Using a Grill For The First Time? Take These 5 Steps Before You Fire It Up
Ah, the smells and tastes of summertime barbecue. You know that time of year is fast approaching, and we can’t help but get excited because heading outdoors and firing up the grill brings us pure joy. That level of excitement may not be true if you’re new to grilling and aren’t sure where to begin. If you’ve never used an outdoor grill, whether it be gas or charcoal, you should take a few steps before using your grill for the first time to prevent some nasty things from the manufacturing process showing up in your food. Don’t worry; we’ll talk about them!
Follow your grill’s manual for setting up, hooking up to a gas tank or line (if a gas grill), and lighting instructions.
How to Prep a Grill?
Getting your grill ready for summer may seem a bit tedious; however, it is necessary for many reasons, including protecting your grill grates from premature wear and rust, making future cleanups pretty much effortless, and preventing foods from sticking to the grates. You’ll need some equipment:
- Bucket (two is best)
- Grill brick
- Dish soap
- Paper towel or soft cloth
- Vegetable or canola oil
- Spray bottle (optional)
Step 1 Wash the grill grates
Before using your gas or charcoal grill, place the grates in a bucket and wash them with mild dishwashing liquid. Doing so removes the protective wax coating that is applied to the grill grates prior to shipping.
Step 2: Brush the grill grates
While still in the bucket, wet a grill brick (a large pumice stone designed for grills) and scrub the grates to remove any particles left on the grates from the manufacturing process. If you only have one bucket dump the water when finished with this step.
Step 3: Rinse the grill grates
Refill the bucket (or use a separate bucket) with hot water and thoroughly rinse the grill grates. Scrubbing again and rinsing a second time can help ensure the grates are free of any dangerous leftover chemicals or particles that may have been missed in step 1, which can find their way into your cooking food. Immediately after rinsing the second time, COMPLETELY dry your grates with paper towels or a soft cloth. Never wash your cast iron grates in a dishwasher or let them air dry because they will rust!
TIP: Many grillers use a standard stainless steel or brass grilling brush. While they do a fine job of cleaning grill grates, these brushes can leave behind fine, sharp stray bristles that if adhered to grilled foods can pose a danger to your mouth, throat, and intestines if swallowed.
Step 4: Season the grill grates
Proper seasoning of cast iron grates before using your grill further removes contaminants and seals the cast iron to prevent rust and food from sticking when cooking. Using a spray bottle or paper towel, apply a coat of vegetable or canola oil (both are high heat oils) over the entire surface, including corners, and between the grates. If you use a spray bottle, follow with a paper towel to ensure the area is coated evenly. Place coated grates back onto your grill and start it up. Allow it to burn for about 15 minutes or until all oils burn off and stop smoking.
Step 5: Re-season grill grates frequently
When your grill is new, you need to re-season your grates often to build up a solid protective coating. If you notice rust on your grates, it indicates either you haven’t seasoned your grates enough or the seasoning has burned off. If this occurs, first brush grates with the stainless steel brush and reapply oil as we did in step 4.
Maintaining grill grates
To maintain your grill grates, you need to burn off visible pieces of food after cooking. Let the grill cool down so you can brush away any residue with your grill brick. Re-season as we did in step 4 when necessary (every few months or so). Like any cast iron pan. The more you use your grill grates, the easier they are to clean. Be sure to store your grill grates in a dry place.
Preparing your grill for the first time using the above steps will help you enjoy many seasons of grilling fun.