The Manual - Essential Barbecue Guide

Despite our cynicism, it seems the Great British summer is finally here. The past few days have got us in an outdoorsy mood, so with perfectly cooked steaks, ribs and sausages in mind, here's our guide to making the best of your barbecue this summer.

What to do

Invest in a good long-handled tool set and a quality mitt.

Use the lid when cooking or you'll lose that great barbecue taste.

Soak woodchips before putting them on the barbecue for smoking. This will stop them igniting too early and burning.

Use good-quality briquettes for a charcoal barbecue. 'Light-in-the-bag' coals will have fluids and chemicals in them that taint your food.

Experiment with recipes. The more you cook, the more confident you will get.

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What to avoid

Adding your food before the coals are ready. It usually takes about 25 minutes for them to get to the right temperature.

Using too many woodchips. Ultimately it is down to personal preference, in terms of how smoked you like your food, but too many will leave it tasting like an ashtray. Start with a handful of chips.

Overcooked fish is the cardinal sin. Six to eight mins is usually enough for a piece of salmon.

Thinking that because you are barbecuing it should be cheap meat. If it's garbage in, it's garbage out.

Turning your food too much - leave it to cook. The more you turn it the more chances you give it to stick to the grill.

Words by John Cooper managing director of Weber Barbecues