Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Outdoor Grills – Stainless Is Not Always Best

Today’s outdoor grills are better than ever before. The use of stainless steel is commonplace, and this not only improves the look, but adds to the grills overall longevity. There is no arguing that stainless steel will hold up better than almost anything in and outdoor environment. It is used extensively for hardware and fittings on the finest boats due to its resistance to rust and corrosion.

Your barbeque grill is the perfect candidate for stainless steel. It sits outside all year long, and is exposed to high temperatures when cooking. Baked on food residue is also fairly easy to remove from stainless surfaces. Though corrosion resistance and ease of maintenance are important factors, they do not determine how effective a grill is at actually cooking food. For that we must look beyond the obvious advantages of stainless steel, and concentrate on the characteristics that make a grill perform.

For optimal cooking performance the grilling surface (grates) should radiate heat evenly minimizing any hot spots. As a general rule, the thicker the grills are the more evenly they will give off heat, and the longer they will radiate that heat. Although stainless steel is adequate, the best type of grilling surface has proven to be cast iron. Although it takes a little longer for cast iron to heat up, grills made of cast iron will retain the heat for longer periods, and radiate that heat more evenly than stainless steel. The problem with cast iron vs. stainless steel is that cast iron grills will eventually rust and need replacement. This problem is minimized by the use of porcelain and ceramic coatings that have been developed to protect the grills, making them last longer and be easier to clean.

At first glance you may be fooled into believing that the more stainless steel a barbeque grill has the better, but as is so often the case, too much of a good thing does not necessarily make it any better. Although stainless may be the best choice for some of the grill’s components, it may not be the best material for everything. Striking a balance between performance and longevity will assure that you get the most from your barbeque grill. Keep in mind that the grills (cooking grates) are the least expensive and most easily replaced parts of a barbeque. They are also the only components to actually touch the food, and have a profound impact on the overall quality of the cooking experience.


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