In any grill, grates are the part where you put the meat and veggies for grilling.
Since the food is put in direct contact with the grates, it is highly essential to keep them clean and sanitized not just for hygienic cooking but also to keep the artificial tastes at bay.
Most people prefer cast iron grill grates because of the durability element.
But at the same time, if you lack in proper maintenance, they will easily catch grease and rust that will contaminate your food.
That’s why you have to put special efforts in keeping the cast iron grill grates clean properly.
What Are Cast Iron Grill Grates?
The cast iron grill grates are excessively tough. However, it can work as a good base but because of its oxidization tendency, the maintenance becomes almost impossible. It is important that there is some kind of coating on the top.
It can be of porcelain. Also, there is another option of stainless-steel grill grate that demand the least maintenance.
In porcelain enamelled cast iron grates, you get low maintenance non-stick grates that does not require any seasoning before you put the meat on. Also, cleaning these grates is really simple.
However, among the pitmasters, this option is not very effective because the porcelain coating eventually comes off and expose the inner cast iron base.
You can increase the life of these grates by gently scrubbing the grates as you clean. However, these have smaller life than stainless-steel material.
Now, the stainless-steel grates are also low in maintenance and highly durable as well. They don’t rust and can handle sun and moisture abuse.
But on the downside, these grates will not reach the same high-temperature as cast-iron grates and also the material might start to turn dark after some time.
Since grilling is all about using extreme heat to cook the food, you can go with porcelain enamelled cast-iron grates and maintain them for prolonged usage.
Tools To Use to Properly Clean the Grates
As you will have to clean the grates, there are some tools that are gentle yet effective enough for the task.
1. Grill Brush
Mostly in grill grate cleaning, stainless-steel brushes are given maximum preference. Well, these brushes have a wider face so that they can cover a large area at one time. It is a perfect time saver, especially when you are in a hurry.
Plus, the ones with shorter sides are able to conveniently clean the edges.
The bristles should not be too harsh to scrub off the coating on top because they will seriously damage the entire product. You should know more about the best grill brush to make a perfect purchase.
One of the best recommendations in a grill brush is the Weber 6494 which is a 12-inches wide brush to cover most of the grates at one time.
The stainless-steel bristles make it durable and performance-friendly.
2. Grill Cleaner
The next thing you direly require is a grill cleaner. A cleaner should be such that it does not scratch the grill surface and is extremely active to effectively get rid of stubborn food residue on the grates.
Just make sure the formation of cleaner is non-flammable and phosphate-free. You can learn more about the best grill cleaners here.
As far as recommendation is concerned, Therapy Premium Grill Cleaner is one of the best with its unique blend of plant-based ingredients the removes steaks, smudges and fingerprints from the surface.
Cast Iron Grill Grate Care Tips
As we have emphasized on the care so much, it is essential to give you a quick handbook on how you can do so. Let’s dive right in:
1. First Time Use
When you unpack the griller, as excited as you are to use it, the first task in everyone’s mind is to clean the grates properly.
You can wash the grates with a mild soap and rinse it with warm water. But after that, it is essential to allow them to dry.
You should not let the air do the job for you because air-dried grates are prone to rusting. Simply take a piece of cloth and clean the grates gently. Make sure they are completely dry.
Since this is the first time, make sure to coat the grates with cooking oil. You can do so using a paper towel or coating brush. The recommended oils are vegetable, grapeseed or bacon fat.
Once the coating is done, place them in an oven on 400-degrees for 60-minutes. You can also put them on the grill on the same temperature for 40-minutes. Allow the heated grates to cool down and set them back inside the grill as they are ready to be used for the first grilling.
2. Maintenance of Grill Grates
When the grates are still new, as much as you will season them, it will improve the quality of the product. This is the first step towards good maintenance.
After every grilling session, you should allow the grates to cool down and once they are touchable, immediately remove the substantial residue. This will save your time later while thorough cleaning. If you want to follow a home-based technique then take half an onion and clean the grates with it.
After every thorough clean-up, you should always season the grates with vegetable oil for proper maintenance. You can use a pair of tongs with paper towel attached on the top for seasoning.
3. Usage of Soap or Not
There are mixed reviews on whether to use soap or not on cast iron material. It is not possible to pick a side because the people who are in favor of using soap will claim that there is no way one can completely clean the grates without using soap.
At the same time, the ones that defers usage says that it is difficult to retain the seasoning as soap strips it off.
Well, we believe that a perfect solution can be a grill cleaner that is not harsh as a soap to hamper the seasoning. Plus, it will also clean the grates effectively leaving no complaints with the favourers as well.
4. Rust Prevention
One of the most important things in cast iron grill grate care is the rust prevention.
It doesn’t just open a room for debris and contamination but also make your food unsafe and unfit for consumption.
There are a few ways in which you can prevent the rust on grates.
- Never leave the grates with food residue
- Make sure to season the grates after every use
- Make sure condensation does not collect in the grill, you can prevent it by opening the dampers for some time
- Keep the grill covered when it is unused
- If you are planning not to use the grill for a long time then make sure to heavily coat the grates with oil and wrap them in a plastic bag.
Well, cast iron material can be a bit demanding when it comes to maintenance but its durability and performance in high temperatures makes it exceptional to use.
Just make sure to keep the grates seasoned after every use and never left them in open to come in contact with moisture or air for a long time.
This will protect the grates to a large extent and you can use them for a long-long time.