Ultimate Guide For Cooking With Stainless Steel Cookware

by Amanda Greenberg

Cooking with Stainless Steel CookwareKim has had her stainless steel cookware for a while but she is getting pretty frustrated. Yes, she loves the pots and pans she bought especially as they came highly recommended and even cost a pretty penny but she has not been getting the best performance from it hence her frustration.

Truth be told, Kim is not alone in this predicament. Maybe you are too, having bought all that cookware for the right reasons but getting the wrong output.

Ok, time to set a few things straight and hopefully point Kim and other lovers (but probably slightly unhappy) of stainless steel cookware in the right direction.

“I Can’t Get The Food Off The Pan”

Let’s just call this Kim Complaint Number 1. In reality, it is a universal complaint and many stainless steel cookware users have complained about having meat stuck on the pan or pot.

Well, before getting to the meat of the matter, it is important to highlight the fact that stainless steel offers that distinct attribute of not been reactive with foods such as to change the odor, color or taste. However, not all non-stick cookware can claim to be healthy for use but then as safe as stainless steel is, if the temperature is not ideal, the food placed on it will surely stick to it.

Happily, this is avoidable by simply getting the temperature right and there is an old trick to it. Start heating your cookware and when you feel it is sufficiently hot, drop a droplet of water onto the surface and watch for three possible reactions;

  • The droplet bubbles and quickly evaporates. This means the pan/pot is still too cold.
  • The droplet splits into smaller bits then evaporates. This means the pan/pot is almost hot enough.
  • The droplet remains as one and ‘dances’ around the pot/pan. The pan is hot enough.

Once it is sufficiently hot, the next step is to wipe off the droplet of water off and add the cooking fat/oil before placing the meat in the cookware. Getting this right temperature is important because the oil will smoke if the pan is too hot and if not sufficiently hot, could still cause the meat to stick, especially if it is cold. Such is the nature of steel.

“My Pan is Changing Color”

Kim Complaint Number 2. This happens when you may have been overheating your stainless steel pan or pots and appears like a combination of various colors, similar to a rainbow.

There are a couple of tricks to tackle this which are countering that effect with foods containing high acid content (tomato sauce is a great example), applying vinegar to the affected area and washing. Of course, there are cleaners manufactured specifically for this purpose.

“I Can’t Get This Stain Off My Pot”

Kim Complaint Number 3. Sometimes, stains may materialize as a result of less than careful use or application but it is not difficult to remedy as you can just use a cleaning agent similar such as Bar Keeper’s Friend which works very well for such situation when used in conjunction with a non-scratch sponge pad.

“There Are Some Rust Marks on My Pot”

Kim Complaint Number 4. While not everyone is a scientist, it is important to understand that when oxygen in water, chloride in salt and chromium in stainless steel all combine and react, such rust occurs in a pot. So if salt is added into ordinary water in a stainless steel pot, this rusting (actually known as pitting) may just occur. If you must add salt to water in your stainless steel pot, the water ought to be brought to a boil first.

Other Important Points

There are other important points that must be borne in mind when using stainless steel cookware. Allowing water to dry on the surface after washing would typically result in watermarks which do not affect the cookware but could be avoided by simply wiping once washing is done. Removing them however is as simple as cleaning the dampened surface of the cookware with baking soda and sponge then rinsing with water.

Experience being the best teacher, some chefs have recommended starting to use your stainless steel cookware by cooking foods that do not stick much such as sauteing onions, making sauces, oatmeal, frying steak and similar dishes.

Others have recommended seasoning the cookware (especially pans) first before use to avoid issues like sticking. This may be done by making a paste of Kosher salt and canola oil and covering the bottom and sides of the pan then heating until it gets very, very hot then take it off the heat and allow to cool then then wipe out the paste. Do a few times and your pan is pretty well seasoned and good to go!


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