Your Barbecue Buying Guide
Tired of unreliable disposable barbecues? With the summer winding down and with excellent barbecue deals to be had, perhaps it’s time to get serious with your outdoor cooking and invest in a brand new barbecue.
HOMYZE has put together an essential guide to buying the right barbecue for getting the most out of the fleeting British summer!
Choosing the right fuel ~ choosing the right barbecue
When it comes to deciding on the right fuel for your barbecue there are two options, charcoal or gas:
The more traditional option, charcoal barbecues are often chosen for the classic barbecue experience of poking coals and glowing hot embers that you simply don’t get with gas.
Charcoal cooking often leaves food with a succulent, smoky taste, due to the slower cooking method that helps the meat retain its moisture. Though compared to gas barbecues, charcoal can often be difficult to light and longer to heat as the embers take time to reach their optimum cooking temperature. This length of time can be problematic, especially with the often unpredictable and quick to turn British weather.
Weber Mastertouch: £269, available at John Lewis
When buying charcoal you’ll often find two types available, lumpwood and briquettes:
- Lumpwood burns at a higher heat than briquettes and is quicker to reach its optimum temperature. It also creates less mess than traditional briquettes.
- While not able to reach the kind of temperatures that lumpwood achieves, briquettes are a better option for parties, due to maintaining a constant cooking heat and their ability to burn for roughly twice as long as lumpwood.
While there are a number of choices with charcoal, it’s best to avoid cheaper, self-lighting charcoals due to their high chemical contents. While they are designed to help your barbecue burn quicker, they ultimately die out just as fast.
More expensive to run than charcoal, gas barbecues do allow you to regulate the cooking temperature and offer an almost immediate start to your cooking.
While the meat may lack the aroma of a charcoal barbecue, there are ways of achieving a smoky taste. A popular method is with a smoker box, simply filled with wood chips and added alongside the food with the lid closed, which creates a similar distinct flavour effect.
Napoleon Triumph 410: £427.49, available at Amazon
Much like charcoal, gas barbecues have two different options when it comes to buying your fuel, butane and propane, with most modern barbecues able to use both depending on their valve sizes. While there is little to separate the two in terms of end product, butane gas does burn at a higher temperature than propane, though propane makes up for this by releasing gas at a higher rate.
When it comes to size you need to ask yourself some key questions, who am I cooking for and what will I be cooking?
If you’re catering for a party, a large gas barbecue is recommended, ideally, a model that offers multiple burners to allow you to cook a variety of foods.
If simply cooking a family meal, use the smallest size available to avoid wasting both fuel and time.
The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is very often true, and barbecues are no exception. From those that rival the functionality of a restaurant kitchen for thousands of pounds, to cheap disposables for loose change, you’ll find a barbecue at just about every price point.
Cheaper barbecues usually lack the variety of features of the larger models and are often not as durable. They do however offer a good introduction to those buying for the first time, or those that rarely cook outdoors.
Gas canisters and charcoal will also add to your barbecuing costs, with gas traditionally being more expensive than coal, but offering a more convenient cooking experience.
Looking after your barbecue
Once you’ve settled on which model to purchase, you’ll want to be keeping it in as good a working order as possible, to help ensure your barbecue sees plenty of lazy British summers.
It’s very unlikely you’ll be using your barbecue much during the long winter months, so proper storage is invaluable. This is where you’ll see the benefits of smaller and portable barbecues, while the larger models can be both difficult to move and store. Moving your barbecue to a dry indoors area such as a shed or garage is recommended, but covering well outdoors to protect from wear and tear will also suffice.
Heavy duty barbecue cover: £14.99, available at Argos
Cleaning your barbecue after every use is important to avoid any unhygienic grease and stain build ups. A number of key rules to follow when undertaking your clean include:
- Cleaning while the barbecue is still relatively warm will help to get rid of any dirt before it hardens and becomes difficult to remove.
- When tackling the grills, it’s best to use a strong brush to ensure all dirt is completely removed.
- Avoid strong chemical cleaners as they often leave a residue that will affect the taste of the food when you next barbecue. Instead, simply use warm soapy water.
- When dealing with a gas model always ensure the barbecue is turned off and safely disconnected before starting your clean.
- Unlike gas barbecues, charcoal should be left to cool down before being cleaned. Remove any remaining lumps of charcoal and discard the ash before cleaning.
Outback 3-1 BBQ Cleaner: £4.99, available at Homebase
Today, barbecues offer all manner of features to make your grilling easier and more convenient.
- A necessary part of any barbecue, grill racks provide a variety of options when it comes to grilling. Stainless steel is perhaps the most durable and easiest to clean, while cast iron racks are best suited for retaining heat.
- As well as providing cover and controlling your barbecues temperature, a decent lid will also allow you to treat your barbecue like an oven if you fancy a change.
- A warming rack is essential when cooking large amounts of food, ensuring it stays nice and warm before being served.
Depending on the barbecue you use, an ash collector or drip tray is also a helpful way of minimising mess during the cooking process.