How to light charcoal and gas BBQs

Winter is finally in our rearview and outdoor social gatherings with small groups are back on the table.

This combination of events can only mean one thing – BBQs are back in a big way.

They’re a perfect way to enjoy a sunny afternoon, but there is a little bit of faff involved when it comes to getting them going.

If you’re looking for a refresher course on how to light your BBQ, look no further…

How to light a BBQ

First off, it’s important you set up your BBQ on stable, even and open ground away from trees or anything flammable hanging close by.

It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher to hand just in case.

When it comes to fuel, chef and TV presenter Simon Rimmer previously advised us: ‘Instant charcoal is covered in chemicals to help it light quickly and stay alight and it’s also unclear when it’s ready to cook on.’

He added: ‘While instant charcoal and lighter fluid might help you get a fire going, they aren’t the best ingredients for having a great barbecue.

‘It’s difficult to tell when they are ready to cook on, and also you’ll be using chemicals that will be infused back into your food.

Once you’ve chosen your charcoal, you’ll need to remove the grill part of the BBQ and make a small pile of, it making sure to leave gaps in the pile.

You’ll want to put something that will catch fire and burn easily in the gaps and/or underneath the pile, such as balled up newspaper, wood shavings or a couple of lighter cubes.

Set light to whatever you’ve chosen, and wait for the flames to first catch on the coals, then die down before beginning to grill – open flames will very likely burn your food.

Patience is key – your BBQ should be ready to cook on in 20-30 minutes when the coals are white and ashy.

Chef and BBQ expert James Peck, founder of Burnt Lemon Chefs, also recommended sterilising your grill, saying: ‘Before you do any cooking, sterilise your grill. Burn it for 15 to 20 minutes, then scrape it down with a brush so it’s clean before you get your meat on it.

‘And take care with safety; wear protective gloves and only use long utensiles so that you don’t put your hands over the flame.

‘Always wash your hands first, and have separate equipment for cooked and raw meats to avoid cross-contamination.

‘If you’re using a disposable BBQ that you can get in most supermarkets, take care with where you place it – never put it directly on a dry surface (such as grass in the park) but opt for placing it on top of bricks.’

How to use a gas BBQ

Lighting a gas BBQ is a bit more straightforward, although the instructions for some models will differ slightly.

First you need to open the lid of your BBQ – this stops gas building up inside, which can make for an explosion hazard.

To switch on the gas, there should be a circular valve on top of your propane tank. Some BBQs also have another valve on them that you’ll need to open too.

Wait a couple of seconds to make sure the gas has made it to the ignition chamber, and set the controller to a setting high enough.

Hit the igniter button, and voila, you should have flames.

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