It’s easy to make mistakes. Especially when you just didn’t know any better beforehand. That’s often the case when it comes to maintaining and caring for your pots and pans and various other kitchen appliances that you might keep in your kitchen.
Lack of knowledge about proper care and maintenance for your cookware set can lead to harmful damage over time. At worst, this can mean degrading pots and pans beyond the point of usability, and in lesser ways it can simply mean a poor cooking experience that results in uninspired dishes.
However, with a few simple tricks, any home chef can significantly extend the life of their pots, pans, and cookware. Not only will this keep your pots and pans from deteriorating and degrading, but it will also help keep them looking new and shiny, as if they just came off the shelf.
An Immediate Rinse
No matter what you’re cooking with the material, you might get in the habit of pulling your pots and pans straight off the stove and dipping them into the faucet. This could actually be the number one reason your pots and pans are suffering or failing sooner than they should.
No matter the material, whether it’s cast iron, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, non-stick or any combination of the above, going from flame to water is never a good idea.
Yes, this might make cleaning look easier, but what’s going on under the surface is the real problem. Pots and pans come with a heating element. Not the stove, or the oven, or the flame, but a layer of metal that can actually utilize the heat source.
In stainless steel and nonstick pots and pans, it is usually aluminum, although some manufacturers use copper.
As this layer of metal responsible for retaining heat, distributing it through the pan, and conducting it heats up, it also expands on a microscopic level. That’s fine, that’s how pots and pans are designed to work and that’s what makes cooking possible.
Once the pan is removed from the heat source, it begins to cool. An immediate pan wash drastically speeds up the cooling process.
While it may seem time-effective, this is actually detrimental to the underlying metal. The rapid temperature difference creates what is known as thermal shock. This sudden drop in temperature can create severe deformation of the underlying metal responsible for distributing heat during the cooking process.
In other words, this causes uneven heating and can lead to partially undercooked food and a variety of other problems in the cooking process.
Instead of grabbing a pot or pan and instantly rinsing it, let it cool to room temperature over time. Once you can touch the cooking surface with your palm for a full three seconds, chances are it’s cool enough to start rinsing.
This little trick will help keep your kitchen utensils in perfect condition and avoid undercooked dishes for you or your loved ones.
stainless steel kitchen utensils
Stainless steel cookware can also cause problems and shorten the life of your pans. This is most often because of the material the pan itself is made of.
Many pots and pans these days are made with a stainless steel finish. While the underlying metal is typically aluminum or copper as mentioned above.
However, the stainless steel finish is beautiful, modern and matches the look of almost any kitchen. Plus, it offers pretty easy cleaning, which is a selling point for most modern consumers.
That said, using stainless steel utensils against a stainless steel finish can really scratch, scuff, and eventually completely ruin the stainless steel finish of your pots and pans.
This also applies to other types of pans that have a delicate finish. Copper, for example, suffers a lot of damage with stainless steel utensils.
Abrasive Scrubbing Brushes
As with stainless steel utensils, abrasive brushes can do as much damage to your pots and pans as using hard stainless steel utensils.
In addition to scratching and scuffing the surface of the finish, steel wool can actually completely expose the underlying metal and wreak havoc on your pots and pans, no matter how durable.
Steel wool can even damage your cast iron pans and should be avoided in any pan cleaning setup.
Cooking above suggested temperatures
Finally, another common mistake home chefs make is cooking over too high a heat. While cast iron cookware typically offers the longest heat durability of any common material, it is the only one that can be used on the stove, oven, grill, and even over a direct flame.
Its high heat durability makes cast iron a great choice for specific dishes that need higher temperatures.
When using copper-based cookware, on the other hand, it is suggested not to go above medium heat on the stove, as copper is such an effective conductor of heat that it can start to warp.
In short, a new hybrid pot and pan set could be the solution you’ve been looking for, with easy maintenance and a stylish cooking experience that fits the modern lifestyle.