Cooking Outdoors All Year Long
According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, 86 percent of American households own an outdoor barbeque. Sixty-two percent of these individuals use their grills year-round, even in the winter.
This may be due to the fact that some people prefer grilling food on a gas or charcoal grill for the flavor.
"If I'm paying $20 a pound for filet mignon, you better believe I'm going to grill the meat outside - no matter what the weather," Ohio resident Mary Novak recently told The Dayton Daily News. "Nothing beats the flavor of outdoor grilling, so I do it year-round."
Meat is certainly the most popular item Americans cook on an outdoor grill. The HPBA reports burgers, steaks, hot dogs and chicken are the foods most often prepared outdoors. However, many people also cook items such as fish, vegetables, side dishes and dessert on their grills.
Whether you choose to fire up the grill while it's cold outside in order to savor the flavor or reduce the fat content of your food, experts say there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your safety as well as a delicious outcome.
First of all, if there's snow on the ground, you'll have to clear a path to the grill and clear it off. Avid cold-weather grillers may choose to invest in walkway or driveway heating products to make this step easier.
It's important to give your grill enough time to preheat, especially in the cold weather. It may take longer to heat up, but results shouldn't be affected as long as you're patient. Weber grill experts say it may take up to twice as long for a grill to come to temperature.
Consumer Reports recommends positioning your grill at least 10 feet away from combustible surfaces and away from any material, such as siding, that heat could damage. It's also important to grill in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a grill inside an enclosed patio, garage or beneath an overhang.
The Dayton Daily news suggests checking gas grills for gas leaks, deterioration and burner obstructions before using, especially if you haven't used it for a while.
You'll also want to ensure you're dressed warmly enough to brave the elements while cooking outdoors. However, avoid wearing scarves, tassels or other items that could be ignited while you're leaning over the open flame.
Your food may take longer to cook when it's cold outside. However, leaving the lid closed and positioning the unit at a 90 degree angle to the wind should help keep it as hot as possible.
Food safety experts say it's important to use a meat thermometer to ensure food is thoroughly cooked and safe to eat any time of year, especially during the winter.