Ah the smell of the clean cool/cold air. It’s wintertime and I’m hungry, so let’s go fire up the grill and cook something!
No matter what you cook, it seems, food that’s been cooked on a grill is just more exciting, bar none. Winter grilling, and for that matter, fall grilling can be more enjoyable than summer grilling if for no other reason there are less bugs.
Unless you can come up with at least three good excuses why you can’t, you can keep on grilling throughout the fall and right through winter if you simply prepare for it. If one of your excuses is that “it’s cold out there”, (“AHAWG!” – the sound of a klaxon horn at a hockey game) NOPE! You would be WRONG. You can always put on your coveralls and a Parka and go flip a burger or whatever else you want to cook.
“It’s icy and snowy out thar!” Oh boo freakin hoo! That excuse is plain-lame. I never met an icicle hanging on the grill that didn’t cry itself into a little pool of sad water when the grill was piping HOT! AHAWG! NOPE! You would be WRONG.
In fact, I have a hard time thinking of even one excuse that would be good enough to stop me from using the grill short of physical ailments.
Winter grilling is really extra special in many ways:
- One. Maybe it’s just me, but I simply feel food tastes better when grilled out in the heavy cold air. Maybe that’s because I’ve get to take quite a few breaths of that air while out there and it’s opened both my sense of smell and my pallet. I don’t know.
- Two. It nails you down as a true grilling die-hard that simply won’t let the elements get in the way of creating a delicious meal on your grill.
- Three sort of goes with ‘two’ as it is a great way to create a great aroma in the neighborhood and your neighbors know it’s you making something great on your grill. (Especially if you’ve fed them before! Always feed your neighbors.)
- Four. Grilled anything goes very well with homemade snow ice cream. (Okay, so I just threw that one in. But…it’s true.)
With all that said, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when doing your winter grilling. One word comes to mind as very important. “Prepare.” I have included some warning items and some tips to help you.
Here’s a few:
- Wear appropriate clothing. you are going to have to make the trip to the grill to perform certain functions. Make your clothing decision based on distance and time out in the elements. Do not include the amount of antifreeze you have consumed. The antifreeze really doesn’t effect the ‘skin’ effects of frostbite much. Wear a jacket or coat and gloves that will provide warmth but be aware of anything that may dangle that could get caught in the fire. A good pair of Grilling Gloves are ALWAYS better than mittens or standard gloves. Any glove is better than a mitt in my opinion as they allow for all your fingers to work and not be captivated preventing independent movement.
- Clear the path to your grill. If there is ice and/or snow on your way to the grill, one slip will spoil the fun. If need be, throw down some ice melt salt to improve traction. Best idea to all possible pathway problems is to simply eliminate or move anything that could cause you to have to walk around or cause a fall.
- Do not pull your grill into the garage as a nice refuge from the elements as many home fires have resulted from this one act. (“YES! It CAN HAPPEN to YOU!”) Another problem with cooking in your garage is the fact that toxic fumes, READ: Carbon Monoxide, can build up in there and if your garage is attached to the house, it can build up in your house as well.
- Move the grill if you find it’s under snow or ice laden branches or overhangs. (If you don’t, be sure to have someone video you cooking as it may suddenly become a comedy act.)
- Grilling in the winter will take a bit longer than you may be used to. Consider adding 20 to 30 percent to your cooking times.
- Wind is really bad news to winter grilling. It can suck the heat right out of your grill if you let it. Make sure it’s out of the wind. (You should have your grill set this way anyway, but it’s extremely important for winter.)
- Keep the lid closed. You will need to not open the grill to “watch” the cooking as this allows the heat to escape replacing it with very cold air.
- Don’t crowd the grill grate with food as it may prevent proper heat circulation.
- Propane. Yes I know propane does indeed lose some effectiveness when the outside temperature and the cylinder the propane gets cold. But I really didn’t know exactly why. So I decided to do a bit of research and found some interesting information. The “boiling point” where liquid propane changes to a gas is -44 degrees Fahrenheit. So that doesn’t seem to be a major problem for most of us. However the pressure inside the vessel could cause the output of the gas to be lower than normal. however even in places where it gets below -20 you should still have about 15 PSI in the tank. This is a bit low but should be enough pressure to squirt out enough gas to keep your fire burning. If this is a real hindrance you might consider keeping a spare tank where it’s warmer or getting a charcoal or wood burning grill for the wintertime. But most people with propane grills, it will work just fine. Just remember winter grilling generally will take a bit longer anyway.
- You will need brush off all snow on the grill to speed preheating. It will melt anyway, but by getting it off first will speed things up a bit.
- Remember, metals and plastic get brittle when it’s cold so don’t slam the lid and stress the knobs to avoid breaking them.
There you go. I can probably think of some more and may add some later, but it’s time to go get the grill going and I’m hungry. If you follow these tips and some common sense, you will be doing some great winter grilling on your grill.