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Stovetop Cookware Care

Stainless Steel Cookware

The name "stainless steel" can be misleading. Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel can rust over time if not properly cared for. Rust will occur if the outer covering of the steel gets damaged. To avoid this proper cleaning and maintenance are required.

How to clean:

Use warm soapy water to clean pans.
Soapy water and a cloth or sponge is best to use to avoid scratching the surfaces of your pans.

For stubborn stains, use boiling water.
For stains that are baked on or that won’t come loose with just soapy water, try pouring boiling water in the pot or pan to loosen the stain.

Dry pots and pans immediately.
This prevents water spots caused by hard water. If the spots continue, try filtering your water to remove some of the extra minerals.

Use vinegar solution to get rid of hard water spots.
Hard water can cause problems for steel over time. To remove these stains use a 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water solution.

Things to avoid:

Minimize or eliminate the use of steel pads,
scrapers and other abrasive scrubbers. These nicks in the finish lead to rust over time.

Avoid bleach.
Bleach has a tendency to discolor steel.

When storing, if possible, avoid stacking.
Stacking the pots and pans can sometimes cause scratches. Hanging pots and pans is best, but if it isn’t practical, stacking will work.

» See all Stainless Steel Cookware

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum cookware is popular because it is light weight and is great at conducting heat. However aluminum is not as sturdy as stainless steel and like any piece of cookware, requires care. You can extend the life of your cookware by cleaning it properly.

How to clean:

Let it cool before washing.
Occasionally these pots and pans can warp if cleaned while still hot. Also cleaning a pan straight from the stove puts the person washing the dishes in danger of getting burned.

Use warm soapy water.
In most cases, all you need is a cloth and warm soapy water to clean your pots and pans.

  • Avoid cooking acidic foods.
    If most of your pans are aluminum, you may not be able to avoid this. Acidic foods such as tomatoes can stain your pans. It can also cause them to become pitted over time.
  • Use vinegar or white tartar solution to brighten aluminum.
    Mix either 4 tablespoons of white vinegar or white tartar in one quart of water.
Things to avoid:

Never use metal utensils.
Only use plastic or wood utensils. Metal utensils can scratch the coating and reduce its ability to be nonstick.

Do not soak in soapy water.
The non-stick coating can absorb the soap and make food cooked in the pan taste soapy.

Never use abrasive scrub brushes.
Any type of abrasive scrub brush can damage the non-stick coating the same way a metal utensil would. If you have difficulty removing stains, use a little bit of baking soda to loosen the food.

Non-stick pans have different rules for cooking and cleaning. The coating is not as durable as the metal below it, and requires special attention. If you choose to use non-stick over natural finishes, take good care of the finish.

» See all Aluminum Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron pans are inexpensive, incredibly durable, and ideal for use in a kitchen. Cast iron is an excellent heat conductor therefore the pans heat evenly throughout. It is safe to use on a stove, an open fire and in the oven. If maintained these pans can last a lifetime. The catch is that they must be taken care of or they will rust. Seasoning a cast iron pan is the most important thing and should be done before the pan is ever used. This process should be repeated after each use and cleaning.

Seasoning a pan:
  1. Coat the pan in a very light coat of a neutral oil.
    Vegetable oils work great for this.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Lay the pan upside down on the oven rack.
    Put a piece of foil under the pan to catch the drippings. Placing the pan upside down allows excess oil to drip off the pan instead of staying behind. If the pan is placed face up, the oil can gum up on the surface.
  4. Bake the pan for 45 minutes.

Some pans come with a factory season coating. Some people like to use this until it wears off, while others prefer to scrape it off and start from scratch.

By cooking food properly in the cast iron pan, you can reduce the amount of cleaning needed to maintain your cookware. Always preheat the pan. You want the pan to be warm but not so hot that it scorches food the instant you put it in. A good way to test is by sprinkling a little water on the pan. If the water bubbles and hops then your pan is perfect. If it evaporates, the pan is too hot.

How to clean:

Use soapy warm water to clean your pan.
Let the pan cool off before doing this. A lot of people believe that you should never wash a pan with soap. However, that is not acceptable in a commercial kitchen. Health codes insist upon washing with soap. It will not harm your pan, and it is ok to use if done properly.

Use a cloth or sponge to wash inside.
Never use abrasives. They create scratches and nicks that will cause your pan to rust.

Dry immediately after washing.
After washing the pan dry with a cloth to prevent rusting. You never want your pan to be damp or wet when storing.

Things to avoid:

Abrasives are bad for the pan.
They scratch the surface and cause the pan to rust.

Never ever soak your pan.
This can also cause rust.

Never store food in a cast iron pan.
Anything cooked in the pan should be served, or put elsewhere for storing. Leaving acidic foods in the pan can breakdown the seasoning in the pan. Also, the food will absorb the metallic taste.

» See all Cast Iron Cookware