Cast iron grill grates are popular choices due to the cast irons toughness and durability, as well as for its ability to heat evenly and retain that heat for extended periods of time. While cast iron grill grates may be resilient to many different conditions, they need to be properly cleaned and maintained in order to last. Here is an easy guide to cleaning your cast iron grill, keeping it in tip-top condition.
The first thing to remember is that the best time to clean your grill grate after you’ve finished grilling and the grate has completely cooled.
Cleaning as soon as you are finished means that the food and residue do not have any time to harden or attach to the grill grate. Allow the grill grate to cool enough so that you can safely handle it. The porcelain coating on the grates will help the residue easily come off. In addition, the bristles on your brass bristle brush will melt if the grate is too hot when cleaning.
The second, and perhaps most important, thing to remember is that the biggest enemy of your cast iron grate is the blade at the end of your grill brush. The blade will potentially cause the porcelain coating to chip, exposing the cast iron to oxygen and casing it to rust. Most cast iron cooking grids are manufactured with some sort of porcelain coating (either glossy or matte). This helps protects the cast iron when not only exposed to the elements but also grease and sauces.
If there is no coating on your cast iron grate then beware of water. Water that is left on the grill grate will cause it to rust and deteriorate. While water is used in a few steps off the cleaning process, it is imperative that it is fully removed by the time you are done cleaning.
The first step in cleaning your grate is to brush it down with a wire brush or a stainless steel scrubber (such as Scotch-Brite) in order to remove any food particles that may be lingering on the surface.
Once you have brushed the biggest particles of food off, spray down the grate with a solution of one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water. Wipe off the solution with a paper towel, repeating as necessary until all food residue is removed. You can also spray a grill degreaser on the grates and let it sit for a few minutes.
Once all food particles have been removed, the next step is to remove any extra grease. The grease can be washed off with a sponge dipped in warm water and a mild soap. Again, make sure that the soapy water solution is completely rubbed off with a clean cloth.
After your grill has been completely cleaned, you want to season the grill. This can be accomplishing by applying a light film of oil (vegetable or olive) or shortening to the grill grates. Seal the oil by wrapping each grate in foil and then placing in the grill. Turn the grill on high, close the lid, and heat the grates for around 10 minutes. Seasoning your grill will help protect it from rust.
By following these steps you can make sure that your grill remains is good shape and that you are always ready to fire it up for your next barbeque.
If your grates are beginning to crumble, it is time to replace them. You do not want to eat on grates that have rusted through (not surface rust that can be removed)by Tracy Hollander