Summer is all about living life on the deck, but the sunny season could lose a lot of its sizzle if your barbecue isn’t up to scratch. The barbecue is the centrepiece of many decks, producing delicious food for al fresco dining, and acting as a magnet for blokes, who stand around the barbie entranced by the sight of all that meat. However, before you throw any parties on the deck, your barbecue will need some attention after being unused and unloved over the winter months. Here’s how to get your barbecue ready for summer.
Measure your fuel level: A gas bottle with no gas is just a bottle. No gas means no barbecue, and VERY rare steaks. So, the very first thing to do is check how much you have in the bottle. You can buy a gauge which will tell you how much is in there, or pour a glass of warm water down the side of your bottle. Wherever the water starts to feel cool on the bottle is the gas level.
Check for gas leaks: Cold weather causes gas lines to contract, which can lead to cracks. To check for leaks, brush your gas lines with soapy water and look for bubbles while the gas is running. This indicates a leak, potentially a dangerous one, so consider replacing the line for the safety of everyone.
Make your own cleaning solution: All sorts of gunk can accumulate all over the barbecue and it will need a good clean before you fire it up. You can give the exterior a wash with warm soapy water to remove dust and grime. For the more baked on stuff, particularly on the plates and interior of your barbie, mix one-part white vinegar with one-part water. Put this solution into a spray bottle so you can apply it onto hard to reach places. This formula should lift off the worst of the gunk after an hour or so, making it relatively easy to wipe or brush off.
Give it a brush and a poke: The cleaner the barbie, the more hygienic it is, so this is a fairly important part of the process. Grab a good wire brush and scrub plates, grills or anything where gunk has built up. The vinegar-based solution you have applied earlier should make the job a bit easier. While you’re at it, get a toothpick or a paper clip and poke it into the burner ports to unclog the system and improve gas flow.
Check the colour of the flame: Here’s something seasoned barbecue cooks always look for: a blue flame with yellow tips. If there is too much yellow in the flames, it’s a sign there’s not enough consistent heat, which isn’t a recipe for great barbecue cooking. You might need to clean the inside of the burners, or adjust the burner air intake. Or, do a barbie reboot: disconnect the tank, open and close the valves, and reconnect. If that doesn’t help, expert maintenance may be required.
A little touch of oil: A light coating of oil on the plates and grills can prevent rust and keep food from sticking when you cook on the barbie for the first time each summer.
These steps are simple yet essential. Life on the deck isn’t worth living if your barbecue isn’t hot to trot, so give it some TLC ASAP!