BARBECUES – TOP 10 FAQ’S
1. What type of gas bottle do I need?
There are two types of gas bottle – one is butane (usually blue in colour) the other is propane (usually red or green in colour). The majority of gas barbecues now use propane. Your barbecue should be fitted with either a red regulator (propane) or a blue regulator (butane). The regulator fitted to your barbecue should be a ‘clip-on’ regulator which connects easily and safely to the gas bottle. If your barbecue has not got a regulator fitted then call 0800 662 663 for your nearest Calor Gas stockist who will be able to supply you with the regulator and a the appropriate gas bottle.
All Landmann Barbecues are fitted with a 27mm clip on propane regulator, for these you will need a propane gas bottle. A ‘Patio Gas’ bottle is available in either 5Kg propane or 13Kg propane sizes from Calor Gas, these are green bottles with a red top.
2. Where can I get a gas bottle?
There are several different suppliers of gas bottles, the largest being Calor Gas (Patio Gas), BP (Gas Lite) and Flo-Gas (Leisure Gas). There are over 2,000 retailers of gas bottles in the UK. All of the major DIY chains retail gas bottles as do most independent garage forecourts and garden centres. However, if you have trouble finding a stockist you can call Calor Gas Direct on 0800 662 663 which provide a nationwide home delivery service.
3. Why does my barbecue keeping flaring up?
First of all it's important that you understand that flare-ups are not as big a problem as you might think. Controlled flare-ups are okay, it's when the fire gets out of control that you have a problem. There are several ways to deal with flare-ups and a spray bottle full of water isn't the best way.
First of all you need to plan on flare-ups and prepare for them. The first step is to reduce the risk of a flare-up by trimming any and all unnecessary fat from the foods you grill. For the sake of flavor, meats should be left with a little fat on them. This prevents meat from drying out while grilling. Fat just doesn’t mean fat on the meat but any fat you have added like oils in marinades or sauces. Marinades should be allowed to sink in and marinated meat should be dripping in oil when it hits the grill.
It is always important to remember to clean your barbecue after use. You can do this in one of two ways. Firstly, for gas barbecues, the easiest method is to ‘burn off’ the excess fat by turning up all the burners to maximum heat (close the lid / hood if you have one) and leave for 10 – 15 minutes. The second method, which is the best way to prevent flare ups, is to use a wire brush and thoroughly clean the cooking grates and vaporizer / flavoriser bars. This also should extend the life and use of your barbecue.
4. My gas barbecue won’t ignite, what shall I do?
Firstly, ALWAYS ensure that the barbecue hood / lid is up to prevent a gas build up. NEVER attempt to light your gas barbecue with the hood / lid down.
There are two types of ignition, one is piezo the other is electronic. The piezo ignition system is the most common but can overtime malfunction due to exposure to the elements, that’s why it is recommended that you always use a barbecue cover to reduce the effects of weathering. The electronic system uses a small battery which again after time will need replacing. If in doubt please refer to the barbecue instruction manual for further advice.
5. Can I use charcoal in my gas barbecue?
No, gas barbecues are designed to handle the heat created by burners and not the heat created by burning charcoal. Aside from the fact that you would be filling your gas barbecue with ash and quite likely have hot burning coals falling out of your barbecue the heat from burning charcoal can be very damaging to components of a gas barbecue. Throw charcoal in a gas barbecue and you will probably end up having to replace several parts, if not the entire barbecue itself.
If your grill is having trouble reaching a good temperature then there is probably something wrong with it. You should look into repairing your grill and not try boosting the heat with charcoal.
6. Why does my barbecue have mould or rust on it?
The biggest reason is the cover, they are designed to protect from the rain, wind and generally bad weather, however with protection can come trouble. Most barbecue covers are constructed with a special barrier on the inside layer, this can get damp with condensation, then if a warmer spell comes along that condensation can transfer to the parts of the barbecue and caused mould to start growing or worse still corrosion, this can also happen all over other parts of the grill and inside on the cooking surfaces, however it can be cleaned easily with soapy water and the grills fired up to clean the internal cooking area. Unfortunately if the surfaces get damp and are not dried quickly this can cause the bbq to stain permanently, whilst this will not immediately affect the workings of the barbecue, it will over time weaken and cause the bbq to corrode faster and short term look worse.
To help reduce this try to air the barbecue on good days, and during bad weather keep the cover on tight, once the weather has eased up and is dry you can loosen the cover to help airflow back in to eliminate any internal damp (We would recommend you remove the cover and dry of any condensation on the barbecue and inside of the cover before replacing).
7. Can I add lava rocks to my gas barbecue if it didn’t come with them?
Gas barbecues are designed with a certain configuration in mind. The burner layout has to work with the shape and size of the barbecue as well as the ‘vaporization barrier or flavoriser bar’ that sits between the burners and the cooking grate. Changing this configuration can not only reduce the evenness of the heat generated by the barbecue but can cause problems with the burners over time.
The ‘vaporization barrier’ is that metal cover that sits over the burners. It protects the burners by getting hot and causing fat / juice drippings to burn or vaporize. This keeps the burners from getting coated in corrosive grease, getting clogged and simply failing to work. The vaporization barrier also helps distribute heat. In the past most all gas barbecues had either lava rocks or ceramic briquettes.
Today most gas barbecues have some kind of metal plate that distributes the heat and burns or at least channels grease away though there are still barbecues made with ceramic briquettes. Whether this is truly a better method remains to be seen. A heavy metal plate can hold and distribute heat better than lava rocks, but of course metal has a nasty habit of rusting.
We recommend you leave your barbecue the way it was designed. If it didn’t come with lava rocks or ceramic briquettes then don’t try adding them.
8. Which cooking grate material if best? Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, Porcelain, or steel?
The cooking surface of your barbecue is one of the most important parts. The material used should be strong and resilient. It should provide good heat transfer and not be sticky. It doesn't necessarily need to be a non-stick surface as in Teflon but food shouldn't stick any more than necessary.
Most gas barbecues have either cast iron, porcelain coated cast iron, stainless steel, porcelain coated steel or just plan steel. The intense heat of the barbecue can wear down these metals. It is important to keep you the grate clean and in the case of bare cast iron to keep it oiled.
Plain steel tends to lose its temper and start developing chips which makes the surface rough and uneven. This leads to sticking. The plain rod type grate is bad so stay away from it. Stainless steel can also lose much of its non-stick abilities and get chipped up but not nearly as fast as the plain steel units. Stainless steel will work well for a long time, but not as long as cast iron or porcelain coated surfaces. Porcelain on the other hand has a nasty habit of chipping away and exposing the metal underneath to moisture and can cause rust, especially in porcelain coated cast iron. This isn't to say that porcelain coatings can be bad, but cheap porcelain coatings can be. If you have a porcelain coated cooking grate do not use hard metal scrapers and tools. A metal bristle brush is recommended, but no scrapers.
The best cooking grates are heavy bare cast iron. The surface not only gets hot, but holds a lot of heat. It gives good grill marks and helps get food cooking faster. Of course a bare cast iron cooking grate needs to be taken care of. This means keeping it clean and making sure that it is well oiled over the entire surface. During grilling grease and fats will build up on the surface of the grate and this works to help protect the grate, but you don't grill on every single square inch of the grate so you need to take them out frequently and make sure there is no rust and that they are well oiled. One of the problems a grill presents to cast iron parts is that the intense heat causes grease to vaporize and therefore burn away. Just because you grill fatty burgers all the time doesn't mean that you've got enough oil in the right places.
A good, heavy cast iron grate should last for decades if you take care of it. If you simply are not willing to do the work, go for a high quality porcelain coated cast iron cooking grate. You get the heat characteristics of cast iron in a rust resistant surface. When you buy your cooking grate though, get a good barbecue cleaning brush that won't chip the porcelain.
9. What is the best way to light charcoal?
First of all the best way to light charcoal is not to use any kind of charcoal that is self-lighting, or has an additive to make it start without lighter fluid. These additives can leave behind a bad taste that you certainly don't want. Charcoal should be clean and produce virtually no smoke when fully lit.
While you might find it easier to use lighter fluid, it too can add a bad flavor to foods. If you do use lighter fluids you need to make sure you leave plenty of time for all that to burn off. To properly use lighter fluid make sure that all your charcoal is in a nice neat pile and not scattered around the barbecue. Pour a generous amount of lighter fluid over the entire pile, making sure that each piece of charcoal has fluid on it. Allow no more time between putting the fluid on the coals than it takes to close the lighter fluid can and put it away safely before you light the pile.
It is actually best to use a piece of newspaper to light the pile with. You want plenty of flame to get the pile burning as quickly and completely as possible. Remember, never add lighter fluid again. Even warm coals will cause lighter fluid to vaporize and can cause a nasty explosion.
The best way to light charcoal is without anything more combustible than a few pieces of newspaper. This is done with a Landmann charcoal starter that you can pick up at most any hardware store. A charcoal chimney starter allows you to get a good amount of coals burning completely and quickly without adding anything to the fire that you wouldn't want to add to your food. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to be able to get more coals going while cooking.
10. How many kWh’s should a gas barbecue have?
While the number of kWh’s that a gas barbecue generates contributes to the maximum heat that a gas barbecue can reach it is not the only factor. It is very difficult to determine the heat output of a gas barbecue from just the kWh rating. Size, materials, design all play a role in how much heat you are going to get so don't buy a barbecue simply because it has a high kWh rating. Compare that number to the square cm’s of primary grilling area to get an idea of how well this barbecue might heat.
Remember that the kWh rating for a barbecue is the total amount of heat output by all the burners per hour. This is typically measured not by the actual heat output of a barbecue but by the fuel consumption of the burners. Since propane has a kWh rating of 0.141 kWh per litre a 9 kW gas barbecue would consume 1.3 litres (1.95 litres = 1 Kg) per hour. The higher the kWh the more frequently you will need to refill your gas bottle.
Gas barbecue manufacturers are aware that people tend to look at the kWh rating as a sign of power. They can advertise high numbers for a barbecue that just doesn't get hot and most large barbecues make a big deal of their kWh number. Manufacturers also try to make sure that their barbecue can reach a decent temperature. Of course they all have different opinions as to what that temperature should be. We suggest that you not put too much emphasis on the kWh rating for a barbecue and look instead at the quality of the construction of the barbecue.