Nothing tastes better than a perfectly barbecued steak burger! And nothing sounds better than the sizzle of sausages nicely browning over the charcoal embers. The weather may not always be perfect – but spending quality time outside with loved ones is surely top of the entertainment list for most families this year.
So you’ll need to keep your barbecue into great working order - especially if you weren’t too meticulous about cleaning it the last time you used it.
So, here’s how to go about it.
Give yourself time
Unless you’re snatching the opportunity to have an impromptu barbie on a lovely day, then give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Months spent unused can take its toll on your barbecue, so it will probably need some serious TLC before you can get grilling.
Also, don’t forget to check on your barbecue fuel supplies and dig out your barbecue utensils, making sure they’re all clean too.
Check your BBQ is in full working order
Check your barbecue is in good condition, particularly if you haven’t used it for some time. Checking your BBQ is in good working order will also help ensure it’s safe to use.
Look for loose or damaged parts that may need adjustment or repair, and that includes checking the metal vents still open and close. Add some lubricant if needed.
If you have a gas barbecue, then it’s really important to check it for leaks. Check the instructions to see how to do this for your model. If you don’t have the user manual anymore, check to see if it’s available on the manufacturer’s website.
If your BBQ has been left outside all winter and is rusting and falling apart, then don’t be tempted to just use it anyway - it’s probably time for a replacement.
How to clean your barbecue
Your BBQ will probably need a good clean after months of no use over the winter.
For a start, check your BBQ’s cleaning instructions, as cleaning methods can vary: for example, some recommend against using wire-wool scouring pads, while it’s OK for others.
There are almost as many ways to clean a BBQ as there are tips and tricks for cooking on it.
One is to start by firing it up and leave it with the lid on for 15 minutes or so. This will turn any old remnants of food on your grill into a blackened layer which - once your BBQ has cooled down - is then fairly easy to scrub off. The idea is that this will also sterilize the cooking surface.
Another method, a little surprisingly, involves half a raw onion. You attach this onto the end of a fork and then rub it onto the grill when it’s hot. Odd though it may seem, it should take off a lot of the grime.
Alternatively, you can buy yourself a stainless-steel grill brush and get to work scrubbing with some hot and soapy water. If you don’t have a suitable brush, one popular method is to screw some foil up into a ball and use that instead.
To clean the BBQ bowl, or cavity, first remove any big bits of dirt, and then simply use warm soapy water, with a sponge.
Cleaning a gas BBQ
If you have a gas barbecue, before you start cleaning, you need to disconnect it from its gas supply.
You’ll then need to remove the grills and fat tray to clean them separately. One way to get rid of all of that baked-on grime is to soak the grills overnight in a hot water and soda crystal solution (soda crystals are easy to find in most supermarkets, online or stores like Robert Dyas, Wilko, or your local hardware store. The next day you can use a sponge or wire brush to clean any dirt, before rinsing and putting the BBQ back together.
You should also clean the gas burner. Try using a steel brush and then a metal pin to unblock individual gas outlets.
What to do after your BBQ
Bellies full and guests heading home, be sure to take a few minutes to get your barbecue ready for its next use.
One way to do this is to steam-clean it. While the barbecue is cooling down, soak an old newspaper in water and use it to cover the grill. Close the lid and let it work its magic.
Once your barbecue has totally cooled down and is nice and clean, be sure to put it somewhere where it’s protected from the elements. Ideally this would be in a shed or garage. If that’s not possible, it’s worth investing in a BBQ cover.
Then it will all be ready to use next time you want to cook up an outdoor feast.