Cookware made of stainless steel is used by professional chefs from all over the world for legit reasons – its versatility, healthy benefits and much more. Although home cooks prefer non-sticks pans over stainless steel ones because of the ease of use, but it can be really dangerous for you in the long run.
Let’s be real, the frustration we experience while cooking in a stainless steel pan is undeniable as everything gets stick to the bottom. On the top of that, the availability and luxury of non-stick cookware made us worry-free, but that’s not a permanent solution. There are times when stainless steel pans are a necessity, especially for accumulating flavors, developing color, etc. In this post, we will share a few hacks to utilizing stainless steel cookware like a pro. Once you start using them, there is no looking back; guaranteed.
Benefits of Using Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel is considered as one of the best utensils used for cooking for its durability and undeniable benefits. Here are a few reasons to invest in the material:
- Durability – stainless steel can literally be indestructible, depending on the quality. It can last you a longer time, if maintained properly.
- Non-rustic – usually cookware materials can catch rust easily but that is not the case with stainless steel.
- Excellent cooking performance – no doubt, the material is number one choice of professional chefs.
- Easy to clean
- Requires less maintenance
- Lightweight and portable
- Non-reactive to acidic food
- Recyclable material
- Affordable in price
Why Food Sticks in a Stainless Steel Pan?
There are so many reasons behind this phenomenon; however, heat is the main culprit among the rest. Here is how too little or too much heat can spoil your food:
|When Oil Is Heated||When Oil is Cooled|
|Type of reaction||It acts as a barrier between the pan and food||The reaction will take place between oil and food moisture.|
|Why Does Food Sticks?||When cold food is added to hot oil, the moisture present in the food reacts with the oil. As a result, it gets stick to the bottom.||No sizzle upon adding food (even if it is warm), means it will accumulate.|
|How To Prevent?||Lift and flip the food immediately to prevent any deposits.||Preheat the oil and keep the flame medium to low as high flame can burn the food particles and the burnt taste will transfer to the rest of the food as well.|
Tips and Tricks to Cook In Stainless Steel Successfully
By following the given tip religiously; you will surely become an expert in using stainless steel utensils, and enjoy the health benefits it has to offer you. Have a look:
1. Keep The Temperature Low
Mostly brands of stainless steel offer multi-ply construction, which means that the bottom and sides of the pot will heat evenly. So that you can cook your food in more than one direction. However, make sure to keep the flame on lower side. For example, if the recipe instructs to cook on medium high heat; set your burner on 4 or 5 instead of 6 or 7.
2. Preheating Is A Must!
With non-stick cookware, it is suggested to minimize preheat timing, but the case with stainless steel is completely opposite. This is because stainless steel is porous when cold (you can’t feel or see it). The edges of pores cause the food to stick.
However, this issue can be avoided by preheating the pan as it allows the steel to close the pores by expanding, leaving a smooth surface for cooking delicious food. Once the pan is heated properly, add oil and continue like usual.
If you will add oil before the pan is heated, it is going to sit in the pores, causing food to stick to the point of burning.
3. The Right Way Of Preheating
Preheating is important, but the concern is for how long do we need to heat the pan? You are required to do is test for that:
- Heat the pan until its rims are too hot to touch.
- At this point, add a few drops of water.
- If the water droplets convert into a ball shape and stay like that even if you move the pan, consider it ready to use.
- On the other hand, if the droplets sink into the bottom, then wait for a couple of seconds and repeat the procedure until you are sure.
- Make sure to start with the medium flame and adjust later.
Stainless steel pans go from preheating to overheating in the matter of seconds. So, make sure to keep the ingredients ready beforehand.
4. Adding Oil After Preheating
As mentioned above, there is a right time of adding oil to the pot, else it will sink into the pores. Once your pan is preheated, pour oil in small amount as it will heat quickly and within 3 to 5 seconds, you will be able to add the next ingredients of the recipe.
If the pan becomes too hot (more than required), then it is suggested to either pull off the pan from the burner or switch off the stove to prevent burning.
5. Prefer Using Dry Food
When moisture is combined with heated oil, it can bring down oil’s temperature and cause sticking. For instance, if you are about to add freshly washed vegetables in the heated pot, make sure to dry them as much as possible with the help of a paper towel.
6. Don’t Use Frozen Food
Frozen food contains a lot of moisture and can cause the same issue as the last point. Make sure your ingredients are at the room temperature and dried beforehand.
7. The Right Time To Flip Meat
Followed all the mentioned steps? Now it’s time for the tricky part – adding meat. Mostly people panic when the meat sticks to the pan as soon as it is added, but there is nothing to worry about. Once the meat develops crust, it will leave the surface of the pan on its own so you can flip. However, if you have to use a spatula to lever the meat up, it means that the meat is not ready yet. Wait for a couple of seconds and try again.
8. Some Foods Just Stick
Even after applying all the tricks, if your food still sticks to the pan; know that some food items have the tendency to stick to the bottom of a stainless steel pan no matter what. Generally proteins and particularly eggs don’t come off easily. So, for such items prefer a non-stick pan.
9. Adding Salt in The Cold Water
Seasoning cooking water is essential for many recipes in order to flavor the food properly, like boiling pasta, rice or vegetables. Moreover, salt is used in all these dishes, and we being impatient always put salt in the water before waiting for it to heat. However, the practice needs to be unlearned.
Adding salt in cold water will actually reach to the bottom of the wok and stay there in the form of white dots, also known as salt pitting. So, wait until the water start bubbling because that is when salt will dissolve immediately way before reaching to the bottom.
10. Don’t Wash Them Immediately
Stainless Steel utensils can warp when they are exposed to intense temperature. The key is to, wait for the wok to cool down itself before washing and prevent using any type of faucet for the purpose.
11. Using Knife In The Pan
Have you ever tried to cut through the meat using a knife while it was still cooking? That’s the worst thing you can do to your stainless steel pan. It will not only leave a permanent mark on your pot, but will make it harder to clean. Besides, the blade of your knife may also bend or chip due to the very reason.
Either you want to cut a big piece or check whether the food is tender; always remove the chunk from the pan using a wooden spatula and earn the right to take it under the knife.
12. Say No To Metal Scrubbers
Never use a metal scrubber or steel wool for cleaning stainless steel under any circumstances. It can leave permanent marks and can scratch the outermost polish of the pot. In case the non-metal scrubbers don’t work, sprinkle some baking soda, pour some vinegar and leave the solution for a couple of minutes. Use a lemon slice or a usual scrubber to clean it. This tip works well for stainless steel sinks as well.
13. Don’t Rely On Dishwashers
Although stainless steel utensils are dishwasher safe, but they may get some spots. Here are a few tricks to avoid the situation:
- Make sure to remove any sort of solid scraps from the dirty pans and pots before loading them in the dishwasher to avoid clogging of machine.
- Don’t forget to check for the ‘dishwasher safe’ label. There are many qualities of stainless steel utensils available in the marketplace, and some of them might not be safe to use in the dishwasher. For instance, magnalite cookware shouldn’t be used in the dishwasher under any circumstances.
- Stack your dirty pans and pots on the side or in the bottom rack with messy-side-down.
The Right Way of Using Stainless Steel Cookware Like a Pro!
Stainless steel utensils are used by the professional from all over the world because of its diverse usability and the fact that the material is safe from health hazards. The only problem with the cookware is the sticking of food particles at the bottom that are hard to remove and can cause an unpleasant, burnt aroma in the dish. However, this issue can be resolved by following a proper way of utilizing stainless steel cookware. The above-mentioned tips and tricks will be useful for you to upgrade your cooking skills. Besides, practice can make you perfect in the game: if you can’t make something perfectly for the first time, try again. Happy Cooking.