Most of us backyard cooks know we have to clean the grill. It's important for overall health and it makes the next barbecue easier. But we may be confused about when to clean the grill. Should we do it just after you finish cooking, or is it best to wait until we fire up the grill for the next cookout? The truth is, when we clean the grill really isn't all that important.
Why We Clean the Grill
Some of us are just clean freaks by nature and we instinctively know to clean the grill when we're done (and we probably clean it again when we use it the next time). Others have learned that if food particles are left on the grill, they tend to make more food stick. It's a domino effect.
Food particles stuck to the grill become charred, and research shows that charred food may contain cancer-causing agents. Plus, bacteria can also grow in those food particles. So, for a variety of reasons, it's important to clean the grill.
Strike While the Fire's Hot
If you give the grill grate a good scraping with the wire brush and then close the cover right after you are finished cooking, the heat will burn off any small food particles and allow any grease left on the grate to help season the metal for easier cleaning next time.
What's the Hurry?
But often when people grill, it's because we have company over or we're in a hurry and need a quick way to cook without a lot of cleanup. We may not want to take the time to clean the grill when we're done. We want to eat and mingle or get off to our engagements.
It's perfectly okay to wait until the next time you grill before cleaning the grate. You may find that it takes a bit longer because food has adhered to the metal. But if you turn up the heat and close the cover for about 10 minutes while the grill heats, you should be able to clean the grill grate without any problems.
No matter when you chose to clean the grill, allowing it to heat up for a few minutes before cooking new foods will eliminate any bacteria that may have formed. Most recipes recommend waiting until the grill is hot anyway, to avoid drying out the meat. So despite all the debate, when you clean your grill isn't all that important - as long as you clean it before your next cookout.