Firstly, it’s important to point out that in blind taste tests, there is no distinguishable difference between using gas or charcoal as a barbecue fuel. It’s a common misconception that charcoal cooked food tastes more authentic and smoky. However, you can add a smoky taste to your barbecue food by using smoking chips.
Before you decide whether to choose a gas or a charcoal barbecue, you’ll want to think about how and how often you’re going to use your BBQ. Some people prefer more traditional charcoal BBQs because of the ritual of getting their barbecue going which can take 30-45 minutes (for best results use a chimney starter). However, for convenience sake gas barbecues do an equally brilliant job of letting you cook in the great outdoors but without having to wait around to start cooking; they also have the added benefit of easier heat control due to the use of burners which are similar to those found on oven hobs.
When you think of barbecues, it’s probably this more traditional type that springs to mind. Charcoal BBQs use either lumpwood or briquettes to generate an even cooking temperature that then gives your food that mouth-watering, flame-grilled appearance.
These types of barbecues are cheaper than gas-powered ones, and many are portable meaning that you can enjoy them wherever you are – whether it’s in your own garden or while enjoying a day at the beach. However, you’ll have to light them around 30-45 minutes before you start cooking to ensure a high temperature.
Although gas powered BBQs tend to be more expensive than charcoal ones, they make up for it by allowing you to start cooking almost straight away. Many also feature a number of different burners and controls to allow you to adjust the temperature, giving you greater flexibility over the type of food you’re cooking and how long it’ll take to prepare. Some models also come with side burners, warming racks and griddles that let you cook food that would fall through a traditional grill.
The amount of cooking time you’ll get will vary greatly depending on the size of your BBQ whether you cook with the lid up or down and the power level of the burners. If you go for a gas-powered barbecue, don’t forget you’ll need to buy a gas cylinder to power it.
Once cold, remove the grill rack and scrub with a wire brush to remove any residue left from food, then wash with a sponge and soapy water. Periodically clean the rest of the BBQ with oven cleaner to remove any burnt-on deposits. To remove the ashes just use a brush, then you can use this sparingly as a fertiliser since it’s a rich source of potash.
After using your gas BBQ the rack, lid, drip trays and burners should all be cleaned. Turning on your burners for a short amount of time will heat up any residue making it easier to remove. Burners should be cleaned periodically with soapy water – never use oven cleaner for this task because it could damage them.
In order to keep your Barbecue working at its best for years to come, you need to consider how you will store it over the winter months. If you are unable to store it in a shed or garage, you should consider buying a cover to protect it from weather damage.