When firing up your outdoor griddle it’s important to do so safely by adhering to these safely tips. Don’t let a family dinner or large get together be ruined by an accident that could have been avoided. By taking the necessary precautions you can minimize the chances of something bad happening and ensuring everyone stays safe and has a great time.
Using the proper tools will help protect you while cooking. Make sure you’re using cooking utensils that are appropriate for the job. Large spatulas, long basting brushes and tongs will help you maintain the proper distance from the cooking surface.
Wearing heat resistant gloves is recommended as this will protect your hand form the hot surface and any grease or oil that may be popping off of the flat top.
When cooking extra greasy foods (ex: bacon or burgers) be sure to clear off any excess grease while cooking using your spatula or scraper to help avoid this. Just like with any other task, make sure your bringing the right tools for the job.
Be mindful of the clothes you are wearing when cooking on your griddle. Make sure you don’t have any excessively loose clothing that can get caught on something or that will hang over the cooking surface while operating the griddle. I also encourage you to wear flat, slip resistant and close toed footwear such as sneakers.
You don’t want to wear anything that could make you more likely to trip or slip since you’re working with sharp tools around a piping hot griddle surface. I also encourage the use of a good apron to protect you and your clothes. This is coming from experience as I’ve had to get rid of more than one article of grease stained clothing before I started wearing an apron.
Though a fire is unlikely, there are precautions that should be taken to minimize the chances of this happening. It’s recommended to have 3 feet of distance of space surrounding the griddle. You don’t want anything that could be flammable within that circle of space near the griddle.
That could include (but not limited to) ceilings, walls, plants, fences and toys. Make sure there’s no excess and any grease collectors or grease traps have been cleaned out prior to cooking. If you have a significant enough buildup of grease then there is lots of fuel should a fire happen to occur. In the event of a fire, there’s something very important to remember. Do not try and put out the fire using water.
Since you are cooking with oils and the certain foods give off oils/fats you will be dealing with a grease fire and a water will only make matters worse by spreading the fire and making the situation more dangerous.
Your primary tool for combating a grease fire on your griddle is a fire extinguisher. Everyone should have at least one in their household so if you do not own one I strongly suggest picking one (and probably more) up for overall fire safety.
Another option for putting out the fire would be sand. This can smother a grease fire and extinguish it. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher I would recommend keeping a bucket of sand handy somewhere near your griddle.
Storage And Maintenance:
Where and how you store your griddle is essential for safety. Make sure the griddle has been properly cleaned before storing. Pick a dry and preferably covered place that protects it from the elements so it doesn’t rust or sustain any damage.
If you’re able to store it in a shed, garage or under an overhang that would be ideal. I also strongly recommend you have a cover for it to further protect it and especially if it’ll be stored outside. A heavy-duty cover protects your griddle from sun light, rain and dust and will extend the life of it.
To maintain the griddle flat top, you’ll want to apply a thin layer of oil after each use. Applying a thin layer of oil to the cooking surface will help protect the flat top from moisture and other elements which can cause rusting. This will also help to maintain the griddle’s seasoning.
The last thing you want is for any family or friends you are cooking for to get sick due to the mishandling of food. Follow these cooking practices to ensure everyone has a great time and doesn’t come down with a nasty case of food poisoning.
First and foremost, wash your hands before doing any food prep. You don’t want to be introducing any germs or bacteria to the food by accident because you didn’t wash your hands first. Also, if you handle raw meat or eggs, wash your hands afterwards before touching other foods or surfaces. If you are handling raw chicken and then touch some vegetables without washing your hands first, that could be bad news.
Raw food (especially meat) and cooked food need to stay separate. Bacteria may be present on raw food but killed during the cooking process. If you cross contaminate the cooked food with raw food you could reintroduce the dangerous bacteria to the cooked food. This also goes for any plates, knives or other tools that have come in contact with raw food. Do not reuse them once the food has been cooked unless they have been properly cleaned.
Marinating meats before cooking can be a great way to infuse the food with a ton of flavor. What’s important to know is that you do not want to reuse any of the marinade after the food is cooked. Once you remove the food from the marinade, throw out the marinade mixture.
If you cook the food and decide you want more of the sauce then use some that was not part of the marinade. If you use the reuse the marinade mixture on cooked food you’re taking sauce that’s had raw meat in it and smothering it on cooked meat.
Keep prepped foods at the appropriate temperature right up until you begin to cook. Keep refrigerated items in the fridge or be sure you have a cooler with ice to store the food in prior to cooking. You don’t want a plate of raw meat just sitting out in the sun for any extended period of time allowing for bacterial growth to occur.
When cooking with meat and fish it’s critical to cook them to at least the minimum internal temperature to kill off any harmful bacteria that may be present. This is even more critical when coking meat products that have been ground up or minced like hamburger meat or sausages.
Bacteria grows on the outside of meat so intact cuts of meat like steak will have bacteria only on the surface. Ground meat mixes all parts of the cut together so both the inside and outside will all have bacteria present making it even more critical to cook it to a sufficient temperature.
This chart will show you the minimum internal temperature required for different types of meat and fish products.
If you have leftovers it’s important to store them properly. Always allow food to fully cool before putting it in the fridge. Bring any unfinished food and let it rest in the kitchen till room temperature. Once it’s no longer warm you can wrap it up or put it in a storage container and then place it in the fridge. Do not allow food to sit out for longer than 2 hours before refrigerating.
People And Pets:
One last safety item you may not be thinking about is other people and animals. As we’ve covered the griddle surface is very hot when cooking. You may also have knives, grilling forks or other sharp tools around the griddle area. The last thing you want is a child or an excited dog running around the cooking area.
Try and maintain the 3 feet of recommended space around the griddle for both kids and animals. Children may be curious and unaware of the dangers of the griddle.
Be sure to explain to them how hot it is and why it’s important not to be near it or touch it. An unattended pet might want to steal a piece of food off the griddle if you’re not looking or if you leave the griddle unattended for a brief moment. You also wouldn’t want a dog sitting at your feet that could cause you to trip causing you to fall into the cooking surface. To be safe just keep animals inside or on a leash away from the griddle when cooking.
Cooking out on your flat top grill and hosting friends and family can be a great experience. Like any other cooking method though, there’s potential risks that need to be accounted for. You can help prevent any accidents and ensure everyone has a fun time enjoying your delicious food.