Five Steps for Safe Summer Grilling

Summer time is grill time! But before you get all ready for the big family get together this Memorial Day weekend – when is the last time you tuned your gas grill?  This week’s post comes to us from our Grill Guru, “Uncle Smokey.”

5 Steps to Tune Your Grill

If you are like me, I don’t use the outdoor grill much in the winter, preferring to use the oven and help warm the house. Besides, by dinner preparation time in winter it’s often dark outside. But now – it’s warmed up, sun goes down late, and no way do I want to heat the house. Time to use the grill!

Here in the Southwest, the gas grill sits out all year, but it’s a sensitive piece of equipment and needs periodic maintenance. If you haven’t used it for a few months – do these five things first. And even if you used it last weekend – when is the last time you did a full tune-up?!



Grease, food bits, and charred remnants limit the effectiveness of your grill and can lead to flare-ups – dangerous! Give your grill a good scrub. Using soap, warm water and a steel wool pad, scrub down each of your cooking grids. Do the same for those sear plates, ensuring they are in good working order. If not, buy replacement parts.

Gently clean each burner ensuring they are in good shape and the burner ports are not plugged. Pull out the tray(s) under the burners.  Those trays collect fallen food bits and fat and need cleaning! Elbow grease time – scrub clean. If you have them, Empty and clean or replace the grease tins or trays.

Check for Gas Leaks

Once cleaning is done, inspect all hoses and feed tubes. Look for any crimps, scratching and or punctures. (Pack rats are out there, and they gnaw on anything!) If you detect any of these – time to replace the hoses.

Also check your gas regulator for leaks every so often.

A leak test should be performed when you change any components on your grill. Brush a combination of soap and water on each hose and especially at the connections — if no bubbles form, you are good to go. If there are bubbles, it is indicative of a gas leak that needs repair.

Check Ignition

Clean – yes. Safe – yes. Now check to see how well the grill lights. For battery ignitions it’s a good idea to simply replace the batteries with new ones. Check electrode leads and ensure the tips of the electrodes are clean and have no grease or rust build up. If they do, use a very fine grit sandpaper (280 or 300) to gently clean them.

If you are about my age, you may have a David Bowie song running through your head after reading the title of this paragraph.  (And here is the YouTube link to the entire song)

Get Your Tools Together

Make sure you are equipped with a good grill cleaning brush — cedar scrapers are all the rage right now, but there is something to be said for a good abrasive pad. You will also want to make sure you have a good set of tongs, a quality spatula and it is a great idea to invest in a temperature probe.

Cedar grill scraper. Photo courtesy of Napolean Grill.

Upgrade Your Grilling Game

The start of the season is when new gadgets come out. Consider a Himalayan Salt platter to bring a new dimension to your outdoor cooking, or a rotisserie basket that enables you to cooked mixed veggies or pub fare like wings and fries without using oil. Go ahead and invest in yourself.  If you have some of these fun grill toys, you are more likely to have fun while grilling – and keep the house cooler too.  So look at it this way – your fun grill toys help you save money on your energy bill. 

A grill basket is a fine way to cook vegetables. Fire roasted zucchini actually taste good.

Wishing you all a safe and savory grilling season!

Uncle Smokey

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More fun with honey in: Using Honey in New & Savory Ways (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). Only $7 online – or buy from Monica or Jacqueline in person. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.

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