A true charcoal kiln at Osteria Magona

How to produce Vegetable Carbon

The period of carbon working goes from early spring until late June, that is after the cutting of trees that begins in October and ends in April.

The coalman prepares the PIAZZA which corresponds to a circular square with a diameter of six to about ten meters, perfectly horizontal. At the centre the ZEPPO is planted, which is a wooden pin and an indicative point to start the construction.

After having placed all the wood to be cooked at the edges of the square, three TRIANGLE systems are used, three sticks driven into the ground around the centre and connected to the upper end by a ring made of flowering ash wood to form a sort of cylinder, or SQUARE-SHAPE always with the same system, or at CASTELLINA system, pole in the middle and small woods surmounted two by two around the pole for a height of about one meter. At this point the INVOLGITURA process begins, which consists of positioning the woods in an eccentric manner, expanding in a spiral over the whole PIAZZA, depending on the quantity of timber, more floor can be made.

When the work is completed, we move to IMPELLATURA, with very fine wood we try to plug up all the spaces between one wood and another the final layer of the LEATHER.

Once the RIZZATURA is finished, a term that indicates the use of all the wood to be cooked, the CALZUOLO is made, a ring made up of clods of fresh soil and grass also called IOVE or PELLICCE placed at the base of the charcoal pile.

The next operation is the covering with dry leaves, called PACCIAMATURA and afterwards, a black coloured soil already used for old charcoal kilns. At this point, the central pole is removed and the actual cooking of the wood begins, in the hole obtained in removing the pole, a bit of burning embers prepared outside the square are filled with small pieces of wood up to the top of the hole, action called RIMBOCCATURA, it closes like a cork with a plate of coarse ground, repeating the operation for the first day every three or four hours. The FILLINGS push into the hole with the PERTICA, a long stick taller than the charcoal kiln, an essential tool for a coalman.

The correct cooking of the charcoal kiln for the following days will indicate, through precise and properly deciphered signals from the coalman, the complete charring of the wood, from the initial white colour of the water vapor, to the final bluish colour that comes out continuously from the charcoal kiln, a signal of fundamental importance. The coalman has to be able to guide the fire with special holes that he practices first at the base of the charcoal kiln and then upwards with a tool called FUMAIOLO, a pointed curved stick, the first holes are called CAGNOLI, the following ones are called PANCHINI.

The control of the external ventilation, that could compromise the good result, is regulated by the so-called PARAVENTE, walls made with heather branches connected by flowering ash crosses poles that are oriented according to the wind.

The last operation is the shutdown or SCARBONATURA, which consists in leaving the CALZOLO and then a first roughing of the soil that covers the TRAPALATURA charcoal kiln and with a special rake called SEMONDINO, the raw soil is pulverized decreasing the temperature to then put it back on the carbon and cool it down, the day after the carbon is separated from the remaining soil with large rakes, it is stretched to cool it down again, it is piled up and with a tray called VAGLIO built with strips of interwoven chestnut, jute bags are filled and the edges are closed with RANDOLI, small wooden pegs that will prevent the FILLINGS, which are larger pieces placed over all the rest of the bagged coal, to let it out.

The carbon is ready for the transport and commercialization.