Look into Your Grill and Learn to Clean It

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grill_cYou can clean your grill body just like you would the car: With mild soap and water. For non- stainless steel bodies, a light coating of vegetable oil or stove black applied with a soft rag will add luster and offer protection to the outside of the castings. Go light on the oil as heavier coatings will have a tendency to build up and appear sticky.


By Barb Randall

When the barbecue season officially began, I was caught with my grill maintenance undone.

Yes, just as we clean the oven and cooktop in the kitchen, we need to clean the outdoor cooking area every once in a while. The poor ol' grill gets our attention only when we are standing it front of it. Once we've taken the food off and given the grill a quick brush to remove the residue, that is the last we think of it until the next episode on the grill.

Let's take a look at the barbecue grill inside and out to ensure its fire safety as well as its peak performance.

You can clean your grill body just like you would the car: With mild soap and water. For non- stainless steel bodies, a light coating of vegetable oil or stove black applied with a soft rag will add luster and offer protection to the outside of the castings. Go light on the oil as heavier coatings will have a tendency to build up and appear sticky.

Coat the inside of the grill when it is new or when it is clean to give it extra protection from food acids.

The acid in food and grease is extremely corrosive and should be periodically cleaned from the grill. Use a putty knife to scrape and remove accumulated grease and vacuum the inside of the grill. If left on for a period of time, these food acids will actually corrode away the bottom of the grill.

The burner is the heart of the barbecue and withstands a great deal of abuse from corrosive food acids, high temperatures and moisture. Most burners will come with a three-year warranty and you can extend that life by cleaning the unit periodically.

To clean, remove the burner and with a wire brush, brush the burner exterior to remove loose corrosion and excessive residue. Clean clogged gas holes with an opened paper clip. Check burner assembly for corrosion damage, paying attention to the seams along the edges near the burner ports. The seams will trap grease and this is where corrosion usually begins. Check for flaked-away openings that cause the burner ports to increase in size and create uneven burning.

If the grill body has excessive rusting or is splitting at the seams or has holes rusted through, it is time to replace the unit.

The radiants are located directly above the burner on the gas grill. These lava rocks or ceramic briquettes have a dual purpose of spreading the heat from the burner uniformly over the cooking surface and vaporizing food drippings to give food its barbecue flavor.

Lava rock is a commonly used and inexpensive radiant. It is very porous; grease can saturate the lava and catch fire, causing extreme "flare-ups" and out-of-control fire situations. Change your lava rocks once a season or when saturated with barbecue drippings.

Other radiants that are used include pumice stone, ceramic briquettes or metal heat distribution plates.

Ceramic briquettes are self cleaning; the heat from the burner flame will bake them clean. Replacement is necessary eventually, as they will weaken and crumble. Their uniform shape and size make for superior heat distribution.

On my barbecue it seems the ignitor or starter button is the first item to go on the blink. These systems are highly dependable and most igniter problems are really burner-related problems or a result of excessive grease and char buildup.

The venturi tubes, which regulate the mix of air and fuel, are just the right size entryway for spiders, which are attracted by the sweet scent of grease. They need to be cleared to keep the system working properly.

Check your gas supply hoses for chew marks. Squirrels and other critters can damage hoses in their search for barbecue drippings. Wipe the hose down occasionally with a little ammonia and water.

Hose leaks, ignitor and venturi tube problems are way out of my league.

Cooking grids can easily be cleaned by covering them with a layer of aluminum foil and heating the grill on high for about 10 minutes. The baked on food will turn to a fine white powder which can be brushed away.

Or, start fresh and just replace the cooking grids.

Glass windows can be cleaned using a mixture of water and ammonia, or a commercial glass cleaner. Never attempt to clean the glass when it is hot, and do not use oven cleaners or cleaners containing lye.

Give your grill a little TLC this weekend and be ready for a summer of carefree, grilled meals.


www.portlandtribune.com

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