Our family cooks outdoors year-round. We live in the sunshine capital of the Rockies so we have many warmer days even in the midst of the winter months. I'm able to fire up the griddle and cook dinner on our back porch several times each winter. Many of you cover your griddle and put it away for 6 months each year. You've waited all winter for a delicious backyard burger. The temperatures are finally starting to go up and summer is right around the corner! You've just removed the cover from your griddle and now you should take a few minutes to make sure your griddle is still in tip top shape. It's also a good time to check your griddle tools, restock on seasonings, and prepare for new & exciting recipes!
Get it Together
Unless you store your griddle spatulas, scrapers, oil bottles, and seasonings in the same place, you'll want to begin your annual household search for these very important items. Perhaps you want to purchase a sleek new spatula to start the year off. Maybe you've only ever used salt and pepper to season your food. If you need a suggestion for something new, my favorite burger seasoning is made by Hi Mountain Seasoning. It's called Hickory Burger Seasoning. It comes in a small bottle and sells for less than $5.00 at most major sporting goods retailers in the US. If you've been guessing whether your meat is fully cooked, you might consider picking up a meat temperature probe. Blackstone also offers a Griddle Tool Kit available at BlackstoneProducts.com. For about $34.99, you'll get 2 griddle spatulas, 2 liquid containers perfect for your favorite griddle oils, 1 food chopper/griddle scraper, and a cookbook sampler with a few popular Blackstone recipes!
First off, make sure your propane tank is full. There's nothing worse than starting a cookout for the family only to be stopped when your tank runs out 5 minutes into the season. You only have to sit and look at cold, soggy burgers sitting on your griddle once before you vow to not make that mistake again.
It takes a Spark
Another easy pre-season checkpoint should be your griddle's ignition battery. I haven't changed my ignition battery in a few years. It just keeps going and going! However, it will eventually run down. If you haven't changed your battery in a while, it's worth it to put a new one in at the start of the season. For less than a dollar, you'll have the piece of mind to know that your electronic ignition button isn't going to quit working the moment your guests show up for the 4th of July cookout!
Next, you should look under and in your griddle to make sure no critters used your Blackstone as their home for the holidays. If your burners appear dusty or you notice the appearance of spider webs, take a few minutes to clean. You can use an air compressor or a can of compressed air to blow out your burners and the rest of the area under your griddle top.
If you play with fire, you're going to get burned
It's also important to remember that with griddling, you're playing with fire. Check your hose. Check the end that is crimped to the regulator (the part that attaches to the propane tank). Make sure everything looks normal. Inspect the length of the hose for cracks as well. Finally, check the nut that attaches the hose to your burners on the underside of your griddle. If that nut has come loose for some reason, you can have both a propane leak and a fire on your hands. It's a good idea to tighten the nut with a wrench to ensure you won't have a leak.
Now you can completely open your LP tank by turning the hand wheel clockwise until it stops. If you hear anything that sounds like high-pressure air leaking, immediately close the valve. If you feel that you do have a fuel leak, you can use soapy water to find out where the leak is located. If you have a crack in your hose, the air will blow small bubbles at the area where the crack is located. In the event of a cracked hose or regulator, make sure you replace the part before attempting to use the griddle.
If your griddle's fuel system passes inspection, turn the ignition burner knob to the high position. Press and hold the electronic ignition button until the burner lights. After the first burner lights, turn the rest of the burners to high in sequence until all burners are burning.
Prepare a safe Griddling area
Since you haven't used your griddle in awhile, make sure there's safe clearance around the griddle. Be sure your griddle isn't resting against an outside house wall, piece of furniture, or anything plastic. Also, make sure that your griddle is level. A level surface assures that oils & grease don't pool up in the corners of your griddle top. If a level surface isn't available, take a few minutes to level your griddle legs and wheels with thin pieces of wood or cardboard.
'Tis the season
Use your scraper to clean off any food or foreign residue from your griddle top. The griddle top is made of cold rolled steel. It can rust if it is exposed to the elements for a prolonged period of time. Don't worry though as it will never rust through completely. You can wipe off most surface rust with a cloth or scrape it off with your scraper. Season your griddle top well with oil, wipe clean, and season again. If you need a quick tutorial or reminder on how to season your griddle top, these videos cover the important points: Seasoning & Care Of The Blackstone Griddle Top
and Griddle Top Recovery and Seasoning
Keep it Clean
You don't have to worry about sanitizing your griddle top. The scorching hot temperatures will take care of any germs within a few minutes of first operation. It's also a good idea to use a degreasing soap and water to clean your bottom tray and side shelves once in a while. You've made the investment in a Blackstone Griddle, so make sure you keep it looking sharp!
Get out there and Griddle
If you're looking for a few new griddle recipe ideas, follow Blackstone on Facebook
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Many operational and safety-related questions are answered in the Blackstone Griddle Product Manuals. They are included with each new unit and are also available for free download at BlackstoneProducts.com.
You can extend the life of your griddle and assure its maximum performance by taking the time to inspect and clean it from time to time. Outdoor griddle cooking can set your cookouts apart from the norm. There's nothing like a perfectly seared griddle burger and bun. Most of all, be safe, be creative, and have a wonderful griddle season!