With great barbecue comes great responsibility. No one likes a roasted red pepper tasting of propane, or a sirloin steak seasoned with burnt goo from last week’s wings. Unknowingly serving food from a barbecue inhabited by the backyard squirrel? The horror! To prevent such disasters from falling upon you and your burgers, we talked to our BBQ Pros about proper care for the beloved backyard barbecue.
1. Clean the grill after each use to prevent grease and carbon build up.
Grease eats away at the metal and acids, and deteriorates metal in the appliance. And, carbon isn’t healthy to eat. In recent years, a growing body of research claims that cooking meat over a flame increases our exposure to carcinogens. The best way to clean a barbecue after each use is to burn off food and grease residue. Turn the heat on high for 15 minutes, and wait until the grill stops smoking. By turning the remaining particles into ash, the grill can easily be cleaned with a brush. This eliminates the risk of brush wires sticking to the grill and getting into food, and prevents rodents from coming in and eating the residuals. We don’t recommend using chemical cleaning products marketed specifically for barbecues. The chemical residue left behind will affect the taste and cleanliness of food during the next few grills.
2. Use the right brush.
Buy a brush suitable for the barbecue type, or you run the risk of scratching the grill, which can result in rust and leaching. Use a gold wire brush for cast iron grills and a stainless steel brush for stainless steel, ceramic coated, or enameled grills. And, watch out for super thick bbq sauce, which easily scoops up brush threads.
3. Get your barbecue professionally serviced every year.
Normal wear and tear of inner BBQ components can result in food contamination, a gassy or greasy taste, and unevenly cooked food. BBQ Service Pros disassemble the barbecue, using specialized power tools to clean each component. They also check for safety and maintenance issues. Since the barbecue is exposed to outdoor elements, common issues include damaged hoses from rodents chewing through them, and burner tubes clogged by spider webs, which result in gas build ups. Our pros have recounted numerous instances where they found animals like squirrels and raccoons living in household barbecues. Rodents, of course, can seriously contaminate food.
The moral of the appliance story is the always same (see our posts on oven and dishwasher care). Clean, well maintained appliances result in increased lifespan, effectiveness, safety, energy efficiency, and less cash spent in the long run.