Wood pellets a natural for grilling


June 18, 1994|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Special to The Sun

Q: I heard that new natural wood pellet barbecue grills make foods taste better and burn cleanly.

Do they cost more to operate than gas or electric models and what else is new in efficient barbecues?

A: New wood pellet barbecues are convenient and efficient. By cooking over 100 percent real wood (renewable energy), you get authentic campfire flavor.

Pellets are available in mesquite, cherry, hickory, alder and maple for unique flavors.

Pellet barbecues incorporate a small built-in auger and blower, but they look like typical gas barbecues. They use very little electricity and a small 10-pound bag of pellets should last for five cookouts.

A small hopper holds several pounds of 1/4 -inch-diameter-by-1-inch-long wood pellets. The auger slowly feeds the pellets to the grill burner area.

The auger speed is adjustable to control the barbecue temperature and smoke flavor.

The blower circulates air through the pellets for a hot, pollution-free fire. This also circulates air around the food for true smoked flavor. You only have to heat it for about five minutes before grilling food.

There are new super-efficient, futuristic-looking, domed electric barbecues. These full-sized barbecues have a double-wall, insulated cover and use corrosion-resistant aluminized steel to retain heat. They use less electricity than a typical hair dryer.

Heating elements are built into the nonstick grill surface so there is less than a 25-degree temperature variation across it. This allows you to use the entire grill surface and reduce total cooking time.

The circular domed top also creates natural air circulation inside to enhance flavor.

Other features to consider are an adjustable top vent that provides precise control over the temperature and flavor.

Smokers, with a water pan/steam heat feature, keep meat tender with added smoked flavor. An aluminized steel shell is also efficient when used on gas barbecues.

A built-in drip vaporizer over the burners reduces flare-ups and -- improves the taste of the foods. A new "behind heat" (instead of under) rotisserie burner roasts foods with less burnt taste and half as much gas.

Write for Utility Bills Update No. 642 showing 17 manufacturers of new real wood pellet, electric and gas barbecues.

Mail $2 and a self-addressed envelope to: James Dulley, The Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244

Q: I am trying to make my old house more airtight by installing draft sealing foam gaskets in my wall electric outlets.

The package says that I should put them in all the wall outlets. Is this correct?

A: You should only put them behind the outlet faceplates on outdoor walls.

Most builders do not seal around the conduit boxes during construction and this is one of the major areas for air leaks.

Little outdoor air, if any, should get into the interior walls of your home, so the draft sealers are not needed behind those outlet faceplates.

Even though installing gaskets is a simple job, any time you remove a electrical outlet faceplate, switch off the circuit breaker first.

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