The air’s getting warmer, the wind crisper, and the early Christmas shoppers are already gobbling up the good present deals. Yep, looks like it’s just about summer.
The quintessential Aussie summer package isn’t complete without a barbeque. Besides being a picturesque piece of Australia in its own right, it’s the perfect focal point to get friends and family around, get some fresh air on a sweltering summer afternoon, or just to spend time with the friends and family.
While a lot of people keep using a BBQ all year around, for those of us who wait till the warm months to fire it up, there’s a little bit of preparation involved to get it ready in time for the first summer steaks.
Check your gas
Before doing anything else, it’s a good idea to check now rather than later for any safety faults that might end up injuring you, or harming your property.
Check your fuel line for any obvious holes or patches that might have sprung up over the cold months. If you’ve used the BBQ in the last month, a cursory look will do, but if it’s been a while you’ll want to be more thorough.
Wash some soapy water along the length of the hose and across the connectors, then turn on the gas to the extent that you’d usually use it for cooking. If the soap in the water starts bubbling and frothing at the connectors (or on the line somewhere), you’re dealing with a leak, and should either tighten up or replace the offending part (if broken) immediately.
Check your gas level
Now’s also a good time to check your overall propane levels, while you’re at it. You can either do a simple lift-and-weigh measure, or go by this tried and tested hack.
- Get some hot water in a large cup or vase.
- Pour it on the top of the tank so that it trickles down.
- Feel where the water stops being warm and suddenly becomes colder to the touch.
The approximate level of coldness is how much propane is left in the tank, as propane takes a lot more than some simple water to get warmed up.
Pick at it
As a final check, get yourself a toothpick or wire cleaner of some kind and clean out the accumulated gunk from your gas tubes and connectors (pipe cleaners can work, but a lot of them are arts-and-crafts versions and tend to break).
Degrease and clean
Now that we know it works, we should make sure that you’ll be able to prepare food on it. Start off by burning on high alone for 3-5 minutes to save yourself some of the trouble of cleaning the grease, then let it cool naturally.
Once it’s cold, remove your plates and scrub in soapy water, then rinse and leave to dry.
While the plates are drying, use a little more soapy water to wash the exterior and dials of the BBQ; quite often people will be using greasy fingers to turn it off or close the hood straight after cooking, and it can build up over time.
At the same time, get a wire brush and scrub your charcoal grills, adding a little hot water to it to displace oil.
Once you’ve done that, and the plates are dried, simply put them back on, apply some oil to the plate like you’re about to cook something, and let the oil seep in on a medium heat for 10-20 minutes.
Now you’re ready to cook!
Fire it up!
Turn on the BBQ and light the flames, then step back for a second until it’s well and truly heated up.
Look at the base and tips of your flame – a flame that’s completely yellow or orange isn’t hot enough, and a completely blue flame is going to end up chargrilling your sausages in a few seconds. Instead, you want a nice blue undertone with yellow and orange tips.
If you aren’t getting this, there’s one of two things you can do. Firstly, it might just be a fluke or a connection issue, so a good first check is to disconnect your tank, tube, and valve from each other (turn them all off first!), then reassemble and check your output again.
If that doesn’t work, odds are you have a bad port. Replacing your burners isn’t a particularly expensive or time consuming job, and your future barbecues will thank you for it.
When you’re not using your BBQ, keep it under a tarp at all times so that you don’t end up having to clean it every single time you want to use it.
You should go through these steps, even with regular use and spot checks of your BBQ, every 6 months or so. Don’t risk your own safety or your equipment breaking down from neglect.
If you use them sparingly, gas bottles tend to live for a very long time. However, anything older than 10 years is a safety hazard and has to be replaced immediately.
Get ready for summer
The holiday season is creeping up upon us so be sure to start early and get your BBQ up and running in time. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be serving up steaks and sausages to your family and guests in no time.