Traditionally, Labour weekend, this year falling 23-25th October, is the time we bring out the barbecue, clean away the cobwebs and other life that has hunkered down inside it over winter, and light the gas, but now that Daylight saving kicks off earlier, and especially since the government has just approved backyard get-togethers of two ‘bubbles’ at a time in Level 3, it’s time to clean up the barbie and get cooking (restrictions apply).
If what greets you is last year’s burnt remains, you better get scrubbing. I’ve got great tips for PREVENTING the build up of unwanted gunk and black charry bits. Keep the barbecue clean as you go along and you’ll be more inclined to use it as a great tool to enjoy life over the summer months. Here’s the easy chemical-free method to keeping your barbecue clean.
It’s much easier to clean a gas grill and hot plate (griddle) while they are still hot. The easiest way I know is to use water – not chemical cleaners.
Cleaning a hot plate (griddle)
To clean a hot plate, splash a cup of water onto the plate immediately after cooking, while the hot plate is very hot, then scrape it clean with a scraper. The water quickly heats and bubbles and helps lift off gunk as it evaporates. Dry off the hot plate with a piece of towel kept for the purpose or paper towels. Even burnt sugar or stuck-on gunk will come off this way.
This is a great way to re-purpose old or frayed towels or tea towels. Cut them into squares and store on a shelf in the barbecue (that’s if you have one of those stainless steel monsters with drawers), or somewhere dry, then they’re ready when barbecue season comes round (they eventually become oily and a bit gross and need to be throw out, but you’ve extracted all the life out of them).
Cleaning a grill rack
To clean grill racks you need 2-3 paper towels dunked in a cup of water and long-handled tongs. The grill racks need to be very hot (leave the gas on if you think part of the racks are not super-hot). Pass wet paper towels over the grill racks, rubbing off gunk, wetting the paper towels if they become dry, until the racks are clean. Turn off the gas.
Try cleaning a cold barbecue hot plate or grill this way and it will be a non-event. If you don’t want to clean the barbecue immediately after cooking – perhaps you’ve got guests standing around, or food you want to serve immediately – you’ll need to reheat the barbecue later on to do the job. That’s a waste of gas (energy). If you get into the habit of doing it immediately after cooking – and it takes all of 1-2 minutes – you will make use of the residual heat of the barbecue and by keeping it clean you will prevent black carcinogenic gunk building up and your food (and your health) will be better for it. Simply have a cup of water, tongs, paper at the ready so it is a fast clean-up at the end of cooking. The minute you think that you’ll have to go inside for water, paper towels … is the minute you’ll decide to do it later. I speak from experience (lift up the barbecue lid, oh-oh, dirty and gunky because I FORGOT TO CLEAN IT!)
Charcoal grills and hot plates should be left until they are cold before being emptied. Ashes should be completely cold before you dispose of them.
You can’t clean the grill or hot plate on a charcoal barbecue in the same way you can on a gas barbecue. The best option is to soak them in very hot sudsy water for 15 minutes, then, rubber gloves on, employ elbow grease (muscle!) and scrub away with wire wool or similar.