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OK, It’s Winter… Let’s Barbecue!!

For the true barbecue enthusiast, cold weather should be no deterrent. Summer is only three months of the year, and for me 9 months is way too long to go without some barbecue. Right now it’s bucketing down with rain and I’m preparing for a long overdue Sunday barbecue.

Although it’s colder outside during the winter months the lower temperatures are not a major issue. The main thing to be aware for winter barbecuing is to use more fuel than you would on a summer’s day. As the ambient temperature is lower, you will be losing more heat to the outside of your barbecue, and so you’ll need more fuel to cook a given amount of food than you normally would need on a warmer day.

I haven’t found a light rain to be a major inconvenience when cooking in a kettle style barbecue, which may come as a surprise. The lid of the kettle acts as an umbrella and keeps the rain off the coals, although as the rain gets heavier, it can come in the top vent and flood your barbecue.

In my experience, I have found that the biggest problem when cooking barbecue during colder weather has been the wind as it affects your temperature control, which is probably one of the most important aspects of barbecuing.

Firstly the wind tends to carry away heat from your barbecue and dramatically increase the cooking times required for cooking your food. The other way is if the wind finds its way into the vents of your cooker, it is blowing on the coals which can make them burn faster, and actually drive up the temperature.

The best remedy for these is to find a sheltered location for your barbecue. I have a spot in my garden near my back door where there is shelter from the rain provided by a balcony and the wall of my house provides protection from the wind.

If the wind isn’t too strong, and you don’t have a sheltered location to cook in then you can usually get away with closing the two windward vents of your barbecue and just rely on using the vent on the downwind side of your barbecue for temperature control.

However, if it’s blowing up a storm then even if you do want to be outside, I will concede that it may not be the best time to be barbecuing. In a storm, the winds may actually be strong enough to tip your barbecue over, and if it’s full of red-hot coals, you don’t want to be near it when it happens.

Some people may be tempted to cook in their garage or another indoor area, but this is not really a very good idea as there is a very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning when you are cooking with coals in an enclosed space.

Also make sure that your barbecue is at least 3-4 metres away from any combustible material, as strong winds can blow sparks from the barbecue and set them alight.

If you follow these guidelines, then there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the pleasures of barbecue all year round. As the weather is getting colder, the idea of a nice roast sounds like just the thing for a Sunday lunch with a few friends, and a roast always tastes best to me when it’s been cooked on a barbecue over some smoking hot coals.

Enjoy yourself…’Friendly Fire’