The Sweet Way To Prevent Citrus From Sticking To Your Grill

Although springtime is unofficially the start of grilling season, outdoor cooking can be done year-round if you've got your big boy pants on and can handle the cooler temps. Grilling is an invaluable tool for lower-fat, quick meals that benefit from the flavors delivered from cooking over an open flame. While meat is an obvious choice for the grill, becoming smokey and browning due to the Maillard reaction (the chemical process that transforms amino acids in proteins to create new smells, colors, and depth of flavor), more delicate food, like fruits and vegetables also benefit from this cooking method (per Science of Cooking).

Grilling with moderately high temperatures over direct heat transforms unripened, firm fruit into sweet, juicy desserts. Every type of fruit can be grilled. While larger fruit like watermelon and pineapples and firm stone fruit like peaches, plums, and nectarines are easier to grill, small berries are also a delicious option (per Martha Stewart). Grilling fruit caramelizes its sugars, making it sweeter and breaking down its structure, making it softer. Slightly unripe, firm fruit performs better and holds up to high temps, while ripened fruit will get mushy and fall apart, disappearing beneath the grates. Grilling is an excellent solution for bland, out-of-season fruit.

November through March is citrus season, when markets are bursting with lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines, adding brightness to these drearier days. Coax the most out of your citrus by grilling them with our cooking tips.

Sugar the citrus before grilling

Grilled fruit is a sophisticated addition to many dishes. Beyond a sweet end-of-the-meal treat, grilled fruit compliments grilled cuts of meat like pork topped with a sweet, smokey fruit like grilled pineapple or peaches. Use grilled fruit like mango to make salsa, or how about grilled bananas over softened scoops of vanilla ice cream?

When you grill citrus, the bitterness in the rind mellows, making the pulp and the peel edible, per Cooking Light. Mixologists appreciate the smokiness of grilled lemons and limes when garnishing cocktails. According to AllRecipes, to keep citrus from sticking to the grate, sprinkle the cut ends with granulated sugar before grilling. The heat will melt the sugar and caramelize it, preventing the fruit from sticking to the grill. The caramelized sugar gives the fruit a beautiful glossy sheen that compliments the fancy grill marks. Grilled, caramelized citrus is an excellent addition to desserts and looks gorgeous on decorated cakes.

Successful grilling begins by preparing the grill to minimize the risk of food sticking. This is especially true for delicate fruit that can easily rip. Begin with a hot, clean grill lightly rubbed with a neutral-tasting oil like safflower or vegetable oil. No matter what you are cooking, once you put the food down, avoid touching it for a few minutes. Give the food enough time for the surface to sear, getting its tan lines; then, it will release on its own without tearing.