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Barbecue Spring Cleaning

While on the subject of Spring, at least in the Deep South, as signaled by last weeks post on green salad, it is time for a Spring cleaning. It is now time to clean your barbecue, grill, smoker, or whatever you call your outdoor cooking device. Charcoal grills and smokers are relatively easy to clean. Just clean the cooking grate and empty the ash. If it is a water smoker, be sure to thoroughly clean the water pan after every use before ugly critters grow in it.

A gas grill is far more complicated because of its many parts. The first step is to make sure your propane tank is not out of date. The date of manufacture is stamped on the metal collar around the valve. The 10 4 pictured means it was manufactured in October of 2004 and is now out of date. Propane tanks are good for only 12 years, then you should swap them out. The companies that exchange tanks (e.g., Blue Rhino) hydrostatically pressure test them to be sure they are safe and refurbish them for continued use.

Next, remove easily removable parts one by one and scrape and brush them. Pictured is the debris removed from my gas grill after a winter of regular use. Wire brush the burners and use a needle or fine stiff wire to clean out any clogged burner holes. Next, I get out my ShopVac and suck out any residual debris. Close the lid and scrub the outside. I use Simple Green and water. It cuts grease fairly well without damaging the grill. Replace the cleaned parts. Heat with all burners on high, lid closed, for 20 minutes. Turn off the grill and let it cool.

Warnings have been posted about using wire bristle brushes for cleaning grills. The problem is that people have reported bristles falling out and ending up in their food. I have used these brushes for many years without a problem but be advised this could possibly happen. The reason I like the brush pictured below is the scraper. The scraper is handy for scraping food scraps off my grill’s cooking grate before brushing them. The notches in the corners of the scraper fit the smaller rungs of my smoker’s cooking grates.

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