How to maintain and clean your gas barbecue

As more and more of us are making the most of our outdoor space, not just for a garden, but as an extension of our homes, a good quality barbecue is an absolute must for entertaining family and friends. Complete the outdoor living experience with a good quality set of comfortable garden furniture, cheap furniture soon looks tatty and will need replacing after a couple of years, so buy the best you can afford. Another essential to allow you to enjoy your space into the evening is a heat source; there are masses of styles on the market nowadays. From the traditional potbellied chiminea to sleek minimalist European styled appliances perfect for that modern urban space and stylish combos which not only provide heat but will also allow you to grill.

As with the garden furniture it really is a no brainer when it comes to buying a gas barbecue, go for the best you can afford. Cheap grills will quickly rust, are often difficult to clean, and spare parts are often not available. opt for a trusted brand from a reputable supplier who will be able to advise on which would be suitable for your needs and budget and will be able to supply spare parts for years to come.

When it comes to choosing a barbecue, the purists may argue that nothing gives you that typical barbecue smokiness other than charcoal but grilling on a gas barbecue also gives you that barbecue taste but without all the mess and long wait for the grill to come up to temperature. Steel guards fitted over the burner tubes prevent the jets clogging and the fat dripping onto these bars will smoke and give you the characteristic barbecue flavour. The distinctive taste can also be achieved by using flavoured wood chips in a smoker box placed over the burners.

The flavour of food off a gas barbecue can be enhanced by adding lava stones or ceramic briquettes which diffuse the heat from the jets. Fat drips onto the rocks which in turn burns off and the resulting smoke again gives that distinctive BBQ flavour; the disadvantage is they have to be regularly replaced as they quickly become covered in the residue which in turn causes flare-ups. To convert the gas barbecue, remove the bars from the burners, place a sheet of steel mesh over the burners and cover with the lava rocks or ceramic briquettes.

One of the advantages of a gas barbecue is that you don’t have to dispose of any ash residue and they don’t need much cleaning out after every cook. Keeping on top of the maintenance and cleaning will ensure that your grill lasts for years; it also prevents food sticking, and any black burned bits from contaminating your food. It should only need a deep clean a couple of times a year, more if you use it frequently. Keeping your grill clean eliminates the build-up of fat residue, which in turn reduces flare-ups. Flare-ups can be dangerous not only to the pit-master but they also char the food on the outside and leave the inside uncooked, which can lead to food poisoning. Clogged jets also give an uneven and inefficient cook.

Cleaning materials required:

  • Wire grate brush
  • Scraper
  • Bucket of soapy water
  • Disposable cloth or sponge

After every cook:

  • Try and do this when the grill is still slightly warm as the residue is easier to remove
  • Brush grates with a wire brush
  • Turn burners to full and burn off any waste
  • Wipe out the bottom and the outside with soapy water
  • For the deep clean:
  • Check the gas supply for leaks by wiping a strong solution of soap and water over the hose and connections; turn on the gas with the BBQ lid open, check for bubbles and either tighten connections or replace the hose
  • Scrub the grates extra vigorously or clean with a BBQ cleaner and rinse off
  • Lightly oil cast iron grates
  • Wash the steel bars which cover the burners
  • Wipe down the burner tubes and push wire or a pipe cleaner through all the jets and shake any residue out of the tubes
  • Remove and clean off the base plates
  • Scrape off any residue from the interior and wipe out with soapy water; use a BBQ cleaner for any stubborn dirt
  • Clean out or replace the drip pan
  • Clean the exterior; stainless steel can be buffed with a little baby oil on a cotton pad
  • Replace any worn or damaged parts; these are easily sourced for reputable brands but may be impossible for a cheap grill
  • Reassemble and burn on high for about 15 minutes
  • Detach the gas bottle and store in a frost-free spot if you are not going to be using the grill regularly in winter or if a particularly harsh frost is forecast

If you don’t use your grill over winter, first of all, why not? It’s ideal for cooking the Christmas turkey, it frees up the oven for everything else. Cover with a dedicated cover, this will keep it clean, don’t wrap it tightly in plastic as this just encourages condensation which will rust the metal. If your barbecue is sited close to trees or on the bird’s flight path it would be advisable to cover at all times when not in use to keep it clean. For a few minutes, maintenance and cleaning your grill will last much longer and keep on producing tasty barbecue food.