In these days of September/October mild temperatures continue to be with us, allowing us to still enjoy our outdoor kitchen spaces. However, winter will come for sure and we need to be able to prepare our outdoor kitchen in the best possible way. Fortunately, in Italy we are not subject to very cold winters, so it will take little to adapt the spaces dedicated to the outdoor kitchen to the coldest season. Here then in a small guide in two parts all the advice on how to prepare this environment to face the winter.
Some suggestions on the main actions to be taken in maintenance
Here are a few tips for preparing you outdoor kitchen for winter, regardless of where you live. This includes seasonal maintenance activities that should be performed regularly to keep the kitchen functioning and in good condition, as well as ways to ensure that appliances and other functions are protected from the weather.
Add heating and proceed with maintenance
Although the climate is not exactly harsh, it will still be cold. Therefore, you might need to add outdoor heaters or a fireplace to keep your guests warm. Include extra lighting in the room to accommodate the shorter days. Furthermore, you will need to perform the seasonal maintenance of the outdoor kitchen and ensure that appliances, cabinets, grill and sink are protected and prepared for the weather. Well, so far it is clear. But what if you live in a place where winter is felt and there are also frosts? In this case there are additional steps you will need to take to ensure that your kitchen in the patio or in the garden can withstand the elements. In short, you will not put yourself in a position to fight against broken pipes, flooding and expensive bills from your plumber!
Clean the fridge and throw away the excess food
You will probably have less convivial time in your outdoor kitchen in the winter months than in the summer and autumn, so now is a good time to clean your outdoor fridge. Throw away the expired food, if possible compost wilted vegetables and use a cloth and a spray bottle with a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar to clean walls and shelves. If you keep baking soda in the fridge to combat odours, now is a good time to replace it. It is also the right time to vacuum the coils. If, instead, you do not plan to use your outdoor fridge during the winter, you can unplug it to save electricity. However, if you do this, the door must remain open, which can pose a danger to children and pets. Therefore, you will need to remove the door completely or find a way to barricade the area so that children and pets cannot access the fridge.
If you use wine coolers, do the following
If you are going to continue using your wine fridge or wine cellar throughout the winter, simply clean it by removing all the bottles (or keg) and cleaning the inside. If you are not going to use them, you can turn off the power, but you will have to treat them like the other fridges and figure out how to keep the door open safely throughout the winter without constituting a choking hazard for children or pets. As for cellars that will not be used during the winter, you should also drain and clean them to ensure that they are ready for use again in the spring.
Clean the grill and the pizza oven
Your barbecue grill and your pizza oven have probably been used a lot this summer, so start the winter season well by making sure they are clean and in good condition. After cleaning the grill and checking that is working properly, fill the cooking grates with oil to prevent them from getting rusty. You can easily do this by applying a layer of vegetable oil and then heating the grill for 15-20 minutes. If your outdoor kitchen is well sheltered, in a covered patio, you may not need a barbecue cover. If, on the other hand, your grill or your pizza oven is exposed to the weather or you just want to keep them clean and protected during the winter, buy covers designed to fit them properly.
Take care of the shelves and the suspended ceilings
If your cupboards and shelves are made of stainless steel, you can simply apply a polish specially made for this material to make sure they are ready for the next season and resistant to any trace of moisture. If, on the other hand, they are made of wood, make sure they are properly sealed so that they can withstand the wettest months of the winter. Now let’s talk about suspended ceilings. Those made of stone with paving stones are sometimes sealed. This is because in some cases a porous surface, such as paving stones, can benefit from sealing to prevent stains. We at OF can offer you advice on your worktops, as to whether they should be sealed or not. October is also a good time to clean up suspended ceilings and clean out cupboards. Throw away expired food, move unneeded food to your indoor kitchen and clean the shelves.
Do not forget to maintain furniture too
Most of the outdoor furniture is made to withstand the weather, but regular maintenance is needed to keep them in good condition. Metal furniture should be painted with a rust-resistant paint every two or three years, while wood furniture should be regularly sealed and all patio cushions will last longer if they are stored in a waterproof box during rainy weather. If you plan to use your furniture during the winter, consider buying covers to keep them clean and dry between uses.
Guarantee a cover for your kitchen
One of the best ways to prepare your outdoor kitchen for winter is to cover it. If it is within your budget, a permanent cover for the patio provides your appliances and surfaces with protection from all the outdoor elements. Moreover, it makes winter entertaining much easier and helps to keep your guests dry and comfortable. If a permanent cover for the patio is not within your budget, consider buying a canopy to cover the entire outdoor kitchen or a smaller canopy to at least make sure your grill has a greater protection from the weather.
Clean and control the heating of the patio and the fireplaces
Lastly, whatever heating or fire function you plan to use this winter, it must be cleaned and checked for proper functioning. It is essential to do this before opening the winter evenings.
How to prepare your outdoor kitchen for winter in places with hard frosts
The above tips for outdoor kitchen maintenance apply to people who live in areas that freeze and do not freeze. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below zero often enough to winterize the external plumbing, you should also prepare your outdoor kitchen for winter in addition to the above steps.
More importantly, you should prepare the water lines to prevent the pipes from bursting in case of frost. The first thing to do is to close the water line that goes to your outdoor kitchen. Therefore, you will have to drain the lines, which include the lines that go to the sink, to the ice maker and to the fridge. Finally, make sure that all drain valves are open.
If you do not plan to use your kitchen in the patio during the coldest months of winter, turn off the gas lines that go to the grill, to the pizza oven and to other gas appliances.