LET US SHOW YOU HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAAI!
Even though Autumn is on its way, having as many braai’s as possible is what every South African needs to be taking advantage of before the chilly winter arrives. There is perhaps no better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying the weekends with friends and family in front of the fire. Yet as we know, a braai is an investment and like any cooking appliance, needs to be well-looked after whether a charcoal or a gas braai. Braais often have a long lifespan, but this may not be the case if you do not clean and maintain yours regularly. Plus it can be very inconvenient when you bring the grill out and realise that it’s not as clean and ready to use as you would like it to be. There are really simple steps which you can take to ensure your braai’s longevity and performance and to always be ready for entertaining.
Here are our easy braai maintenance tips on how to care for your braai and keep it in tip-top shape for many successful years of clean and safe cooking.
MAINTAINING A CHARCOAL BRAAI
Clean your braai regularly. Keep your braai clean and stowed under shelter to preserve its metal parts and prolong its overall longevity. Store a non-abrasive braai cleaning agent with a grill cleaning brush and a sponge next to your braai for easy cleaning. The braai cleaner will break up the grease on the grid and the brush and sponge will allow you to reach the more difficult spots. Rather wait for the cooking coals to first cool off and die out before cleaning the warm cooking grid, and then scrub off any remaining bits with the brush. Ensure that you properly rinse and wipe after cleaning with any chemicals to avoid any toxic matter transferring onto your food when you next use it. For built-in braais, first disconnect the unit’s compartments and move it to a sufficient area to clean it.
Prevent metal from rusting. If you choose to clean your grill with soapy water after cooking, then thoroughly rinse and dry it straight away as this will prevent it from developing any rust. When you are not using your braai, it should be kept in a clean, dry and protected area undercover and away from environmental elements. Invest in a weather and waterproof braai cover if it did not come with it when you bought it. Most brands make their own covers which you can purchase separately.
Remove cold coal ash. After you are done cooking, make it easier for you for the next time by removing the cold ashes at the bottom of the kettle of your charcoal braai. An excessive build-up of ash can block the air vents and cause airflow issues that will make it more difficult to control the temperature of your grill. It is important to empty the bowl regularly because ash also absorbs moisture which can result in rusting the inner components too soon. Additionally, avoid chucking water over the hot coals to cool them down after cooking as this can create a quite an unnecessary mess.
Don’t paint or polish your braai lid. Your portable braai has a baked-on porcelain enamel finish that is glossy and is permanent, so there is no need to touch up with any paint or use any wax products on it. When the grill becomes heated, this wax will only streak down so rather just wipe the lid with some soapy water to clean it and make sure to never use any scratchy materials on the outside of the unit as this will leave scratch marks. You can spray the outer surface of your braai monthly with an anti-corrosion agent to protect it. Lastly, always remember to clean the inside of the lid as it gets quite greasy and smoky and these particles can flake off onto your food if enough grime is accumulated.
MAINTAINING A GAS BRAAI
Clean it regularly. The same procedure applies for a gas braai as any braai. A gas braai requires to be cleaned regularly with a grill cleaning brush and braai cleaner. Give a brief cleaning after each use and a thorough cleaning every few months when grilling frequently. We suggest cleaning the braai grill just after preheating it as this will allow food and residue to come off more easily. This muck can build-up a lot faster than you think. Additionally, you can burn some of the surplus grease by switching on the grill on high heat for 20 minutes a couple times a month to ensure that build-up disappears faster and less cleaning power is needed.
Wash the burner protectors. Prevent your burner mechanisms from getting dangerously congested with grease by correctly protecting them and giving them a good wipe down. It is essential for a gas braai to have a properly functioning grill. Even though they are meant to collect the grease, if they are not regularly washed they can eventually block the burner completely. Before cleaning, remove your heat collector panels and grills and wash these individually, plus grills are dishwasher friendly nowadays.
Change your drip trays often. After wiping the burners, keep your drip trays free from fat build-up by pulling out the dirty plate underneath and giving them a good wash. Veggies can fall to the bottom and marinades can splatter without you even knowing. These trays fit your catch pan under the bottom plate and cleaning these needs to be done quite regularly. If you allow your drip-trays to accumulate too much fat, it can self-ignite while you are cooking and cause a hazardous fire. We suggest cleaning these comprehensively every few months, which will also keep flies at bay and avoid any sanitation issues.
Cover your grill. Protect your grill from the elements and keep it covered when not in use. Keep your connected gas braai out of any direct sunlight and never near a source of heat. If you live in a coastal area, your braai is more prone to get surface spots from the salty particles in the air. Therefore don’t allow it to rust and gather dust and dirt by incorrectly storing it as these factors all can ruin your beautiful braai.
POTJIE POT MAINTENANCE
It’s important to also take care of your cast iron potjie too. Don’t forget to clean and dry your potjie thoroughly before storing it to avoid rusting. Instead, store it with crumpled up newspaper inside which will absorb unwanted moisture and keep it from rusting. Your pot should last a lifetime.
Maintain these few easy steps to make your braai last you many years of fun entertaining and great food.