Cleaning Your BBQ
  1. Keep your BBQ clean and looking great.
  1. We are all a little guilty of being lazy when it comes to cleaning the Barbie. If you have ever opened the lid to find a tray of left over roasting marinade and realized you haven’t been in the back yard for 3 weeks, you’ll know what I mean.
  2. As we grow up and spend a little more money on a BBQ or indeed, start to look at built-in models, some simple tips will not only keep you safe, but also improve the taste of your food Not to mention increasing the life of your BBQ. I have jotted down what I have found to be the quickest, most effective and easiest method for me.
  3. Prior to cooking any meal, you should clean your BBQ. My preferred method is simple. For grills, fire up all the burners on high with the lid down and heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a stainless steel brush, to vigorously scrub the grates. In the case of a hot plate, again heat on high for 15 to 20 minutes, then drop on a few cubes of ice. Scrape the plate clean with a stainless steel putty knife (preferably one that doesn’t have left-over putty on it). Using stainless steel equipment to clean the cooking surface is preferred, as anything else may leave traces of metal that bonds to your cooking surface and eventually forms rust spots. Remember no matter whether you have stainless steel or cast grates, a BBQ will look black very quickly. Don’t worry, this is actually what you want. You will never meet any chef that tells you, they would prefer to cook their gourmet steak’s on a pristine, new grate. The blackening is part of the seasoning process and adds flavor. Pre-heating the grates will kill any bacteria that may be present.
  4. You should regularly check the grease drip tray and keep it clean. Failure to do this simple chore, may lead to a flair-up that is potentially quite dangerous. Apart from the safety issue and unlike blackened grates, heating stale oils left in the tray will lead to some pretty weird tastes wafting through your food. Keep a relatively clean layer of absorbent material in the tray like sand, kitty litter or purpose made grease absorbents available from BBQ stores. A layer of tin foil under the absorbent will make it easier to clean. Look to clean your tray every month or so, depending on how much you BBQ.
  5. Once or twice a year, you should give your beloved BBQ a full service. I do not recommend using detergents or degreasing chemicals. Nor would I recommend spraying with the garden hose and definitely do not use a pressure cleaner. Detergents and degreasing agents will not remove ‘all’ the grease, but will end up leaving a residue that will affect the taste of your food.
  6. Hose or pressure cleaning may in-fact compact the oils and will end up leaving you in more of a mess, than when you started. They may also force oils into the burner ports that could block your gas flows and therefore the BBQ’s performance.
  7. My preferred yearly service involves heating the BBQ for a short period to ‘soften’ the built up oils and grease. You then dismantle and take out all the individual parts. It is not recommended to remove the burners as failure to put them back correctly is a definite safety issue. Once everything is out, grab your trusty putty scrapper and get to it. you will want to scrape off all the built-up grease and oils. Try to get into every nook and cranny and feel free to get rough with it. At this stage I also inspect the burner ports. (the small holes that run along the burners) You will often get grease that congeals into these ports and that creates ‘black spots’ where the flames do not appear. I find a metal skewer the best to attack these holes. Try to scrape ‘out’ any grease blocking the holes rather than pushing it into the burner. If you are unsure if one is properly clean, turn the burner on and you can quickly see if there are any blocked ports, as there will be no flame.
  8. If my wife is not home, I put my grates in the dishwasher and run it on a pot cycle, using about half the recommended amount of dishwashing powder. If she is home, I will give them a good going over, in the laundry sink with dishwashing liquid and steel wool. I know this contradicts what I have mentioned above about using detergents, however you can be fairly certain that you will be able to remove any and all detergent residual in the dishwasher or laundry tub, using hot water. Anyway, the point is to not clean the black off them, but merely to remove any excess grease and oil.
  9. When you are happy all is clean, reassemble everything and then fire up all the burners on high. Close the lid and allow to heat up for about 30 minutes. This will have the effect of carbonizing any remaining clumps of grease and you are good to go for another season.
  10. The BBQ Hood
  11. As I am seeing a huge increase in the installation of ventilation units, I think it is important to quickly touch on this aspect. Indeed, like indoor kitchens the most neglected of all cooking equipment when it comes to cleaning, is the hood. They are designed to move air. This air movement creates the vacuum that sucks the smoke filled air away from the party. Commercial units aside, they usually run this air through a filter or baffle system prior to ducting it outside. BBQ’s throw off an awful lot of grease filled smoke that quickly adheres to the filters. Like a bagged vacuum system, when the bag is full, you lose suction. Too many times, I have seen hood filters that are rarely if ever, cleaned. Realistically you want to clean the filters every 10 BBQ’s or so. Most modern hoods have dishwasher safe filters and so it is really no hassle to do. Failing to clean these filters leads to a smoke filled Alfresco area with stained and damaged ceilings. More importantly, the excessive grease in your filters is a major fire hazard and you can just imagine what can happen if it ignited.
  12. Having said all that, some regular stainless steel polish and a quick wipe over, will make your gear sparkle…
  13. Oh – and don’t forget to check that all your cooking utensils are clean before you start cooking.
Australian Outdoor Kitchens