Barbecues may be an integral part of the ideal Aussie summer; one of the B’s in the Aussie man’s Big 3 B’s – Beers, Barbys and Babes.
For a variety of reasons this is an aspect of the Aussie culture that seems to changing with barbecues becoming more of an all year round social gathering.
It is very important to make sure you subject your barbecue to regular routine checks, especially now that the BBQ season has been extended. If the BBQ has managed to go on hiatus it is extremely important it has a proper check to ensure it’s safe.
The secret to making the annual BBQ clean easier is to clean it with every use. Clean the plates and apply a coat of natural food oil on the cast iron parts to help protect them from rust. Eventually all of those burnt on fats and oil are going to have to come off.
It is much easier cleaning a barbecue that is warm than cold so the every use clean could best be done after use, before it cools down – if you can drag yourself away from the food and the company.
For the annual deep clean turn the barbecue on for a little while to warm up before turning it off, shutting off and disconnecting the gas, and dismantling the barbecue completely. Now you are ready to wash it – one piece at a time.
Place grill plates on spread out newspaper and scrape them clean with a specially shaped grill scraper.
Another great way to get grill plates clean is to buy a grill stone, this is a man made stone block which is soft enough to grind down to the shape of the grill at the same time as removing all the grease and burnt on food. The best thing is that this will customise to the shape of YOUR grill.
Spray a light coating of food oil on the plates before scrubbing them with a mixture of warm soapy water and white vinegar to remove any remaining residue. Be sure that all of this mixture is properly removed when scrubbing is complete and leave plates to dry.
The dry plates require another spray of cooking oil which you should then spread with paper towel or a cloth.
If your BBQ is fitted with ceramic flame tamers or cooking grids these should also be given a good clean. Firstly they need to be soaked in hot soapy water for at least an hour before scrubbing them with a brass wire BBQ brush and warm soapy water.
Stainless Steel trolley and outer casings will also need cleaning, but not with harsh cleaners or abrasives as they will scratch the stainless steel. A mixture of warm soapy water and white vinegar should be sufficient to achieve a bright shiny clean. After which you can buff with cleaning oil, or baby oil, this will make the next clean easier as well as removing watermarks and fingerprints.
An oven cleaner may be required if your barbecue hood and casing is of vitreous enamel, preferably non-toxic, and it may require more than one clean to remove all of the baked on grease depending on how bad it is. The entire hood and casing will require a thorough cleaning and after using the oven cleaner you should be able to use scourers and cloths to remove the rest of the grease.
The next big part of your yearly barbecue overhaul is the rust removal and oil reapplication. Grills and burners of cast iron may have rusted up in the time your barbecue has been out of use. To rectify your rust issues scrape off any flaked rust, give the parts a really good scrub with a wire brush and warm soapy water then once they are dry coat them with cooking oil before they can rust again.
Rust spots on the outer casing can be rubbed back with steel wool and treated with rust converter before touching them up with heat resistant paint.
Re-oiling timber barbecue trolley’s once every year will help keep them looking good and working well. Give the trolley a light sand and then oil them up with an outdoor furniture oil or a specially formulated oil for barbecue trolleys. This will soak through any existing oil stains on the trolley and help protect against the formation of new ones.
If you have a barbecue that has been constructed to use lava rocks, these need to be replaced every year as they become clogged with oil and grease. Sand in the drip tray also requires yearly replacement so empty the sand from the drip tray. Give the tray a wash with warm soapy water and when it’s dry spray it with cooking oil and line with aluminum foil before adding fresh clean sand.
Ok, so you have your barbecue in pieces and it’s all sparkling clean again but that’s not the end of the task just yet. Now for what is probably the most important part – SAFETY checks.
Gas taps can become stiff if your barbecue isn’t used for a while and this can cause plastic controls to break. It is a good idea to remove the plastic knobs and spray a lubricant to help the mechanisms move more freely, WD-40 is good for this. Apply a drop of sewing machine oil to each tap and then cover with Vaseline to keep the oil in.’
Burners not generating a flame would indicate a clogged gas jet (or jets). Remove the burners from inside the barbecue to uncover the gas jets, which are small covered brass nut looking jets with a tiny hole through them. A small spanner will see you remove them with ease. To remove the blockage try pushing it through with a skewer, if the blockage can not be removed the jets are easily replaceable from your local BBQ dealer.
Now it’s time to get you hooked back up and ready to roll, as soon as you’ve checked for gas leaks because they can be costly and dangerous.
Reconnect the gas and then coat all of the connections with a 50/50 mix of dishwashing liquid and water, bubbles will form in the mixture if gas is leaking. If you do have any leaks try tightening the connections or replacing the seals.
Following these simple hints – and they are simple because even I could follow them – and you will extend the life of your barbecue.
Alternately, you could do what I plan to and just give them to hubby and make him do it.