Fire it up for the Fourth!
Backyard barbecues and cook-outs will be at the height of July 4 celebrations. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), 69 percent of Americans fire-up grills and smokers on the Fourth of July -- making it the most popular outdoor cooking occasion of the year.
In addition to friends, family and food, two key ingredients for outdoor cooking include common sense and safety. To ensure a successful Fourth of July celebration, HPBA recommends the following food and safety tips for consumers.
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HPBA Safety Tips
Before you light the fire for outdoor cooking, evaluate your grill, smoker or fryer and consider replacing it if you have rusted or wobbly legs, or if the manufacturer's safety guidelines are not being met.
- Position your grill, fryer or smoker in an open area away from buildings and high traffic areas.
- Never leave your grill, fryer or smoker unattended.
- Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings.
- Always use long-handled utensils to avoid burns and splatters.
- Be ready to extinguish flames. Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don't have a commercial extinguisher.
- Trim any excess fat from meat and poultry to prevent grill flare-ups.
- Turn food often with tongs to prevent charring.
- Do not press, flatten or pierce the meat -- flavorful juices will be lost and may cause flare-ups. Should your meat become charred, remove those areas before eating.
- Proper temperature is critical for cooking delicious, flavorful food. Use medium heat to avoid overcooking of charring meat, poultry or seafood.
- Before lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray on the grates. The protective spray cuts down clean-up time afterward.
- For charcoal grills, line the bowl with aluminum foil. After grilling, and once the grill and coals are cool, simply discard the foil with the coals and ash, then wash and reline with foil for next time.
- Squirt grease-cutting dish washing detergent on grill and grates (once cool). Scrub with brush or abrasive pad, then rinse. Repeat as necessary.