What with a May Day Bank Holiday and the Spring Bank Holiday, later in the month, summer (or at least the idea of it!) is upon us once again – and that means the beginning of another BBQ season, summertime and the living is easy.
Like many of the good things in life, there are dangers too. Having a successful BBQ not only requires a careful eye on food hygiene but also the risk of accidents – including the type of fire that might lead to an expensive home insurance claim.
The BBQ itself
A piece by Birmingham Live strongly suggests that you avoid buying a cheap BBQ that you only use once and then throw away – they recommend it is much better to spend more, especially if you manage to persuade guests to chip in with some of the costs
Did you know that British charcoal burns hotter than imported brands? Use it for more economical cooking and at the same time support your local ecosystem by using charcoal from neighbouring coppices and woods.
Always position your BBQ on level ground and away from trees, hedges, fences or anything that may catch fire.
If you’re using charcoal, always get it alight with proper starter fuel and never petrol or other highly inflammable liquid.
With gas BBQs, make sure that the grill lights up straight away. If it’s still not caught after the second try, turn it off, leave it for a minute or two, then try again.
BBQs are hot! Keep children, the elderly and animals well away from them.
Keep a water spray and a fire-blanket ready to hand - if it’s a gas BBQ, in the event of fire, turn off the supply and use just the fire blanket.
The BBC’s Good Food pages have a number of do’s and don’ts on the subject of food safety – designed to ensure your BBQ guests don’t regret ever having turned up for the occasion.
All frozen food must be thoroughly thawed before storing in the fridge until you’re ready to put it on the BBQ. Avoid cross-contamination of raw meat or fish and ready to eat foods by frequent hand-washing, separate storage, plates or containers.
Keep food in the fridge until you use it and when it’s outside, keep it in the shade away from direct sunlight.
Don’t start to cook until the BBQ is hot enough and then make sure any meat – especially burgers, sausages, pork and chicken – is cooked throughout by turning it often.
Keep all knives and the utensils you need for the grill securely stored when not in use and regularly wipe them down (together with the areas you’ve used to prep the food) with a disinfected disposable cloth.
The best bit, of course, comes in dreaming up your recipes and then BBQing.
The BBC again has plenty of advice on successful BBQ cooking, together with styles and recipes from top chefs. Country Living goes one step further by offering no fewer than 78 “epic grilling” ideas and, from the same magazine, come 54 desserts to accompany your BBQ that do not need baking.
Enjoy your BBQ!