Clamshell Griddles: Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Clamshell griddles, also commonly referred to as double-sided grills, have become critical to the foodservice industry, in part because they help operators expand their menus. Foodservice operators can choose from small tabletop panini grills to larger high-production floor models. These come in all shapes and sizes, are available in gas or electric, and have various cooking surfaces from stainless steel to glass ceramic.

To prolong their service life, clamshell griddles require regular maintenance and cleaning. Given that grilling surfaces vary, following the manufacturer’s specific cleaning and care instructions helps extend the service life of these units.

Here, Bruce Hodge, president of General Parts & Service, Bloomington, Minn., provides several tips to help extend the service life of a clamshell griddle.

  • Do not let grease build up and carbonize, which makes it difficult to remove.
  • On metal surfaces, remove excess grease and food regularly with a wide, sharp scraper with rounded corners. Following the scraping, use a damp cloth and manufacturer-recommended nonabrasive cleaner to wipe the surface clean. Be sure to wipe the control panels with a soft cloth.
  • When using release sheets, frequently wipe them down with a damp grill cloth. The same applies to the platen edges. Never let the grill go for extended periods of time without cleaning.
  • Remove and clean all grease-catching drawers or troughs at least once per day.
  • Do not let the food cook onto the grill as the buildup will increase sticking and smoking. Additionally, carbon may build up on the grill surface and reduce cooking efficiency.
  • Do not hose down the grill or use ice or cold water to clean the cooking surfaces when the unit is hot. If the surfaces are cast aluminum or cast iron, they may crack or deform under the shock of rapid temperature change. Never immerse the grill in water.
  • Grills may need re-seasoning after cleaning.
  • Each day, apply a drop or two of a nontoxic
    mineral oil to the hinges. Also, inspect any conduits, hinge springs and piston-driven lids, and verify these remain in good working order. Check lid bolts, nuts and screws, and tighten if necessary.
  • Never use pumice, griddle stones or abrasives on a chrome surface. Also, do not use steel wool, and be careful not to strike the surface with a sharp instrument or metal edge.
  • Ceramic and/or glass cooking surfaces require
    different cleaning procedures, and it’s just as essential that the specific manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions are followed. Typically, operators should clean these surfaces with a cloth; warm, soapy water; and a manufacturer-suggested nonabrasive cleaner.
  • Each year, have clamshell griddles checked and calibrated for even cooking as well as critical component functionality. If repairs reach or exceed 25 percent of the cost of a new unit, consider replacing it.