Friday, January 10, 2014

Proper Care for Cookware

Image used by permission per Creative Commons Attribution License. Copyright by "Dinner Series" ( Editing (overlay & text) by Reviving Homemaking. 
   We have three main types of cookware: nonstick, stainless steel and cast iron. Each require attentiveness to care to maintain optimum condition and lifespan. Knowledge of this care my be common-sense, or it may be more of a matter of domestic education. My experience has been of learning through a few mistakes. I've scrubbed cast iron until it no longer had any coating (yes, *cringe*). I've also tossed nonstick skillets in the dishwasher. The former incident required lots of reseasoning. The latter resulted in needing to replace the pans after only three years of use. I didn't know then what I know now about caring for my cookware! The following is a simple set of guidelines regarding maintaining my specific sets of cookware. Perhaps they will apply to yours as well. Of course, it is best to check with the particular manufacturer of your cookware as not all cookware is made the same. 

      There are some foods that cook best in a nonstick pan. I find that eggs, for instance, will cook the best without sticking in a nonstick pan. Crepes are also easier to make in a nonstick pan. However, if the food can be cooked in another type of pan then I prefer to skip nonstick cookware. My greatest aggravation with nonstick is that it has to be handled very carefully and then may not last the full lifespan of ten years. My last pans lasted only three years, which is a painfully short time frame considering the financial investment for quality pans. Granted, I did not know then that nonstick pans should never be placed in the dishwasher. Before long, the nonstick coating began to wear thin. Continuing to cook with pans which had a less than intact coating was not desirable. We received two new high quality pans for Christmas this year, and I'm now well-versed on how to properly care for them so that they will last as close to the full ten years as possible! No more dishwasher!

General Use:

  • Do not rush preheating process by using a high heat. Start with a medium heat and then adjust as needed.
  • Use nylon, plastic or wooden utensils only
  • Cookware may be used in the oven up to 400 F, but never in the broiler. (Check manufacturer's recommendations as not all cookware is made to sustain oven temperatures.)
  • Allow pan to cool thoroughly before washing. Never immerse a hot pan in cold water.
  • Hand wash only. Never place cookware in a dishwasher. 
  • Never use abrasive cleaning pads or cleansers.
  • Clean the interior nonstick surface with a liquid dishwashing detergent and a nonabrasive sponge or soft bristle brush.
  • Clean the exterior (hard-anodized aluminum surface) with a liquid dishwashing detergent and a nonabrasive sponge. 
  • For stubborn spots on exterior, use Barkeeper's Friend cleanser and a nonabrasive sponge or soft bristle brush
Cookware should last at least 10 year if properly maintained. 

Cast Iron
    One of my favorite aspects of cast iron cookware is that is it more sustainable and naturally coated. It will last at least ten times longer than nonstick cookware when optimally maintained. Plus, it's neat to hear stories from family members of who owned each pan and the foods that were made in them. 
    My husband is well-versed in cast iron cooking and care. I, on the other hand, have had to learn through trial and error. My first cast iron cookware was a grill pan. I didn't know much about cast iron seasoning and so when I washed it after use I scrubbed and scrubbed. I thought it was a job well done to have removed all that coating. The shocked look on my husband's face said otherwise!
       I'm still not the best at keeping my pans in optimum shape for cast iron, but I've certainly come a long way! Getting into the habit of applying a thin layer of oil after each wash has improved their condition quite a bit. (I use coconut oil, but I know of family members who use bacon grease or shortening). 

General Use:
  • Hand wash only. Dry immediately. Rub lightly with oil of choice. 
  • Acidic foods like tomatoes, beans and certain sauces can damage seasoning, and should be avoided until the seasoning is well established.
  • Avoid using the dishwasher, strong detergents and metal scouring pads as they can remove the seasoning
  • In many instances cookware can be wiped clean without the use of soap (cookware is 400 F in only 4 minutes while over medium heat and is considered sterile at 212 F). If soap is desired, then wash in mild soapy water. Dry and rub lightly rub with oil immediately. 
  • If food begins to stick significantly, the color becomes dull and gray, or rust forms, then reseason cookware. Thoroughly wash cookware in hot soapy water with a stiff brush. Rinse and dry completely. Apply a thin layer of oil to entire surface of pan. Place sheet of aluminum foil on bottom rack of oven to catch drips. Heat oven to 350-400 F. Place cookware upside down on upper rack. Allow to heat for approximately one hour. Turn oven off and allow pan to remain in oven until cool. If
Cookware should last at least 100 years if properly maintained.

Stainless Steel
     A set of high quality stainless steel cookware is in my opinion well worth the investment. I didn't come into having a nice set of cookware until marriage. I previously used a rather cheap set, which suited my needs at the time considering I didn't cook much and couldn't afford much. That set was quickly moved out when we married as he had a rather nice set of stainless steel cookware. Quality goes a long way, especially now that we cook quite a bit each day! 

General Use:
  • Do not allow foods with high chloride (ex. salt) or acidic (ex. tomatoes) contents to remain in cookware after use. (This can cause discoloration or pitting). If you add salt to the water when boiling pasta or vegetables, allow the water to come to a full boil before adding the salt.
  • Cookware is oven safe to 400 F (350 F with cookware lid). (Be sure to verify with the specific manufacturer of your cookware). 
  • Start with medium heat and then adjust as needed. Prolonged periods of high heat can discolor or damage pans.
  • Personal experience- don't let your beans boil dry in the pan. It is ridiculously hard to get clean again. Haha
  • Cookware is dishwasher safe. However, handwashing is recommended to retain the original luster and shine. (Being the one type of cookware that can go in the dishwasher, I take advantage of this feature and skip the handwashing!)
  • Wash with warm water and mild soap. Use a soft sponge or nylon pad. Dry thoroughly. 
  • For stubborn stains, use a stainless steel cleaner such as Barkeeper's Friend
  • To remove baked on food, use a mild detergent in about one inch of water. Boil and then simmer in cookware for about 15 minutes. After cooling, drain, rinse and dry. 
  • Avoid soaking cookware in water for a long period of time, even if it's heavily soiled. (The chlorine and mineral content of the water, especially iron, can cause corrosion or discoloration). 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...