Let the grilling begin: Holiday traditionally marks onset of barbecue season

Friday, May 22, 2009 ~ Updated 3:08 PM
Before firing up the grills for the first time of the season, which several may do this Memorial Day weekend, people are encouraged to make some preparations, such as checking the hoses. (Michelle Felter/Standard-Democrat)

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Follow your nose this Memorial Day weekend and you'll likely smell some barbecue, as the holiday serves as an unofficial kickoff to the summer grilling season.

And whether someone is getting their grill out for the first time of the year or shopping for a new one, there are some preparations people need to make.

"You clean out the house in the spring, and it's a good idea to keep in tune with that and clean out your grill, too," advised Bill Moore, team leader in the seasonal department at Lowes in Sikeston.

Tim Rodgers, a grilling enthusiast who also sells "Big Green Egg" smokers/grills in the area, agreed. "You also want to make sure all the hoses and gas bottles are in good shape and you don't have any leaks," he said.

Orifices and fuel lines need to be cleared, too, added Moore. "And make sure to check and see if all the connections and nice and tight before igniting the grill," he said.

Running out of propane is a blunder a lot of people experience through the year, said Moore.

"There isn't really any way to gauge how much propane is in the tank, other than lifting it up and feeling how heavy it is," said Moore. "I think it's always a good idea to start the season fresh with a new tank of propane."

Those who use charcoal grills should be sure and stock up on it, said Moore. Also, he suggested purchasing an electric charcoal lighter -- which efficiently starts a fire and also eliminates the need for lighter fluid, Moore said.

While getting out the grills, several also decide its the time to get a new one. Grill sales are on the increase in the past month and the brisk sales typically continue through the summer, said Moore.

Rodgers said he, too, has seek an uptick in business recently. The Big Green Eggs he sells are charcoal cookers that can be used for grilling or smoking. Heat can be adjusted on the cookers, which come in all sorts of sizes. In preparation for the upcoming grilling season, Rodgers said he just got in a new shipment.

The two gave some pointers for people planning to purchase new grills.

"When you are buying a grill, buy what suits your needs," said Rodgers. "If you do a lot of smoking, get one where you can do that. Or if you cook a lot of steaks or things that need high heat, get one that allows that."

Also take into account how much food will typically be cooked on the grill, Moore suggested. ""It all depends on how many burners the individual wants and how much cooking space is needed for the size of the family," he said.

Despite all the preparation, the most important thing, said Rodgers, is to enjoy the grilling experience.

"I like coming up with new things to try," he said. He admitted that he grills year-round, and it's not just steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs, but also vegetables, sausage and more.

"My favorite thing to make is ribs," said Rodgers. "I always try to make them a little better every time."

For him and several of his friends, grilling is also about bragging rights and being the one to create the best flavor.

"It's a social event," he said. "I really just enjoy being outside and grilling."

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