How to Clean a Burnt Pot or Pan
When you’re just beginning to learn how to cook, you’re bound to burn a few dishes here and there. This is something even the most experienced cooks fall victim to from time to time. You should always keep an eye on your stove, as overcooking food not only renders it inedible, but it may also cause some serious damage to your pots and pans. Now that doesn’t mean you should immediately throw out your cookware and replace the scorched one. Here are some easy ways for you to clean your burnt pots and pans.
Add Soap and Water
The go-to for many people is to bring a cup of water to a boil or a simmer using the pan in question. You could even add some dish soap to the water if you’d like. When the water starts to bubble up, that means it’s loosening the burnt substances at the bottom of the pan. Use a wooden spoon or a nylon spatula to scrape them off. As much as possible, don’t use metal to scrape off the burnt bits since it can scratch your cookware. If you use metal on non-stick pans, it may remove the all-important coating that makes it so.
If you’re too busy to attend to your pots and pans at the moment, then you can employ what some like to call the “Procrastination Method.” This calls for putting a couple drops of soap into the burnt pan, adding a bit of hot water, and leaving it until you muster up enough effort to clean it out. What’s great about this method is that, aside from being able to do it on your own time, leaving scorched food soaking for a long time makes them extremely easy to remove. So maybe procrastination does have its benefits after all.
Use Something Acidic
If you have a more serious problem on your hands, and water doesn’t do the trick, then go for something a bit more acidic. You can use vinegar in pretty much the same way you used water in the last method to deglaze your pots and pans. Heat up whatever it is you’re trying to clean. To test if it’s hot enough, add a drop of vinegar and if it sizzles, add the rest of the cup. Let the vinegar simmer for a bit then use wooden or rubber utensils to scrape the bottom clean. Repeat as necessary until you get rid of every last burnt bit.
You could also use ketchup for milder stains. It’s not as acidic as vinegar, but using it also requires less effort. Just spread some on the affected areas and leave it for around 15 minutes. It would be better if you left the ketchup on for longer. Afterwards, simply wipe or scrape the excess condiment off. Once you’re done, properly dispose of the used vinegar or ketchup. Wash the pan with some detergent and then wipe it completely dry. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda if there’s a lingering scent. Wipe or wash that off completely as well.
Another way to remove burnt-on stains from pats and pans is with cream of tartar. Mix a tablespoon of it with one cup of water, and bring that to a boil. Once you’ve allowed the mixture to cool, scrub it using a gentle material like wood, rubber, or nylon. Again, avoid using metal utensils for scraping as much as you can to avoid further damage. Not only does this method remove burnt bits from pots and pans, it also helps in returning their lost shine. Try this method out and maybe your pans will look good as new.
Apply an Abrasive Substance
If what you’re trying to clean is made of stainless steel or enamel, then you could scrub them with baking soda. Don’t use this method if you’re cleaning out aluminum cookware. Once you’re certain about what material was used, make a paste using equal parts warm water and baking soda. Use this to scrub down the caked-on mess. Depending on how hot your pan got when you were cooking, the burnt bits will loosen gently or all at once. Using this method may take a little bit of elbow grease and a few passes to complete.
Another abrasive but natural cleaner you can use is good old-fashioned kosher salt. The bigger the grains the better, since they will be coarser. This is a great way to remove grease as well. Adding a few drops of dishwashing liquid and warm water will loosen up stains even further after you’ve scrubbed them down. You can also put some kosher salt on the flesh side of a lemon that’s cut in half and use that to scrub down your cookware. The acid from the lemon juice will definitely help in removing those unwanted messes.
Get Your Fizz On
If you’re not a fan of the effort that mixing, boiling, and scrubbing requires, then you can use effervescence to your advantage instead. One way to do this is by pouring club soda or generic brand soda onto the pan while it’s still hot. Leave it for a couple of minutes to do its thing then wash it off. You could also use alka seltzer for this. Just add one or two tablets to a pan filled with hot water. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing with soap and water.
A Miracle Worker?
This method may not be one that you were expecting, but you can actually use a dryer sheet to remove burnt bits from the bottom of pots and pans. The people who know about this trick actually consider it as a miracle worker for how well it works. Simply submerge the dryer sheet in a pan filled with warm water. This helps loosen out the scorched food at the bottom. The best part is that you can use the same dryer sheet, which has been soaking for a few hours to scrub down the pan and get rid of every last bit of burnt food.
You no longer have to live in fear of burnt food ruining your favorite pieces of cookware. You could use any one of these methods to quickly get rid of unsightly and unsanitary burns on pots and pans.