BBQing food is a natural activity and should be declared a national pastime for men. Not only does it produce better tasting food in most cases, BBQing also allow more socializing and provides a great excuse to have a small party. Very few people are going to reject being invited to a BBQ, regardless of the food to be prepared or the reason why.
However, as anyone with their own grille knows, regular cooking requires regular cleaning, a BBQ grilles are notorious for building up lots of carbonized residue from old food and sauces burning on the metal. Dried out carbon is the final organic form of what’s left in the heat and pyrolysis process after all the moisture has left a material, and it tends to turn to powder in most cases. However, when the burn process is not complete, the carbon can be rather sticky and stubbornly clings to grille metal.
Metal on Metal
The first step is to use a metal scraper and clear off any of the major carbon residue pieces on a grille. This approach should involve scraping and cleaning every side of the grille as any residue left becomes a trap for more carbon to stick and adhere to with another cooking. Once finished with the scraping, the next step is to break down the finer layer of carbon still present.
Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Grille metal takes an amazing beating with the reheating over time as well as cooking causing scratching, pitting, and small gouges in the ceramic or metal. That allows carbonized residue to get trapped in between. This material is not easy to just scrape out or brush off. It needs to be chemically weakened. A natural way to do this is to use pickle water, yes that same water in a pickle jar that the pickles are kept in. The vinegar and water mixture provides a mild acid that is quite effective at breaking down hard carbon in a few minutes. Granted, there are chemicals cleaners as well, but who wants to put that on the same surface food is going to be cooked on?
Clean the Container Too
With the grille metal finally cleaned and down to the bare surface again the surround cooking cabin of the BBQ needs to be scraped and washed as well. For the most part the residue on the walls and floor is not near as difficult because these areas were not as a hot, so a scraper and metal wire brush should do the job with a bit of elbow grease. Then just wash the area out with a hose and sprayer and let it drain from the bottom of the BBQ.
Prep When Done
After cleaning, the metal grille should be prepped with a light surfacing of cooking oil. It’s alright that this oil might sit for a while. When the grille gets fired up again, the old oil is going to burn right off and leave a sanitized surface under heat. Further, it prevents the metal grille from corroding when not in use. Corrosion can build up in two forms, rust and mold. The rust comes from oxidation of the bare metal with moisture in the air. The mold comes from leftover food bits and carbon still left on the grille. A clean grille prepped with a layover of oil prevents both from setting in and damaging the metal.
A grille cleaning can take a bit of time, but it will definitely prolong the life of a reliable grille and keep your food tasting good with minimal leftover carbon sticking to it. After all, you should be enjoying your food with heat, not burning it.
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