Finding good quality long barbecue skewers in the UK can be a drag. But you are in the right place to find out more.
BBQ skewers are a sector of the market that cheap Chinese manufacturers and ‘pile em high, sell em cheap’ eBay and Amazon merchants have been all over for some time.
Finding the good stuff at the right price among all the cheap rubbish out there can be hard.
If you want long barbecue skewers, you want stainless steel. Catering grade stainless steel, actually.
Forget all the cheap and nasty mild steel (it rusts), rhodium coated, chrome coated and anything else coated (designed to inhibit rust but eventually flakes off – in your food). You want stainless steel skewers, and only stainless steel.
Now as to what type.
The most abundant are the ones like a stick skewer. They look something like this.
I call these ‘knitting needle skewers’.
The problem with knitting needle skewers is when you try to turn them, the meat stays in the same place and the skewer turns. These therefore, are next to useless. Avoid them.
The type you want are blade skewers. But not any old blade skewer.
These are typical blade skewers.
The problem with wooden handled ones are fourfold. First, where the metal joins the wood they are a germ trap, and second the fitting between the wood and the metal degrades over time and becomes loose. Thirdly, you must wash them by hand taking care not to damage the varnished wood. Lastly, there are only two positions for the skewer – this side or that side. What if you want to cook a little on the sides and turn them halfway? You cant. These are not for serious use.
You need a blade skewer with a twist near the end so they can be located in any position around 360 degrees, like this.
However, you now have two other considerations: Thickness of metal and length.
Because factories in China who churn this stuff out are looking to sell to bulk online sellers cheap, they need to use less metal and make shorter skewers to keep the price down. That means short, thin skewers.
If you seek out long stainless steel skewers, they are out there.
But as above, they are still thin – to save metal, weight and shipping costs. This stuff is manufactured to keep prices low in what is a competitive area. Most sales are online where you cant feel the quality. And that usually means low quality.
The problem with thin skewers is when you fill them up with meat and put them over the barbecue, they sag in the middle so what is in the middle burns and what is each end is under-cooked.
You need thick skewers. With a thick skewer, the skewer heats up and assists in cooking by transmitting heat down the length thus cooking from within as well. This reduces cooking times and makes for juicier meat.
Length is another consideration. What one person calls long another might call medium (ask any woman!).
So how long do you need?
Think of it this way, if they are longer than you need, they are future proof (when you buy a bigger barbie). If they are longer than you need, you can just use enough of the blade that you need, so go long. I recommend 70cm (27″) overall length. Remember, you don’t get to use all of that as some of it is taken up by the twists.
In the UK, many of us use the larger fifty odd centimetre across Weber barbecues. You need a long skewer to get across one of those like this.
Yes, you want to cook above the grill, with the skewer on the edges. Using skewers this way allows you to better control the cooking of the meat, keep them further from the heat source, off the hot grill they might otherwise stick to.
So lets recap what you really need when buying skewers:
- Long enough – say 70cms.
- Thick enough – say 3mm.
- Twist near the handle for partial turning.
- Stainless steel only.
- Preferably not cheap Chinese ones.
So where to look?
You look to where cooking with skewers this way is commonplace: Russia, Scandinavia and eastern Europe.
Look how these guys in Russia cook with skewers.
Those guys know how to barbecue meat! The stuff we get in the UK is just for amateurs and very over-priced compared to what is available out there.
Stuff made in in Russia isn’t what Jeremy Clarkson once said it is: “Made badly by someone who is drunk”. Jezza was being tongue in cheek there, but think about it. China makes every little bit of plastic rubbish you ever had that probably broke.
Russia makes guns, missiles, planes, rocket engines and other manly stuff from metal. To make proper barbecue skewers does not present too much difficulty for them. Russians want to buy skewers that will last a lifetime. And now so can you.
So how about some Russian skewers that tick all the boxes, but are shipped from the UK so no dodgy Ivans to deal with?
Like these for example.
So your food will look like this.
70cms (55cm blade length), 1cm wide, 3mm thick, twists in the right place, no silly wooden handles and made from catering grade stainless steel.
Of the exact type shashlik restaurants across Russia, the Baltics, Sweden and Norway use.
Yes, just the ticket!
Where to buy?
If you want UK Amazon, they are >>here<<.
If you want UK eBay, they are >>here<<.
If you want to pay a bit less and buy directly from the UK importer, go >>here<<.
If you are outside the UK and want to buy in US Dollars, buy >>here<<.
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