There are arguments both for and against using aluminum foil while grilling. Grillers are often divided on this topic, sparking heated debates even before firing up the grill. For a long time, aluminum foil was considered an ideal way to store food. Grillers have embraced aluminum foil to prevent the formation of harmful substances during grilling. It’s highly heat-resistant and can be molded easily. However, studies have highlighted the drawbacks of aluminum foil.
The downside of aluminum foil in grilling is significant. Dripping fat from the food onto charcoal can produce health-damaging substances. Marinades and meat juices on hot coals create benzopyrene, a carcinogenic compound. This substance infiltrates the grilled food through the rising smoke, posing health risks. Knowing this, grilling with aluminum foil gained immense popularity among grillers. Grill trays are also popular, aiming to prevent or at least minimize the risk of benzopyrene formation.
Yet, for you, aluminum foil also means potentially ingesting released metal from the grilled food. High levels of aluminum in the body are suspected to trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have linked higher aluminum levels in brain tissue to this condition. Bone disorders, inhibition of brain cell growth, and other risks are associated with aluminum in the human body. Even in cosmetic products, manufacturers now advertise being aluminum-free. Something that doesn’t belong in the body ideally should not find its way into the stomach.
If you grill frequently, it’s advisable to seek alternatives. Grill accessory manufacturers offer practical products that make alternatives to aluminum foil easy. When storing leftover food after grilling, you might consider proper packaging in the refrigerator for later use. But beware, if you wrap it in aluminum foil, the aluminum can still leach into the food in its cold state. Aluminum is considered harmless in certain amounts: up to 1 mg of aluminum per kilogram of body weight weekly (BfR – Federal Institute for Risk Assessment). It’s important to note that aluminum is also absorbed through various other foods packaged in aluminum, like chocolate. Consider the responsibility, especially when children consume grilled food from aluminum foil. This applies not only to grilling with aluminum foil but also to lightweight metal grill trays.
Grilling Fish with Aluminum Foil: Alternatives to consider
For those who love grilled fish and want to prevent it from falling apart in the grill, wrapping it in aluminum foil might have been a common practice. A fantastic alternative to aluminum foil for grilling fish are fish baskets, available in various sizes and price ranges, not limited to fish alone. Stainless steel grill pans are perfect for grilling other foods like potatoes, vegetables, sausages, meat, seafood, and fish. They allow gentle cooking while still infusing the food with that smoky grilled flavor.Fundamentals of Grilling with or without Aluminum Foil
Maintain a decent distance between the grill and the food over the charcoal. A recommended minimum distance is around 15 cm (even when using aluminum foil). Many grillers tend to place the food closer to achieve a darker, crispier finish, but the same results can be attained at a greater distance with higher grill temperatures or longer cooking times. It’s healthier not to char the meat excessively. Furthermore, it’s advisable to avoid accelerants (such as spirit) in charcoal grills, for reasons far more critical.