up! Close the door on the stove and over the course of a few minutes; slowly close the air controls down. Try not to close them down entirely; this will smother the fire as there will be no oxygen to allow the fire to burn. Make sure the wood you are using is well seasoned and has not been treated with anything. You can buy wood here, or if you are seasoning your own wood, it is best to use a moisture meter so you know when your logs are dry enough to burn. IMPORTANT Only burn wood with less than 20% moisture. We sell moisture meters.

5. Last but not least, sit back and enjoy your stove!

Cooking Demo report…

Our cooking demonstration on Sat 14th of November was well attended. The Tubby Jacks were fired up prior to opening the showroom and some Plain Air Cured Bacon was first up.

Not surprisingly there was some good interest in this demonstration!!

We then added Tubby Jacks Hickory wood chips and hot smoked the bacon.

In a word, delicious, it is amazing how quickly the bacon took on the flavour of the hickory chips and with so many choices of flavour of wood chips we have a lot of experimenting to do !

Next up was plain pork sausages and again we used Hickory Chips to add some additional flavouring. We soon ran out of these and again the flavour was amazing.

We had some Pork Belly marinating overnight with some Star Anise, Szechuan peppercorn and honey. The Tubby Jacks handled this brilliantly, slow cooked for 1 hour then we opened up the vents and got the temperature cranked right up to for the last 5 mins to finish the charring. The pork was tender, juicy and sticky.

To finish off  we had some chicken wings in a home made Buffalo sauce.

The event was a roaring success and we were so busy we didn’t even get time to get a few pictures taken !

I can’t help wonder how excited the six people will be when they open their Christmas Presents this year to discover they have been given a Tubby Jacks for Christmas.

Pigeon Post… Stop the Pigeon… stop the pigeon

Now in residence in the back of one our buildings, for the last month or so we have had to be very quiet as these two young squabs have been growing rapidly and look like they are too big for their nest now. The ladders (that their parents deemed a suitable base for their des-res) have been out of action for some years now, lucky for them eh.

Like the parents of these two, we have had a very busy spring with special offers from a couple of the stove manufacturers helping to bring in the bacon. These spring offers have now ended… oh dear I hear you say but fear not we will be bringing our own Summer promotion in the next few weeks please watch this space :)

We have had good sales of wood fuel this spring despite what appears to be one of the warmest we have had since 1910.

The following is taken from the Met Office website.

Early figures suggest third warmest spring on record

Early statistics from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre show that this has been one of the warmest springs in records dating back to 1910.

Based on figures up until 28 May and then assuming average conditions to the end of the month, the mean temperature for the UK for the season is 8.97 °C, third warmest in the records (beaten by 2007 with 9.05 °C and 2011 with 9.15 °C ”

Lets hope the summer is glorious…

The Happy Forrester :)

Hot off the stove…more than warmth…

Over the last season with various power cuts interrupting our daily lives, I have out of necessity been experimenting with cooking in our wood-burners over the last few months and I thought I would share my initial findings…..

The stove of choice a Contura 51L, one pizza,one home made trivet and a piece of granite.

First off get the stove up to normal running temperature then allowing the fire to burn until its created a nice bed of embers. I made a trivet out of  steel angle offcuts to raise the cooking platform up off the embers in the base of the stove and then the piece of honed granite from our stone masons (www.rectorystone.co.uk) resting on top of the trivet. Preheating the granite is necessary as putting a big lump of cold stone into the hot stove may cause damage to the stone if not the stove (pic 1 preheating the granite on the top of the stove, temp achieved was 165 degrees C).

You can see the temperatures achieved are really fantastic, the red laser dot showing where I am taking the reading from in degrees Celsius.

Perfectly cooked pizza in 5-6 mins, I also put a couple of pieces of kindling in the embers so that they smouldered and the smoke infused the pizza…result a very tasty lunch which was the envy of the office. A beautiful golden tinge to the cheese and a crunchy base, a perfect wood fired pizza…. then the only thing to do was reload the stove with fresh logs and in 5 mins the stove was back up to temperature.

I have been experimenting with cooking baked potatoes, bacon, sausages, lamb chops, rack of ribs to name a few and may well add more to the log over the next few months, stay happy, warm and full.

The Happy Forrester :)

Problems getting your fire started in cold weather?

Problems getting your fire started in cold weather?
When it’s really cold outside, smoke may “blow” back into the room when lighting a fire. This can happen when dense cold air creates a “plug” in the chimney that stops the initial smoke flowing up the flue.To overcome this it is important to push the plug of cold air up the chimney with a rush of hot air. The following tips often help:

  • Place loose balls of newspaper or use firelighters such as Flamers at the back of the fire or stove, then light them with all the air vents open. This should create rush of hot air to push the cold plug of air up the flue. Opening the stove door slightly can also create a forced draught.
  • You will see the smoke suddenly disappear when the plug is cleared from the flue.
  • Add more newspaper if needed until a strong updraft is established.
  • Once an updraft is created, use paper and kindling to get the fire started, and gradually add larger pieces of firewood as normal.
  • Always make sure good dry wood is used as damp wood will add to the problem of smoking. Have the chimney swept regularly as blow back of smoke can also indicate a blockage or restriction in the flue.

The Happy Forrester


PS. If all else fails then a hair dryer can help solve the problem when blown up the chimney to warm the flue before lighting the stove!! Simple!

Wood Nymph

A few more reasons to invest in a woodburning stove.

Investing now in low-carbon and renewable energy is likely to save householders as much as £600 a year on their electricity bills in the future, the Government’s official climate advisers say in a new report.

Click here to read the full article! 

“The report finds that the primary cause of energy bill increases since 2004 has been the increase in the international gas price, which makes up 62 per cent of the rise in the typical household bill.”