Buying and Maintaining Your Grill
Planning the perfect barbecue season is all about the choices you make. New homeowners and people just getting started often have questions like: What kind of grill should I buy? Should I use charcoal or gas? Do I want something that has more than one tier of grates? Do I want a side burner? The choices are many when choosing the perfect grill. Ask around and take your own personal tastes into consideration.
Once you have your grill, you have to keep it properly maintained. This is something that most people overlook and their grill has a shorter life as a result. Maintaining your grill is the first step to getting the best performance out of it.
Clean Your Grill: Be sure to keep it clean. Every time you use it you should heat it up and brush the grates with a stiff brush. Be sure to get it as clean as possible so the food does not take on other flavors you did not intend to have. There are grill brushes made just for this to make sure the bristles do not melt.
If you have a side burner, be sure to clean the element and inspect all of the hoses that run to it. This is a part of the grill that gets overlooked because the food is not placed directly on it. Be sure that there are no twigs or leaves inside, and that it is sturdy.
Clean the Grease Pan: Remove the grease pan periodically to scrape and clean it is important for a few different reasons. It is unsanitary, you wouldn’t want your indoor stove to look like that, don’t let your grill get too bogged down by grease and food pieces. It is also a fire hazard for the same reason. The amount of time between cleanings depends on how often you use your grill.
Check the Fire Element: (Gas grills only.) Make sure that the element is always free of any debris and is not clogged. If your grill goes a long time without being used, always remove all debris from the inside and outside of the grill. Give it a good cleaning when you are ready to start using it again. Do not let it get too cold during the winter months.
Protect Your Grill from the Elements: If at all possible store your grill inside to protect it from the snow and ice. If it needs to stay outside, put a cover over it and when you shovel the walk also clear off the top of the grill. If you live near the ocean be cure to clean your grill more often than most because the salty air can cause rust and erosion. Always use a cover on your grill, no matter where you live or how often you barbecue. Rust and dirt are not good for the grill’s looks and it can decrease the life span of your investment.
Before Cooking: When you are ready to cook on the grill, there are some things that are important to do other than the regular cleaning. Condition your grates with spray cooking oil. It is better when this is done on a cold grill because you do not want the oil to burn off immediately, or the fire to track the can and burn you. Some people like to clean the grill immediately after use. Some people choose to do so before they use it the next time.
It is often easiest to brush all of the food off immediately after you are finished cooking and the grill has cooled. Take the time to condition the grates then. Most people do not take the time to do this, but it is worth it in the long run. You are also not wasting gas, charcoal, or your other fuel to heat the grill up so you can clean it.
Seasoning Your Grill: Lastly, you can season your grill if you so choose. First you need to clean the grate completely, and remove it from the grill. Be sure to use soap and water, we are not talking about heating it up and brushing it off. Rub the clean and dry grate with a paper towel coated with lots of vegetable oil. Once the grate is totally coated, place it in the grill and turn up the heat. You want to get it to about four hundred degrees. You are baking the oil onto the metal of the grate, protecting it. You will need to repeat this four times to be sure the oil is completely baked in. You should do this at least once a year. With a well seasoned grate, food will not stick as readily and you’ll be able to remove any residue with practically no effort.