I’ll always remember the day when I received a phone call from The Bay saying that I had won a Jamie Oliver stainless steel cookware set. I couldn’t believe my ears. I felt truly blessed. As soon as we moved into our condo, I was excited to try my new cookware. However, after cooking a piece of meat using the stainless steel pan, I was horrified! The meat got stuck to the surface, and I couldn’t remove the brown and black stains. I thought I ruined my beautiful cookware. I remember running to the store the next day to find a product that can eliminate the stains and bring back the shine of the cookware. Beside buying the cleaning product, I also ended up buying a non-stick pan, which I felt more comfortable using. For a while, I used my non-stick pan to cook instead of the stainless steel one. Thinking back to that time, I wish someone could’ve told me or showed me earlier how to use stainless steel cookware properly.
Today, I’m glad to have finally learned how to cook with stainless steel cookware, because my food tastes so much better and I find cooking much more enjoyable. My friends have shared with me some of their tips and tricks, and I’ve learned through research of my own. I have also gained great insight during my cooking class at Atelier & Saveurs. Now it’s time for me to share with you what I’ve discovered, and hope to turn your kitchen nightmares into a more pleasant experience.
HOW TO COOK WITH STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE
There’s a reason why professional cooks like to use stainless steel cookware. Not only are they durable, but they make certain food taste better. I’ve tried to cook a filet mignon on a non-stick pan, and the flavor isn’t as rich as the meat cooked on a stainless steel pan.
The mistake that I had made before was to cook the meat shortly after the stainless steel pan is just a little bit heated. To prevent food from sticking to the surface, the trick is to pre-heat the pan first, and this doesn’t happen in a couple of seconds. Depending on the material of your cookware, it may take up to five minutes before the pan is well heated. To make sure the pan is ready, throw a few drops of water and see if the water forms little bubbles that run across the surface. If it does, it means you can add the oil (just a little bit, enough to cover the entire surface), and you’re now ready to cook the meat. While you’re cooking the meat, you’ll see some brown or dark stains starting to form on the surface. That’s normal, because the food is actually being caramelized, which adds to its flavor.
Although stainless steel cookware makes certain food tastier, it does require more effort to clean and maintain, when compared to non-stick cookware. But if you know how to clean it the right way, it won’t be too much of a hassle.
HOW TO CLEAN STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE
Even if your stainless steel cookware is dishwasher-safe, it’s better to wash it by hand. The dishwasher can hinder its lifespan and prevent it from looking its best. But if you still want to use the dishwasher, remember to use a soft cloth to dry the cookware right away in order to avoid water spots from forming.
Ideally, you should wash your stainless steel pots and pans immediately after each use or else it would be harder for you to remove the brown and dark stains later on from the surface. Always use a sponge and avoid using a stainless steel scrubbing pad even if it makes removing the stains easier, because it can scratch the surface of the cookware. Instead of using normal dish soap, I like to use baking soda to remove the stains. First, I soak the pot or pan in warm water and wait for a minute or two. I then rub the surface with baking soda and a bit of water. It works really well! Other times, I like to use the Lagostina Stainless Steel and Copper Cleaning product. It makes my cookware look brand new. I almost feel like singing, “They shine bright like a diamond”. (Random note: My close girlfriends would get this joke. They know how much I like to sing the song Diamonds by Rihanna, despite the fact that I don’t like it that much. It’s simply very catchy and has been stuck in my mind ever since the first time I heard it. There’s nothing I can do. Anything that shines makes me want to sing the song.)
For tougher stains, what you can do is pour water into the pot or pan and bring the water to boil for a couple of minutes. This will loosen a little the tougher stains from the pan. Then, with a wooden spoon, rub lightly. Remove the cookware from the heat and pour out the water. The stains can then be easily removed with baking soda and a bit of water.
To me, investing in a good set of cookware is important, because it’s what I use everyday to cook food, which goes into my body and as a result affects my health. I was blessed to receive a set of stainless steel cookware for free, because I know how expensive it can be. That’s why it’s important to know how to use a stainless steel cookware properly in order to maximize its properties and make the investment worth it.
If you’re in the midst of buying kitchen tools, I hope this encourages you to invest your money on things that will positively contribute to you and your family’s health. You may have to spend a little more money, but remember, the greatest wealth is health!
Anna Lou Chen
image source // Stainless Steel Cookware from Williams-Sonoma