The footy finals are over and the cricket is back on the tele. You’ve suffered your first surprise sunburn for the year and every morning it becomes that little bit easier to climb out from under the warm covers.
This can only mean one thing: barbie season is approaching.
As any outdoor chef knows however, before you can invite the friends around for a few laughs, some drinks and grilled masterpieces, pre-season preparation is required. How vigorous the preparation needs to be depends on what your barbie’s been up to in the off-season.
If you find it’s buried beneath a pile of leaves in the backyard, or still mounted on the port-side railing of your long-untouched boat, or hidden in the depths of your caravan, now is the time to give it a spring clean and a tune up, ready for the long season ahead.
These simple cleaning and maintenance tips will ensure that you’re fired up all summer long.
The Big Season-Opening Clean
First things first: Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning, and turn off and disconnect the gas.
Secondly, you need to ensure that you have appropriate cleaning agents and equipment for your stainless steel BBQ.
You can use specialised BBQ cleaning products, which will do the job, but good old-fashioned dish washing liquid or vinegar, combined with water, will do just as well and are far less expensive. These can be used to clean the BBQ frame, as well as the cooking surfaces.
Whatever you do, avoid all bleach and chlorine-based products, as they are dangerous to use around flames.
When cleaning the BBQ frame, a scotch pad applied in the direction of the steel grain will remove “tea staining” that can occur on 304-grade stainless steel. A slim flexible brush, such as an old toothbrush, is good for getting into all of those narrow spaces.
Avoid using abrasive cleaning equipment, such as steel wool scrubbers,
which can scratch the surface and lead to rusting.
When attacking the cooking surfaces, a stiff-bristle wire brush, a scraper and plenty of elbow grease should remove any nasty build-up. If not, oven cleaner can be used, but you should be careful not to get any on the decals.
For a particularly greasy BBQ that has suffered from years of neglect, a high pressure cleaner is very effective and comes with the added advantage of allowing you to forego the elbow grease!
Routine Cleaning & General Maintenance
No one likes to see a dirty BBQ let alone have their dinner cooked on one, so to ensure that your friends keep coming around this summer, you’ll need to give it a routine scrub ‘n’ scrape. The best and easiest time to clean your BBQ is immediately after cooking when it’s still hot.
Once again, the simplest and cheapest way of doing this is to scrub the cooking surfaces using a dash of vinegar in warm water. This will remove the grease and oils without leaving a nasty chemical residue. A wire brush may be used on most hotplates, but to be safe, always check the manufacturer’s instructions first.
As for the burners, some people like to spray them with cooking oil and scrape off the grease and burnt deposits, while others have been known to simply throw a bottle of beer over them. The choice is yours, but the latter seems like a waste of good beer if you ask me!
To dry up, use a paper towel or BBQ wipes to vigorously rub over the grill, hotplate and burners.
If in between cooking, serving and eating, you forgot to clean the barbie last time around, be sure to give it a once over before you start the next time. Always turn the burners on to full heat for approximately 10 minutes before doing so, as this will make removing the grease from the plates much easier.
Additional Quick Tips!
• Use oil when barbecuing to prevent food from sticking to your grill and hotplate, thus making it easier to clean!
• Line the drip tray with tin foil, being sure to dispose of it every few uses. Always wait until the grease has cooled first!
• Even if stored in a sheltered area, keep your barbie covered with a suitable weather-proof cover to protect it from moisture, as well as salt ingress in coastal environments.
So There You Have It
Following these simple cleaning and maintenance tips will not only ensure that your barbecued dishes are tastier than ever and your BBQ is sparkling this summer, but that it remains that way for many summers to come.