10 smart ways to improve your outdoor cooking experience

Summertime, the time for barbecues and outdoor living. Here are twenty tips to help you really enjoy to the full cooking outdoors

1. When cooking outdoors you have to make a choice, gas or charcoal? Chose gas if prefer cleanliness, control & convenience and charcoal if you love those wonderful flavors that seep into your food that come from the smoke. But remember, if charcoal is your choice never use lighter fuels, start the fire naturally or you’ll taste ugly chemical smells,regardless of how long you wait before starting cooking!

2. Consider carefully whether your outdoor cooking equipment purchase is going to be an investment Don’t go cheap! Go for quality, it pays every time in both the short and long term.

3. Stoves and outdoor burners are measured in terms of their output or BTU. Make sure the one you buy is well suited to what you’ll be cooking; too small a burner and you’ll never be able to heat up those large stockpots; too large a burner and you’ll be wasting your money when smaller would have done just as well.

3. Chose your size of burner or stove by first thinking about what and how you’re going to be cooking in the future. Look for the the BTU rating, the larger the rating the greater the power and the larger the stockpot you can cook with. Beware if you go too small and want to deep fry or boil with larger stockpots.

5. Think about ‘where’ you’re going to be cooking outdoors and buy your kit accordingly. Ask yourself, will we be cooking on the patio, or taking it outback, or wherever; this makes a big difference to your choice; indeed usually folk decide that they need quite separate cooking equipment for different situations.

6. Your choice of outdoor cooking kit should be guided by what style of cooking best suits you and your family. If Jambalaya is your passion then get a Jambalaya pot; if your going to be frying turkeys get a turkey fryer kit; don’t try and mix and match, go for what suits best.

7. If cooking using propane ensure that you have a second gas cylinder; what is worse than a meal half ready and the gas goes out!

8. When cooking outdoors keep in mind basic safety & hygiene advice. Ensure fresh meat and your cooking utensils are kept away from plates you’ll be eating off; avoid using large stockpots on stoves with extended legs; keep large stock pots on burners near the ground or table top; and before starting cooking plan what you’ll be doing; its when you’re rushed that mistakes are made;

9. Share your recipes & cooking tips and people will share their’s with you. When cooking, never pierce food on a BBQ or the juices will run out and it will dry out; never cook meat too long as again it dries out; ceramic grills are great for retaining moisture and flavor; always make sure that meat is fully defrosted before cooking; generally speaking, try to cook slower rather than faster when cooking outdoors, except with steaks of course; always let your meat rest after cooking without cutting it up, so allowing the juices to settle and the full flavor to come out; try marinating your meats before barbecuing, and remember, the longer the better, overnight if you can.

9. Share cooking tips & recipes and your friends will share their’s in return. When barbecuing, never pierce food as the juices will run out and it will start to dry out; ceramic grills are great buy as they are superb at retaining moisture & flavor; cook meat only when it is fully defrosted; generally speaking, cook more slower rather than faster when cooking outdoors, [except with steaks]; try to let meat rest after cooking without cutting it up. This allows the juices to settle and the full flavor to mature; try marinating your fish & meats before barbecuing, one hour is fine for fish but ideally overnight in the refrigerator for meat.

10. Open the lid of your grill when grilling as little as possible; this retains a consistent temperature within and ideal cooking conditions.

Stephen Kember is a acknowledged expert in outdoor living & cooking. He now runs The Outdoor Cooking Equipment Store where you can view a wide range of Outdoor Cooking Equipment. Have a look at some of the superb value kits, such as the turkey fryer kits, where for a very limited period prices have been drastically cut.


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