Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grilling Green

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting article with tips on how to grill in an eco-friendly way. While some of the tips didn't strike me as particularly useful or practical for most people -- e.g., avoid beef, eat only local foods, replace your charcoal grill with a propane one and avoid grates with a chemical non-stick coating -- a few of the other tips are actually quite easy to implement and will result in better-tasting food, to boot. Here are some ways you can "grill green" and help the environment while enjoying delicious grilled food:

*Use natural, 100% wood lump charcoal instead of chemical-laden briquettes. Your food will taste better because natural lump charcoal burns cleaner, and doesn't impart any off-flavors from chemicals found in composite briquettes. And unlike composite briquettes, you can use the cold ash from natural wood charcoal in your garden. Natural wood chips are also an excellent choice for environmentally friendly grilling and smoking.

*Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid to start the fire, and light some crumpled newspaper to light the coals in the chimney. Lighter fluid may be quick, but it's too easy to use too much, and it can add nasty flavors to your food (and you'll be breathing in the toxic fumes). Plus, adding lighter fluid can make grilling more dangerous. A starter chimney is easy to use, and will get the coals nice and hot pretty quickly because they'll be stacked up.

*Preheat your grill for only 5 to 10 minutes. You really don't need to waste fuel or add wear and tear to your grill by preheating for longer. Just make sure you keep an eye on your grill thermometer when preheating, and you'll see that you really can get your grill to the desired temperature within 10 minutes or so, especially when using a charcoal chimney or a propane grill with a built-in thermometer.

*Make sure your grill is clean. Dirty grill grates impart unpleasant flavors when caked-on bits of old food or sauce start to burn, and they also produce more smoke (pollution) and possibly even release carcinogens into the air. By washing your grill grates and drip pan with hot, soapy water after each use, and also keeping the inside of the grill clean, you'll not only pollute less but your food will taste much better.

*Choose organic sauces, or at least all-natural BBQ sauces like Bone Suckin' Sauce and all-natural dry rubs like Texas Rib Rangers Seasonings, to season your food. Trust me, you won't miss the artificial ingredients or preservatives, and these types of sauces and condiments are healthier as well as naturally delicious, too.

Zestfully yours,

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