Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: July is National Grilling Month

Consider food safety when cooking and eating outdoors.

The aroma of food on a grill and the scent of freshly mowed lawns signal summertime to me.

Even if mowing lawn is not part of your regular summertime routine, enjoying grilled food probably is.

July is National Grilling Month, so we have plenty of time to celebrate the great outdoors with delicious food, well into colder months.

Do you have an outdoor grill in your household? If so, what are your favorite foods to prepare?

About 100 million grills are present in U.S. households according to a major grill manufacturer. That adds up to 60% of households. In fact, one third of households with grills have multiple grills.

Further, if you live in Midwestern or Southern states, you are very likely to grill foods in the summer. According to survey research, we love to grill hamburgers in the Midwest, but steak is another favorite.

Are you the grill master or assistant grill master in your household? I am content bringing trays of meats and vegetables to my resident grill master to cook.

When food preparation and eating move outdoors, we have some safety considerations. For example, be especially careful when cleaning your grill prior to adding food. A wire brush can leave bristles behind, which could find its way into your food.

More than 1,700 emergency room visits occurred in the U.S. due to grill brush bristle injuries between 2002 and 2014. About one-fourth of those affected were admitted to the hospital.

Many tools are available to clean your grill from wooden grill scrapers to bristle-free brushes. Crumpled aluminum foil can be used to remove burned-on food after the grill cools.

Almost any food can be grilled. Depending on the grill, you can add a smoky flavor to pizza, vegetables and fruits, besides all types of protein foods such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb and fish.

Be sure to bring your food thermometer to the grill. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we should cook ground beef burgers to 160 F, chicken to 165 F and fish until it flakes with a fork and/or reaches 145 F.  Steaks and chops should reach 145 F, with a three-minute rest time away from the heat source.

A clean serving plate to retrieve the cooked food from the grill helps prevent cross-contamination and maintains food safety. If you marinate foods, keep out a separate bowl of marinade to serve with the food. Marinades that have touched raw meat, poultry and seafood contain harmful bacteria.

Consider these tips to include a variety of foods on your grilling menu:

  • Rinse produce and prepare for grilling. Remove the stems, seeds and cores from fruits and vegetables before grilling.
  • When preparing whole fruits or vegetables, cut them into slices unless otherwise specified.
  • Prepare bell peppers by cutting off the top and bottom of the pepper. Remove the core and then cut the pepper in half from top to bottom. (This way, you end up with two flat rectangles that are grilled skin side down.)
  • When using skewers, choose vegetables and fruits of like thickness and water content. Cut them the same size to ensure even cooking.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw meats and fruits or vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Take your time and be patient. You may think you are burning something and remove it before it is done.
  • Sprinkle wedges of apple or pear with cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar. Grill for about five minutes per side.
  • Brush peeled, whole bananas with canola or sunflower oil and add to the grill just until the fruit turns golden and has grill marks, or about five minutes per side.
  • For a fun alternative to the summer classic s’mores, cut a ¾-inch-deep slit down the length of an unpeeled banana. Pry the slit open and stuff with 2 tablespoons of chopped dark chocolate or your favorite candy bar. Wrap the banana in foil and grill for about five minutes on each side.
  • Grill peaches and nectarines for a side dish to go with steak or pork tenderloin. After cooking, the fruit can be diced and made into a salsa or relish by adding fresh herbs, chili peppers, and lime juice or vinegar.

For more tips, see the recipes and food safety resources at NDSU Extension (www.ag.ndsu.edu/food) under “food preparation” and “grilling.”  The North Dakota Beef Commission at ndbeef.org has delicious recipes, including “Grilled Steak Tacos with Poblano-Mango Salsa” and “Smoky Strip Steaks with Mexican-style Grilled Corn.”

One of my favorite side items for a grilled menu is corn on the cob. Although many techniques exist, this is one that we use.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Peel back the husk, but don’t remove. Remove the silk and close the husk back up. Submerge the corn in water for about 15 minutes. While the corn is soaking, fire up the grill. Remove the corn from the water and shake out any excess water.

Note: If you wish to season the corn before cooking, you can pull back the husk and add your favorite seasonings. Be sure to close the husks and twist shut before placing the corn on the grill. If using a charcoal grill, turn the corn every 10 to 15 minutes. For gas grills, keep the heat on medium-high and turn every five minutes.

The husks will turn brown and even may start on fire. Let them cook, turning the corn often. The water that they soaked in is steaming the corn from inside the husk. Corn usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes; after grilling a few times, you will get a feel for how long they need.

When done, use a tong to remove the corn from the grill (they are very hot!). Peel back the husks. You may want to run the corn under hot water to remove any ash. Some people eat their corn plain; others use a little butter with some salt and pepper. Others like Sriracha (hot) sauce. For a new twist, try mixing some olive oil with your favorite seasonings and brush it onto the hot corn.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – June 22, 2023

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7881, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu


Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.