Some parts of the UK are forecast to see highs over 30C this week, and the Government has recently relaxed some of the rules on social gatherings. When choosing a barbecue, you can choose either gas, electric or charcoal, with many opting for charcoal. So if you’re planning a socially-distanced barbecue this summer, read on to find out how to light a charcoal barbecue.
Setting up the barbecue
When lighting a charcoal barbecue, the first step is setting up the barbecue.
It is incredibly important to set up the barbecue safely and securely and make sure you have all the right equipment to barbecue, as if a barbecue is not safely set up there is the obvious risk of fire and accidents.
As BBC Good Food explains: “You are making a contained fire, so set up your barbecue in an open space away from fences or trees.
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“Have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby, and keep kids and pets well away.
“Use long-handled tongs and proper barbecue equipment with insulated handles, or you may burn yourself.”
You should also make sure your barbecue is stable before trying to light it.
Make sure the barbecue is sturdy on a flat surface, and its legs aren’t wobbly.
Choose your charcoal
For a charcoal barbecue, it is important you choose the right charcoal for what you intend to barbecue.
You should also try to use sustainable and quality coal, such as coal approved from the Forestry Commission.
An expert from barbecue maker Weber told Good Housekeeping: “Charcoal briquettes are uniform in size and burn at an even temperature for longer periods so they’re perfect if you’re cooking for large crowds or roasting a whole joint of meat.
“Lumpwood charcoal, on the other hand, lights quicker, burns hotter and delivers a subtle smoky flavour.
“You’ll get up to one hour of cooking time from lump wood charcoal so it’s suited to grilling smaller cuts of meat or vegetables that take no longer than 15-20 minutes to cook.”
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Light the barbecue
You could consider using a chimney starter to light charcoal easily.
BBC Good Food explains: “Using one of these tubular starters means you can light charcoal easily with a few sheets of newspaper – the coals will catch and start glowing quickly and easily.
“A chimney also protects the coals (and you) on a windy day. Once the coals are ready, you can safely and easily tip them into the barbecue.”
If you don’t have a chimney, add a layer of charcoal to the bottom of your barbecue.
Add some scrunched up pieces of newspaper or firelighters, and add a bit more coal if you need to.
Light the papers but don’t immediately start barbecuing once it is lit.
You’ll need to leave the barbecue until the coals catch and the flames die down, which should take between 20 to 30 minutes.
The coals should be covered with white-grey ash when you start cooking, if there are still flames your food will likely burn.
The BBC Good Food colour code for coals is as follows:
Black or grey with flames: Not ready yet. Step away, have a beer and relax.
Glowing white-hot with red centres: Ready for direct heat.
Ashy white but still very hot: Ready for indirect heat or cooking in the coals.
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