Charcoal Seasoning: A Dark Spice Blend From The South

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Charcoal seasoning is a simple spice blend consisting of activated charcoal, MSG, and a handful of basic seasonings like onion powder and garlic powder. Charcoal seasoning blends often contain salt as well.

The activated charcoal in charcoal seasoning typically lists bone char, olive pits and coconut shells among its ingredients. What separates activated charcoal from charcoal briquets is that high temperatures have been used to activate it. The activation process changes its internal structure.

Charcoal seasoning was invented in 1935 by a Greek immigrant named Rubin Hanan and his wife Julia. The two began selling steaks liberally seasoned with their charcoal spice blend called Black Magic. These steaks and the seasoning blend became very popular locally in their hometown of Montgomery, Alabama.

For a long time, the only way to get the Hanans’ spice blend was to purchase steaks from their butcher shop called the Penny Profit. There was no way to get the seasoning by itself. Hanan might give away samples of his spice blends to his favorite customers, but he never shared the recipes.

The Penny Profit store became successful mainly because of spice blends created by the Hanans. When Rubin Hanan made the decision to retire, he sold the store to the Landers Family who still own it. The Landers’ patriarch had been a close family friend of the Hanans. He decided to get the line of seasonings going again.

These days, there is no need to buy a steak to get charcoal seasoning as it is available online. Not only the Hanans’ original recipe but many other varieties as well.

Charcoal seasoning flavor profile

Charcoal seasoning’s main flavor profiles are smoky and savory. The smokiness comes from the activated charcoal and the savory flavors come from other common ingredients like salt and MSG. Note that different makers will have different blends so expect the flavor profiles to vary.

Health benefits of charcoal seasoning

Charcoal seasoning is not a nutrient-rich seasoning – none of its ingredients have any more than trace amounts of important vitamins and minerals, but that does not mean that it is without any value for enhancing health. Charcoal seasoning actually has some very important benefits.

  • Detoxification: The porous texture of the activated charcoal used in charcoal seasoning has a negative electrical charge. Because of the negative charge, it attracts molecules with positive charges. Toxins have positive charges. As a result, charcoal seasonings can help to trap compounds that are detrimental to health. Charcoal’s ability to detoxify is why it has been used as an antidote to poison for more than a century.
  • Improved kidney health: Charcoal seasoning may help your kidneys function better because of the activated charcoal it contains. It can boost your kidney function by lowering the waste products filtered by the kidneys.
  • Flatulence: Charcoal seasoning can neutralize intestinal gases according to some studies. Researchers are unclear exactly how it works but note that the gases can pass through the pores in activated charcoal.

Health concerns

The activated charcoal in charcoal seasoning doesn’t bind to toxins only, it can bind with medications as well. When it binds with medications, it can make them less effective.

Common uses

Charcoal seasoning provides a freshly grilled flavor to seafood, burgers and ribs. You can use it in place of any dry rub. Add charcoal seasoning to meats, vegetables and seafood whether you are pan-frying or grilling them.