Ownership of gas barbecues has soared to an estimated 1.5 million households, adding fuel to the fire that has become the great charcoal versus gas debate.
Cynics and the charcoal faithful claim that the flavour of the food is not the same when cooked on a gas barbecue. However this way of thinking is slowly being dispelled as converts realise for themselves that the lovely barbecue flavour stems from food juices hitting a hot surface and it doesn’t matter whether the surface is lava rock or traditional charcoal.
Real foodies are also increasingly choosing to cook with gas because of the versatility it offers. Combined with the latest in barbecue technology, such as side burners for sauces, it truly provides countless opportunities to impress.
More sophisticated barbecues are even fitted with griddle plates, fast heating rings (for delicious potato dishes), plate supports to keep food warm and a hood or battery operated rotisserie for roasting meats.
The charcoal camp might argue that part of the fun of alfresco dining is the blood, sweat and tears that go into lighting the charcoal and achieving the right temperature for cooking. However, gas is quick and easy to set up, saving time for you to get on and enjoy your barbecue more quickly with a glass of wine, so personal choice on this argument prevails.
In this time precious era the quicker the food can be prepped, cooked and cleaned up the better, particularly if you are entertaining or decide to barbecue on the spur of the moment. And as the market is growing, higher specification models are now available offering more convenience and controllable heat – fast.
Gas barbecues are easier to clean too as most models have drip trays as standard to collect the fats and mess generated by cooking, and the barbecue can be cleaned simply by leaving the barbecue on for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off any juices.
If it is an issue both gas and charcoal barbecues are available at a range of prices depending on your needs. However other costs to bear in mind is the cost of your fuel. The overall cost of gas can be a more cost-effective way of running a barbecue with one cylinder providing enough fuel run for up to 8 hours at maximum setting.