Grilling isn’t just a healthier way to cook these days. It can also be one of the greenest if you keep a few important considerations in mind.
The main concerns will be in relation to air pollution and our carbon footprint when we grill. By planning ahead, we can make our grilling more eco-friendly and eat better than ever before as well.
Steer Clear of Petroleum
Petroleum is often found in lighter fluid and easy to light charcoal. You can usually tell by the smell. Use an electric starter or natural lighter instead, such as a charcoal chimney, an electric charcoal starter, or "fatwood" - pinewood saturated with resin which is highly flammable. Light it and your grill will be ready in no time.
Choose a Quality Charcoal
Not all charcoals are created equal. Look for natural charcoals and lump charcoal made from furniture scraps and waste wood with no chemical additives. This will reduce your pollution and also improve the flavor of your food.
Try a Gas Grill
Gas grills are much more energy-efficient than charcoal grills and produce far less soot, fumes, and other pollutants.
Switch to Natural Gas
If your family loves grilling, buy a grill that can run on your mains gas rather than bottled gas such as propane. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and burns more cleanly than propane.
Lower Your Preheat Times
Gas grills are ready to cook in 5 to 10 minutes, whereas charcoal takes 15 to 20 minutes. Plan your food accordingly and don’t let your grill burn longer than it has to.
Plan Your Cooking Carefully
Cook the food with the highest cooking temperature when the grill is at its hottest. Put vegetables and fish on the grill earlier and fruit for dessert later.
Pre-Cook Your Chicken and Meat in the Oven
These days with salmonella, E. coli, and other food-borne illnesses, it is unlikely your food will get to a high enough internal temperature on the grill to kill off these germs. Bake your food in the oven until done, then transfer to the grill to get the great grilled taste.
Keep the Grill Clean
This will make it more efficient to cook on.
Use Oiled Foil for Foods That Are Sure to Ooze or Stick
Make little foil parcels with small holes poked in to cook fish and other delicate foods that might stick or fall apart and down into the grill itself.
Clean the Grill When It Is Still Warm
Wait until the grill is cool enough to handle. Then use water and baking soda to scrub it clean of food debris.
Clean the Grill Inside Too
Clean it out regularly so no debris accumulates.
Avoid Charring Food
This releases more fume and pollutants into the atmosphere. Charred meat has also been associated with various cancers, such as prostate cancer.
Trim Excess Fat from Your Meat
This is healthier for anyone who eats meat and also reduces fiery flare-ups that cause pollution and could even set your whole grill on fire. A good grill does not need to look like the Towering Inferno to give your food a lot of flavors.