Friday, May 26, 2023

Prepping the Grill

Now that spring has fully sprung in most of the US, people are looking forward to more outdoor activities, one of which is grilling. It's always a good idea to have an alternate method of cooking food, and a small grill is an excellent option. Whether it uses charcoalpropane or gas, a grill is a combination cooktop and oven. While it isn't as easy to regulate temperature with a grill as it is with regular appliances, it can work quite well with some practice.

Ideally, we all prepared our grills for winter storage, by which I mean making sure as much food waste and drippings were cleaned off the grill as possible, the exterior was wiped or washed down, and the cover was securely fastened.

Note: Never put a cover on a hot grill. 
Let it cool completely first.

Unfortunately, due to unexpected circumstances I only did the last one of these for our grill, a small Weber Spirit. This meant I had a bit more work to do this spring.

Author's grill, covered and uncovered

After removing the cover, I gave the exterior and underside of the grill a thorough going-over with the garden hose to remove loose debris before going to work on the interior. My first step was to make sure the grill hadn't become the home of one or more critters; thankfully, all was good there. That's where the good news ended, because the drip tray was frankly disgusting; to get an idea, visualize an unintentional suet feeder. Lots of hot water, dish soap, and elbow grease got it clean. 

I then removed the cook surfaces and heat diverters. Since I'm in the habit of cleaning the cooking grates both before and after each use, they were in relatively good shape. The heat diverters -- upside down V shapes of metal under the cooking grates -- were slightly rusty, but that's actually fairly normal with regular use. Heat diverters will rust and, eventually, will need to be replaced.

Interior with one cooking grate removed, revealing the heat diverters.

The last part of the cleanup was taking a look at the burners themselves. Our grill has two, one across the front and the other at the back. These are simply metal pipes with a row of small holes for the gas, and over time, these apertures will get clogged. The easiest way to clean them is with round toothpicks dipped in vegetable oil. One. Hole. At. A. Time.

Finally it was time for a function test. I turned on the gas and ignited the grill. Fortunately, I had no issues there either.

Note: Propane tank valves twist open in reverse compared to other items, and should be kept closed when not in use.

Our grill has a piezoelectric ignitor. This is a crystal-based system that generates a spark when struck, igniting the propane. Other grills have battery-powered ignitors, and their batteries should be removed at the end of the grilling season and replaced at the start of the new one to reduce the chance of corrosion. Some gas, and all charcoal, grills don't have an ignitor and need to be lit with a fireplace match or grill lighter. Once the grill was lit, I closed the lid and let it run up to temperature. Ours will exceed 500 degrees if I let it go long enough.

I mentioned cleaning the cooking grates before and after each use. Once the grill is hot, I take a piece of scrap cotton or a washcloth, roll it up, and dip it in vegetable oil. I use this to wipe down the grate. Once I'm done cooking, I turn the heat back up, use a grill brush to scrub off any loose particles, then repeat with a fresh piece of cloth and oil. This keeps the grate clean and ready to use, and also seasons the metal slightly to reduces sticking and rust.

Prepped, clean, and ready to grill

Grillers of the world, ignite! You have nothing to lose but your hunger!

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