Stainless steel cookware is the standard for many chefs. While they cook beautifully and evenly, without proper care, these cookware items can become subject to conditions such as staining, warping, and mineral deposits. These tips will help make sure your cookware is clean whether it is after a weeknight dinner or a feast for the ages.
5 Benefits of Using Stainless Steel for Cooking
Kitchens around the world, both commercial and personal, trust the integrity of stainless-steel cookware. It is used in bowls, pots, pans, and appliances worldwide.
But just why is this material so beloved in the cooking world?
Here are five of the primary reasons these utensils are frequently used by amateur and professional chefs:
1. Recyclable. Did you know that the compounds that make up a stainless-steel cookware are entirely metallic? Iron, carbon, and other elements make up this cookware, which means that even when a pan is destroyed beyond repair, its components can be salvaged and reused.
2. Appearance. The stainless-steel look is clean and easy to maintain with regular gentle cleaning, such as wiping down or rubbing to polish. This can be done with a microfiber cloth and polishing rag.
3. Heat transference. These cookware materials often have copper or aluminum bases, which are great at conducting heat. These ensure an even cooking of foods with heat transfer across the entire cooking surface.
4. Flavor preservation. Other pans may have protective coatings or metals that can leech into the food, affecting the flavor. Stainless-steel products are designed absorb the metal texture, leaving your food to taste as it should.
5. Durability. Stainless steel cookware is notorious for being difficult to stain, rust or dent. It is dishwasher safe, can be stored in the refrigerator, and will handle temperature changes well. When properly cared for, these cookware items can last for years, which eliminates the need for replacements.
Importance of Routine Cleaning & Maintenance
When dealing with stainless steel cookware, regular maintenance is key to keeping the items clean and gleaming. Even so, messes are bound to happen.
Every time you are done using your cookware, scrape or wipe down any extra oil or cooking materials.
Important: You may begin cleaning the inside of the cookware, but always allow the cookware to cool completely before submerging it in water. The shock in temperature change from hot to cold can cause the cookware to warp.
Add some hot water to the pan to deglaze it – this will help remove any browned bits and it goes a long way in preventing permanent stains or discoloration.
Once these bits have been removed, it is safe to use a scrubbing pad or sponge to gently wash the inside and outside of the cookware.
While these sponges and pads will leave cookware unscathed, it is best to avoid highly abrasive materials or the use of steel wool.
How to Get Rid of Dark Residue and Food Stains
The most tried and true methods for cleaning stainless cookware is using vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap.
Using gentle dish soap and baking soda, make a paste and apply it to the cookware’s discolored areas. Leave the paste for several hours, then gently rub and wash.
If this does not completely remove the residue, try the next strategy:
- To remove more intense (or marks that take up a larger surface area) stains, gather 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
- Fill the bottom of the cookware with water, enough to cover the food or stain area.
- Add the vinegar and bring to a boil.
- Once the vinegar has reached a boil, remove the cookware from the heat and add in baking soda.
- Use a long-handled brush or scouring pads to swirl the mixture around and remove any residue.
- Empty out the pan, rinse it off, and wipe it down.
If this strategy still leaves your cookware with residue, it may be time to treat the entire pan.
Bring a pot of water (large enough to hold the cookware) to a boil.
Add baking soda to the water (at least ¼ cup) and submerge the cookware.
Turn the water to a gentle boil, and let the cookware sit for about 15-30 minutes, turning it over to ensure full coverage if necessary.
Carefully remove the pans (you may want to use tongs or protective gear), add another set of baking soda and water paste to the pan, and scrub again.
If there are small spots with residue, a toothpick can help clean these off.
How to Clean White Spots
Another common discoloration or issue that one may encounter with stainless steel cookware is a collection of white spots or grime on the inside bottom of the cookware.
These white spots are calcium deposits. These often come about after tap water (which contains small amounts of calcium bicarbonate) boils, and the bicarbonate isolates into calcium carbonate, which is chalk.
Therefore, as chalk does not dissolve easily in water or with oil, it is difficult to get these white spots or haze removed from the bottom of pans.
These spots are not necessarily harmful, but are unpleasant to look at, especially if you have new cookware.
Using the same materials to help clean off cooked food, calcium spots can be removed relatively quickly.
Add equal parts white vinegar and water to the cookware and warm over low heat. Allow this to cook for a few minutes, then discard the liquid, wash, and wipe down.
The cookware should now be clean and without calcium spots.
It is important to be consistent and gentle when working with stainless steel cookware.
Always wipe down cookware after washing to prevent rust and water spots, and remember to wait for a pan to cool down before adding hot water to it.
By regularly wiping down the materials and cleaning thoroughly, stainless steel cookware can last and look pristine for years to come.
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