7 Reasons to Love a Log-burner in Rural Mallorca

The first snow of the season fell on Mallorca this week, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tramuntana mountain range. The magnificent mountains are a long way from our home, but it still felt pretty cold here in our valley. Like other parts of Europe, we’ve been battered by fierce winds for a couple of days.

Indoors, at least, we’re keeping warm – thanks to our much-loved Jotul wood-burning stove. We often say that this chunk of metal, in our north-facing sitting room, is the thing we love best about winter.

Here are the reasons we’re so glad we invested in this essential piece of kit for winter on Mallorca:

Our winter warmer

Our winter warmer

It keeps us – and the house – warm around the clock. We feed it a big chunky log just before we go to bed and it burns gently through the night.

It makes great jacket potatoes. Once prepared, with a good bathing of olive oil and dusting of flor de sal, the potatoes are wrapped in a double layer of aluminium foil and placed on the fire bricks lining the sides of the wood-burner. One hour later, we have fluffy jacket potatoes with crispy golden skin. Bring on the butter!

Plate-warming is easy: we’ve placed a small metal trivet on top of the stove and I put the plates on top of this to warm them while I’m cooking dinner. If you try this, do make sure the trivet and plates are well-balanced. On one occasion,  I placed the plates slightly off-centre on the trivet and they crashed to the ground, smashing into dozens of pieces on the stone hearth. Plate-warming fail.

Cooking soup on top of the wood-burner is a breeze, and saves butano.  I simply prepare everything on the kitchen hob and then when the soup has started to bubble gently, the pan goes on top of the stove, to sit there cooking gently for the morning until lunchtime

It successfully proves bread dough. I never make my own bread in summer because it’s much too hot to have the kitchen oven throwing out even more heat. But, in winter, I bring out my inner baker and get kneading. Unlike our old home in England, we don’t have an airing cupboard in which to prove the dough. Instead, we use the log-burner: placing the bowl containing the dough on a table in the same room as the fire makes easy work of the proving process.

It keeps Minstral, our elderly Birman cat, happy. It’s only in the past couple of years that Minstral has decided he likes the warmth of the log-burner. Once upon a time he would give it a wide berth as he walked past but, at the age of 17, he’s finally realized that there’s nowhere more inviting than the rug in front of the hearth.

Home is where the hearth is . . .

Home is where the hearth is . . .

It makes everywhere dusty. OK, so this isn’t exactly A Good Thing – unless you love dusting (which I don’t). But with so many benefits, The Boss and I can forgive the Jotul for endowing the sitting room with a layer of dust more befitting Miss Havisham’s home.

Throw on another log . . .

Jan Edwards Copyright2014 

A Burning Issue in Mallorca

The weather hasn’t been too cold so far on Mallorca this winter, although February is looming on the horizon and it’s the month that can bring snow and very chilly conditions. Even though the mercury hasn’t plunged too far down yet, we’ve kept our Jotul wood-burning stove going 24/7 since some time in November. The Boss likes to  “keep the walls warm”.  We’ve been quite warm too (and there were winters here when I thought I’d never say that).

In previous winters we’ve had to perform the routine task of cleaning out the stove pipe about once a month. It’s a tedious task – and a very messy one. We have to let the fire go out, then remove the metal pipe connecting the stove with the chimney entry point, and then clean out all the black gunk that’s accumulated inside, before putting the whole thing back together.

Making a Pass or Two 

Did I say ‘we’? Tut, tut. It’s actually The Boss who does the lion’s share of this cleaning job. He’s the one up the ladder cleaning the chimney access and taking the pipe outside to clean it out. I just stand at the foot of the ladder passing him the necessary implements, like a surgeon’s assistant: “bucket”, “large metal pokey thing” (I’ve no idea what it used to be), “small metal pokey thing” (ditto), and “mirror” (so he can see up into the chimney).  The whole job takes about an hour – time we could certainly use more enjoyably.

This winter The Boss gave the stove pipe and chimney a very thorough clean before lighting it for the first time. And, unlike previous years, we haven’t had to clean it again until today. The stove has a way of letting us know when it’s necessary – and it usually involves stinky smoke filling the room. It was today. Job now done.

We can only conclude that we’ve been buying cleaner-burning wood since we changed our supplier to one in Porreres. We also get more for our money there. And that’s always a burning issue.

Man at work

Man at work

Jan Edwards Copyright 2014

Five Go With Us Into the Winter – Part 3: the Logburner

Not such a blast from the past - our old almond-shell-burning stove

Not such a blast from the past – our old almond-shell-burning stove

When we moved into our finca in Mallorca there was a traditional metal open fireplace in the sitting room. We’d been looking forward to cosy winters in front of a log fire, roasting chestnuts, as we enjoyed a glass or two of one of the delicious Son Sureda Ric (www.sonsuredaric.com) wines, produced in our region of Mallorca.

We had a small supply of logs delivered and lit our first fire with great excitement, but it wasn’t long before we had to open all the doors and windows because of the smoke billowing around the room. Somewhat counterproductive when you’re lighting a fire to keep warm!

The Boss soon got to grips with the fireplace, but meeting its demand for logs became difficult. Because it was an open fire – and our home is exposed to the north winds that often whip up the valley – the wood burned very quickly and little heat seemed to come into the room.

Norwegian Good

So we invested in a Norwegian Jotul woodburner, which has filled our winters with warmth and pleasure – and is one of the best things about winter in Mallorca. It’s very economical with logs and, even better, will burn slowly 24/7 if we want it to. Not only does it give us heat, I often cook jacket potatoes inside it, and make soup that sits in a large pan on top of the stove, slowly cooking through the morning so that it’s ready for lunch. Oh, and it makes a useful plate-warmer too!

One of the things left behind in our finca by the previous owners was a Hergóm stove. It no longer worked, having at some stage had its stovepipe removed, but at one time it would have been used to burn almond shells – a handy fuel on an island with so many almond trees. I’ve tried to persuade The Boss that we should recommission it and install it in the bathroom, but to no avail.

However, I gave the old stove a bit of a spruce-up and it’s become a purely decorative feature in our home – a rustic reminder of how homes like this would once have been heated. Except that on one of our visits to Leroy Merlin – a DIY store on the outskirts of Palma – we saw one of these stoves for sale. It looked exactly the same as ours at home, and had a price tag of 300 euros. So much for nostalgia.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012