I know for many Wild Chef readers every season is grilling season, but the rest of the world is just now getting fired up to grill. Cooking over coals (or propane if you must) doesn’t just happen at home; summer also means grilling in the great outdoors. Whether you’re putting the fire to fish, wild game, or tamer fare, either at home or away, here are five tips for safer grilling this summer.
1. If you’re picnicking, pack along a minimum of three gallons of clean water. When handling raw meat, you’ll need to wash your hands, and utensils, regularly — and you can’t always count on having water handy in the woods. Make sure to have plenty of paper towels, extra dishcloths, or moist towelettes along as well.
2. Have a couple of cutting boards at the ready so you can use a different one for meats and veggies. Same goes for serving platters and plates. Cross contamination is one of the leading causes of food poisoning.
3. Keep food cold. Bacteria starts growing at temperatures above 40 degrees so don’t pull the meat out of the fridge or cooler until just before you throw it on the grill.
4. If at all possible, thaw frozen meat — especially poultry — slowly in the refrigerator or, if you must, in sealed packages submerged in cold (never warm or hot) water. Thawing meat on the kitchen counter is an invitation for bacteria to thrive.
5. The most important grilling tool in your arsenal is a good, reliable food thermometer. It’s safer, not to mention easier and more reliable, than cutting into the meat (and losing all those tasty juices). Make sure to know the FDA’s recommended minimum temperatures for the meat your cooking.
Do you have any other tips for safer, and easier grilling this summer? If so, let’s hear them.