If you’ve left your barbecue on the deck over winter, chances are it’ll be in a bit of a state when you whip off the covers – mould, rust and critters can all make themselves at home over the colder months.
As grimy as it might be, it’s not the end of the world. With a touch of elbow grease, you can usually resurrect your beast and get your outdoor cooking going in an afternoon.
- Check the gas bottle, connections and hose for damage and corrosion.
Also take the time to look for leaks before you fire it up. The best
way to find out is by spraying or painting on a mix of soapy water –
if you see bubbles forming, replace the hose and connections.
- Check the weight of the gas bottle. If it’s light, get it refilled
so you aren’t left short. If you don’t have a refill station nearby,
take advantage of a swap station. It’ll take any old 9kg cylinder as
a swap, so it might be a good time to bring in your old, clapped-out
one and get something fresh.
TIP: Have a full, spare gas bottle tucked away in your garage with your emergency water and food. If your barbecue wheezes out mid-cook, you can quickly swap the new bottle in without needing to dash to the petrol station in your apron. Just remember to swap or refill the empty one when you get a chance.
- Throw out last year’s wire brush and buy a new one. You should do
this every season as the brushes can start dropping bristles – a
major health concern if one ends up in your lamb chop.
- Give the outside a good clean. A warm, soapy solution and a dish
brush and cloth combo should do the trick. Look for any corrosion
that may be eating into the barbecue or trolley, which could make it
unsafe to use or move around.
- Next, open the lid and take out grates and set them to one side. Now
it’s time to give the inside a good scrape down – this will probably
be last season’s congealed grease. It’s not a pretty job but it is
essential – it’ll help prevent fat fires when you start it up.
- Then turn your attention to the burners. Check for cracks – they
might need replacing if they’re damaged in any way as it affects the
evenness of cooking. Brush the burners with wire brush to clear any
debris, which makes sure the flames come out evenly.
- Now clean out the grease trap that should have your latest scrapings
in it, and potentially the remains of the last cook as well. Line the grease tray with tinfoil to make cleaning it less of a chore next time.
- Throw your grill or hotplates back on to the barbecue and fire it up
on high for 20 minutes. Make a quick visual check of the flames
coming out of the burners – they should appear even. If they don’t,
there’s a problem. You might fix it with another brushing, or they
might need replacing.
- After 20 minutes, turn off the barbecue and let it cool before
giving the grills a good clean. It doesn’t need to be surgically
clean, but you can decide what level of cleanliness you’re
- The last step in the process is seasoning the grill. This gives it a
somewhat non-stick surface and helps prevent rust. Grab some cooking
oil (spray is best) and give the grates and hotplates a thin
coating, making sure you get an even coverage. Turn the barbecue
back on high for at least 15 minutes to complete the job.
Now you’re good to go. Remember to check the grease trap and make sure the insides are reasonably clean after every few cooks. That’ll help prevent fat fires.