There is a reason people are in love with their cast iron grills. Try it even if it means spending time and making an effort to care for them. The maintenance needed is a little price to pay for the rest of the benefits you get from cast iron griddles. And when it comes to grilling any pit master will vouch of their cast iron grill grates. There is enough merit to all the love they get. The results they deliver more than makes up for the maintenance and care they need.
Here are a few benefits of cast iron grill grates
- They are incredibly resilient and durable. You can cook practically anything on cast iron. Acidic foods will cause the only change or a little damage you might see to the seasoning you might build over time.
- Cast iron grates distribute heat well, retain and give high temperatures. The kind of warmth you need to get those professional looking searing marks on the meat.
- With a cast iron grill grate, you have the freedom to choose any metal for grilling tools and accessories you want. So you can choose durable ones that can last as long as the grill grates or even the grill itself.
- With proper care and maintenance, they are well worth the initial investment and can last long.
- They are a healthier alternative to coated non-stick cooking options
Now, with all those great things, there are a few pitfalls too. I am honest with you. None of them is a deal-breaker for me. Here are things you need to take care of with your cast iron grill grates. They are prone to rust and corrosion. Even if you clean cast iron grill grate properly exposure to natural elements and not seasoning correctly can lead them to develop rust. To prevent rusty grill grates, you need to clean and season them properly after every use. To clean cast iron grill grates properly, you need to first clean with while it’s still warm.
How to clean cast iron grill grates
You will use cast iron grill grates for many years if you take good care of them. I can’t te the importance of cleaning and seasoning them right after the cook. Here are the steps that I follow and have been able to keep my cast iron grill grates rust free.
- As you need to clean cast iron grill grate while it is still warm, when you finish cooking, set the oven to pre-heat. Once it is pre-heated, you can switch it off and start cleaning. You can also turn up your grill to high and let the left-over bits of food burn off. Let the grill to cool down if it is too hot. It should ideally be just warm. Remember to wear gloves and be generally careful when dealing with the hot grill grates. Use a wire brush to scrape off all leftover food bits and any other debris or grease. Scrape to get the surface completely clean and waste-free.
- Once all the food and other leftover bits rare cleared off the surface, you can either re-season it or clean it thoroughly with soap and warm water or with a vinegar solution. Remember that cleaning with soap and warm water will strip the grill of the seasoning you might have got. To wash with soap, soak a sponge in detergent and warm water. Use the latest little soap as possible. Once you have taken a good scrub with the sponge, clean the grill with warm water, and you will get rid of any soap residue. You will hear some people say no to using soap and water before seasoning. But the rubs and marinades leave salt on the grill, cleaning with water and soap helps you get rid of it.
- After you have thoroughly cleaned the surface and are left with the metal surface, ensure there is no moisture left. Get the grates to dry out completely and give them a final wipe down with a kitchen towel. You will now be left with clean, bare metal grates. The last and most crucial step is to know how to season cast iron grill grates properly. As with a cast-iron skillet or any other cast iron utensil, seasoning is the most critical thing to keep them in their prime. You must clean them every time you cook. You can use any vegetable oil. I avoid using peanut oil to keep it safe for anyone with allergies. Do not use butter or any other form of fat that has salt in it. Once you have oiled the grates completely, put them back on the oven. You need to ensure that the grill grates are saturated with oil completely. You can try wrapping the grates in aluminum foil and placing them over the grill. Leave them there for about 10 minutes under a closed lid.
How to remove rust from cast iron grill grates
Let us start by accepting that even with the best of intentions and resolve, you might end up rusty grill grates. It could happen if you have not used them for a long time, exposed them to moisture or rain and several other reasons. It is not too tough to get the rust off the grill grate. When cleaning away, rust tries using natural ingredients only, stay away from toxic substances. You are going to use it cook after all, and natural ingredients work just as well. All the components we are going to apply are in your kitchen.
- You will find phosphoric acid as an ingredient in all rust removers. Phosphoric acid is present in baking soda. If only a part of your grill is rusted, rub a little baking soda mixed with water and leave it overnight. The rust will come off quickly.
- Vinegar – Vinegar has of late become a miracle ingredient. And it truly is when it comes to cleaning. It works wonders to clean metal surfaces and remove rust from grill grates. You can use a half and half solution of water and vinegar. Add a small amount of salt and rub the mixture on the grill with a washcloth. Leave it for 20 – 30 minutes. Then, you will scrub the grill with a wire brush and remove the rust altogether. You must use a solution of vinegar and baking soda. Mix a cup of baking soda and go on adding vinegar, so you have the consistency of a paste. Apply and leave it on for 20 – 30 minutes and scrub with a sponge. Rinse the grill with warm water and dry it with kitchen towels.
- Lemon juice mixed with detergent – Lemon juice works very well in dissolving rust. Form a paste with lemon juice and soap and apply liberally over the grill. Leave it overnight to give time to dissolve the rust build-up. Use a sponge, a washcloth with warm water and scrub off the rust.
- Rust removers – A lot of rust removers are available in the market. They work well too but might contain toxic substances. If you are looking for one, ensure that you buy one specially made to remove rust from cast iron grill grates.
After removing the rust and cleaning with water, do not let it air dry. Remove every bit of moisture either on the grill or with a paper towel. And season it well. Would warn you though, if the grates have corroded too much and there is a lot of rust. You might need to explore options to replace them.
Quick round-up and parting tips to help you keep your prized cast iron grill grates clean and rust-free.
- Cleaning a cast iron grate is not so complicated. Get a good grill cover and take out it from time to time to season it and check for any rusting.
- Follow the clean-dry-season routine after each cook; pay attention to a few things. Remember to scrape and clear out any form of leftovers and debris, do not air dry, season with vegetable oil. Seasoning is the magic that will keep your grates rust-free and will turn them non-stick over time.
- Remember to heat the grates after you have seasoned them. It ensures that the oil seals the pores as it gets polymerized on heating. I am what gives it the non-stick quality. If you have been regularly seasoning the pan and have cleaned it up after a cook, one coat of seasoning will do. But when you remove rust from grill grates, you will need multiple layers of seasoning.
Grilling with cast iron grates is excellent. And once you have learned how to clean them and season them properly, they will only improve with time.