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Hello - I just received an Akorn grill as a gift from my wife. I have several questions as I'm used to using a gas grill. 

 

  • What's the best practice after the cook is done and the coals are out? Do I leave the vents open, cracked, or sealed shut? Should the lid and ash holder be sealed shut?
  • After the cook, should I keep the heat going and clean the grate? Or should I let it be and l
  • What kind of brush will preserve the cast iron grate? Or should I use something to clean it other than a brush?
  • How often should I season the grate?
  • Any other tips to keep it in good shape?

 

Thanks for the help!

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Anthony Welcome to the forum. I don't own akorn but I did talk to a rep from Akorn  several years ago and she strongly recommended removing the ash and  unburned charcoal from the ash pan. These will attract moisture and form a slight acid environment. Good luck with the grill. Did you read this?

 

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Here's what I do with my Akorn:

 

• First, I seasoned the cast-iron grid exactly as I would do with any of my cast-iron skillets. Lightly spray with canola oil, bake in the kitchen oven for an hour at 450ºF, then turn off the oven and let it cool overnight.  See this from Lodge cast-iron:  https://www.lodgecastiron.com/discover/cleaning-and-care/cast-iron/all-about-seasoning

 

• I start the fire with a propane torch and a chimney starter. After it begins to become "Vesuvius," pour in the hot coals and close the lid.

 

• I control my entire cook using a remote-reading food thermometer which measures both food and firebox temperature.  I bought a nice wireless unit at Home Depot for about $35 which tells me both temps in a remote device that I can carry in my shirt pocket.

 

• I do not rely on the dome thermometer at all, having found it to be unreliable. I cook the food to an internal temperature 10ºF below the target, then remove and "tent" in aluminum foil with the temperature probe still in.  The temp will reliably "coast" up the remaining 10 degrees.

 

• The usual grate settings are quite small.  In fact, I'm amazed that there could be a fire in there, except that my thermometer tells me that it is, and that it's burning steady.  Make slight adjustments, then wait.  The bottom vent is generally more important since that's where the oxygen comes in.

 

• I basically treat my grill as a charcoal-fired convection oven.  (If I want "sear," I do it before the cook on my kitchen stove in a cast-iron skillet using coconut oil: a good high-temperature oil that doesn't impart a taste to the food.)  I don't attempt "char" or "bark" because I generally don't care for the taste.

 

• By now, I know in advance exactly what the grill will do, and it simply does it every time.  I bring it up to temperature and the darned thing just stays there, even for hours, while I mostly ignore it.  (Could the Smokey Joe that you just threw away ever do this?  Uhh, no.)

 

• "Smoking" is easy: a bundle of smoking chips wrapped in aluminum foil with a few fork-holes poked through it, placed directly on the fire. The contents become reusable charcoal. You don't need to soak them first.

 

• Once the cook is done, I close all of the vents at once.  Next morning, most of the charcoal will still be there.

 

• Now, the "next-morning ritual."  Remove the bottom section, empty all of the charcoal back into the bag, discard the ash.  Now, scrub-down everything – wipe the inside of the firebox, remove all ash everywhere, use a kitchen scrubber and a little soap and water to thoroughly clean the grate of grease and food particles.  Wipe dry.  Start to finish takes five minutes.

 

• I store my grill outside as follows:  the bottom half is turned upside-down and sits on a few small wooden pieces.  The metal parts are inside.  A small pet-food dish sits atop the upper vent, which is slightly open.  In this way, water cannot get in, and even if it did it would just fall right out.  Even if I chose to store it inside, I would still follow the same cleaning ritual to prevent anything that might capture moisture, and anything that might go rancid.

 

• I have never, ever, seen "rust" in all these many years, although I look for it.  If I ever did, I would scrub it off the grates with a wire brush and re-season.  Or, spray the affected areas with heat-resistant spray stove-paint.

 

• Once the grate has been seasoned, it will continue to build up seasoning as all cast iron will.  You simply want to remove the food particles and burned bits, and wipe away excess grease.  A plastic or wire-bundle dish scrubber and a little elbow grease should work just fine.  A little dish soap won't hurt anything. Clean both sides.  The seasoning is actually a polymer layer which builds up over time, not a simple surface coating.  (See Lodge website link above, and other sources.)  Basically, "nothing sticks to properly-seasoned cast iron."  The seasoning will get better as you continue to use it – just like a skillet.

 

"Whew!"  Hope this helps!

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Thanks Mike, this helps a ton!

 

I realized I didn't finish my second bullet point: "After the cook, should I keep the heat going and clean the grate? Or should I let it be and clean the grate the next day?"

 

I'll try out your "next morning ritual." 

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Also(!) please "try out" the idea of "cast iron seasoning!"  The inventors of your grill could have simply used "stainless steel," yet they didn't. Instead, they intended to use "cast iron." Even though they did not "season it in advance," as Lodge now does, it is a very simple (yet, necessary ...) chore.

 

In my opinion, "keeping the fire going" is the default decision imposed by a "traditional" charcoal grill, very simply because there is no other option. 

 

"Traditional" charcoal grills are ... well ... uncontrollable.  (Yes, it may taste good, but every cook is a guess.)  Whereas, "the kamado system," regardless of exactly which "hardware" you use, is: "the complete opposite."   Here, you actually have control.

 

"Now that you have placed your former 'Smokey Joe' grill by the curb-side for your neighbor to pick up," :) things will be much better.

 

Since the majority of the charcoal [non-"briquettes!"] will be "left over," you should expect to re-use them.

 

Season the grate like any other piece of cast iron, then treat it the same way.  "Clean the grate," along with everything else, using soap, water, and a [soft ...] scouring pad.  Then, keep it clean. Along with everything else.  Treat it like any cast-iron skillet.

 

Personally, I think that one of the greatest advantages of this Kamado system is that the bottom section of the firebox is "removable."

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