Are you ready to Q? – Newbies guide to BBQ’ing by Sue Stoneman

Yipee! The better weather has at long last arrived. The warmer, sunnier days and the longer, lighter evenings are here so it can only mean one thing – it’s BBQ time!

BBQ season has definitely arrived for some, but for me and many others, we BBQ all year round. I’ve noticed my neighbours doing the first cut of their lawns and doing a bit of tidying in the garden. It’s time to dust off your BBQ so you are ready to ignite your fire when the desire to cook up a feast over coals or wood flickers over you.


I’ve put together a few tips to help you get ‘BBQ ready’.


Dust off your BBQ and give it a good clean. Maybe you closed the lid after your last cook at the end of the year without cleaning the grill and it’s got some green furry stuff growing on it? Or perhaps you left it outside and it’s taken a bit of a bashing of the wintery weather? Empty out any unused charcoal and put this on your flower beds – it’s good for the plants. Grab yourself a bowl of hot soapy water, rubber gloves, a nylon scourer, a cloth and give it a good clean.


Yes it’s a dirty job and someone has to do it. If you have a stainless steel grill, it can go in the dishwasher. (Don’t tell Mr S but I occasionally put the whole of my stainless steel table top BBQ in the dishwasher! It comes out lovely and clean!) Remember to dig out all your BBQ tools, pots and pans and give them a wash too. Make sure your heat proof gloves haven’t been nibbled by mice!



Check out your charcoal and or wood supplies. Wood will have been nicely seasoning over the winter. Place your order if you buy in truck loads or you can pick bags at most good Farm Shops and Garden Centres. You can by different species of wood from on-line suppliers. These will give off different flavours. Experiment with different types for different foods. If you have time, it’s worth chopping the larger pieces as they will be easier to light. Make some into kindling or pick up a bag when you are out from your local garage or shop.


Charcoal is available at most Garden Centres. You might be able to get hold of locally produced Charcoal which has less air miles and much kinder to the planet. We are fortunate in Devon where we can get hold of Exeter Charcoal, Devon Charcoal and also Charcoal from East Devon Nature Reserve. You can usually pick this up at Darts Farm and Greendale Farm Shop. This type of charcoal lights easily, gives off little smoke and lovely aromas.



When cooking food, it’s best to use organic firelighters so no nasty smells transfer into your food. You can also get electric lighters or gas filled which also blow air and are useful to get the fire going. You could use a blow torch. Add these to your shopping list.  How are you off for matches?  Long matches help prevent any finger burns.



If you are going to the beach, forest, moors or camping, (after checking BBQs are permitted) you could pick up a disposable BBQ if your home BBQ is too big and heavy to transport. There are some fully biodegradable available which don’t give off any nasty smells and which are quick to light.


Visit your local butcher and fill the freezer with sausages, minced beef (try making your own burgers with pork or turkey mince), chicken thighs, legs and wings which tend to be the most popular BBQ foods, not forgetting a visit to the fish monger. Fish cooks very quickly on the BBQ. Don’t forget to stock up with drink and put that in the fridge.



If you are going to be eating outside, give your tables and chairs a clean. Give your chimenea or fire pit a bit of TLC too.



All you need now is the dry weather, light up, invite your friends, cook, eat, enjoy and have fun. Happy BBQing!

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