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Clean your grill with an onion (and 6 other grilling hacks)

Clean your grill with an onion (and 6 other grilling hacks)

Start your fire with an egg carton and check your propane levels using a tea kettle

Grilling season is divine, there’s no doubt about it. The smoke, the char, the flames and the flavor are each a seasonal delight. But the cleanup? That one’s for the birds.

What if I told you, though, that instead of brushing and bristling at your racks, you could just wipe them down with an onion? Read on for essential grill hacks that will help you take your grilling game to the next level.

Clean your grill with an onion

Cleaning a grill with an onionCleaning a grill with an onion — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / ideeone

There are two ways to go about doing this, and they both begin with chopping an onion in half. The easiest, non-toxic way to scrub a dirty grill rack clean is to wipe it down with an onion. You’re going to want to make sure your grill is on when doing so, as the heat activates the onion’s natural cleaning power. And skewering your onion on a long grilling fork will allow you more freedom of motion and a firmer grip than a pair of tongs can offer you.

Once you’re preheated and sufficiently skewered, all you have to do is rub the cut surface of the onion along the racks. Any detritus should peel right off as you go.

But get this: wiping down your clean rack with an onion before you even slap your meat and veggies down can make cleanup a breeze. That’s because the onion’s natural oils will form a protective coating on the metal, and maybe even add a little flavor to your meal.

Take propane inventory with a tea kettle

Use a tea kettle like this to find out how much propane is left in your tankUse a tea kettle like this to find out how much propane is left in your tank — Photo courtesy of iStock / DavidPrahl

Never again worry about running out of gas before your meal is fully cooked, thanks to this simple trick. To tell how much propane is left in a tank, all you need to do is pour a tea kettle full of warm water – no need to fully boil it – down the side of a propane tank.

The warm water will heat the metal in the top portion of the tank all the way down to the point where the liquified propane within is contained. If your tank is warm nearly all the way to the bottom, it’s time to fill up. But if your tank feels nice and cool to the touch, you’re good to grill.

Hail a Propane Taxi

So you’ve tried the tea kettle trick only to discover that you are definitely out of gas? Don’t sweat it. Companies like Propane Taxi will actually come bring you a fresh tank, all at the push of a button on their smartphone app.

And while Propane Taxi may be one of the only companies offering deliveries via app, it’s hardly the only company willing to deliver altogether. Companies like AmeriGas and All State Propane offer delivery services, and sometimes even offer coupon codes if you search for delivery in your city.

Smoke some lemonade while you preheat

Grilled lemonGrilled lemon — Photo courtesy of iStock / Adam Calaitzis

Don’t let those first precious moments of BBQ time go to waste while you wait for your grill to heat up. Instead, toss a dozen lemons cut in half onto the racks before you even light your pilot. As the grill heats up, the oils and juices within the lemon will as well, making them easier to juice and much more fragrant.

When your grill reaches optimal grilling temperature, remove the lemons with a pair of tongs, and let them cool a bit before juicing. Until you’ve slowly sipped a glass of sweet, citrusy, smoked lemonade, it’s impossible to understand quite what you’ve been missing all this time.

Achieve big, smoky hardwood flavor…from a gas grill

Wood chipsWood chips — Photo courtesy of iStock / Salomonus_

This trick is so simple, you’ll kick yourself for not already thinking of it. Wood grilling creates some of the most desirable, layered flavors possible in the world of grilling, but it is by far the most challenging fuel source to grill with.

Want a great way to impart smoky, wood-burning flavor into your easier to control, gas-grilled meal? Just toss some wood chips into a tightly sealed aluminum foil packet, and pierce a few holes in the top. Be careful not to punch through the bottom layer of foil though.

As the packet heats up, the wood chips will release their fragrant oils, allowing you to add cherry, pecan or hickory notes to your meat without ever bothering to swing an axe.

Start your fire with a carton of eggs

A paper egg cartonA paper egg carton — Photo courtesy of iStock / offstocker

Charcoal is a fairly easy grilling medium to manipulate, once you’ve got the fire started. But even briquettes marketed as “no lighter fluid necessary” can be a real pain in the neck if there’s so much as a gentle breeze in the air. But an easy way to get a good flame going is to place a dozen pieces of charcoal into the depressions of a paper egg carton.

Place the entire carton in the bottom of your grill and then light it up. The paper will burn immediately, and help jumpstart the briquettes. Just don’t try this trick with a Styrofoam or plastic carton.

Do your grilling inside

Binchotan, white charcoalBinchotan, white charcoal — Photo courtesy of iStock / kuppa_rock

No need to cancel your grilling due to inclement weather. Just move the grilling inside! Yes, indoor grilling is not only possible, but frequently practiced throughout Japan, all thanks to a special type of almost pristinely white charcoal called Binchotan.

Formed by burning wood at such insanely high temperatures that it completely destroys all impurities and moisture within it, Binchotan briquettes burn efficiently enough to be used indoors. Unfortunately, they can be quite difficult to get your hands on, and they’re really your only option for indoor grilling.

Never try grilling indoors with regular charcoal, gas or wood-burning grills. If the smoke inhalation doesn’t kill you, and your apartment doesn’t burn down on top of you, the toxic chemicals released by grilling will certainly do you in.

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