If you are one of the many people who love grilling year round here are a few tips to make your winter grilling a little less of a challenge. If you are just cooking something quick like burgers most of this will not apply to you. Northern Ohio, where we are located, may not have the worst weather in the country but it can get pretty miserable at times.
Wind is your enemy, more so then the cold. Gas grills especially have large vents to let them breathe so a good gust of wind will blow your burners out. Charcoal grills tend to be better equipped to deal with the wind but even a little wind can cover your food with ash. Try placing something to block the wind a couple of feet away from the grill to act as a buffer. Do not back you grill up to your house especially if you have vinyl siding, also do not block your vents. Placing your grill near your house may not seem like a big deal but accidents do happen no matter how careful you are.
Place a fire brick or two in your grill. This helps to stabilize the internal temperature of your grill even if the wind is howling and you won’t loose all your heat when you open your lid. There are bricks made specifically for use with food but I have found a normal brick wrapped with foil is just as effective for this use. The walls of most low end grills are just a thin metal and will cool off when hit with just a slight breeze. The bricks can be set right on your grill grates off to the side and out of your way. More expensive grills like the Weber brand have thicker bodies and will hold the heat better and the venting seems to be less.
Have enough fuel. Depending on your grill and the temperature outside you will be using 10 to 30% more fuel to reach and maintain the same temperature you use in the summer.
Allow plenty of time to preheat your grill. I double the time I allow the grill to heat up before cooking in the winter. While the grill gets hotter then I allow it to get in the summer it also cools down quickly when I turn the gas down.
You can now find grill blankets to cover your grill (see ad below) to minimize your heat loss. This sounds like an effective solution for long cooks I just can’t imagine using them when grilling burgers.
Finally don’t set your meat thermometer down outside if it has an LCD screen. Keep it in your pocket where it will not freeze. Freezing the LCD screen will ruin it.
About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.
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