Basic Rules for Using and Caring for Nonstick Pans
There’s not a kitchen in the modern world that doesn’t have at least one nonstick pan. This cookware has effectively replaced some of the more conventional pans and pots because of their super-slick, non-sticking cooking surfaces. And while nonstick pan manufacturers have clearly made significant strides in recent years to improve the design of their products such that some can now be used with metal utensils, it is still imperative that you observe several basic rules that are fundamental to keeping the integrity and functionality of your nonstick pan.
Metal and Nonstick Pans are Never a Good Combination
Modern high-end nonstick pans that cost in the hundreds of dollars now come with scratch-resistant nonstick coatings that make them impervious against scratches. Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to purchase such expensive pans. As such, if what we have in our kitchens are those that are not diamond-crusted, it is best never to use any metal object on our nonstick pans. Metal spatulas, pizza cutters, metal knives, metal wire whisks, and any other metallic object should never be used on nonstick pans. You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you use wood, silicone, plastic, rubber, or nylon materials.
Non-Scratching Scouring Pads and Mild Detergents Work Best
Just as metallic cooking utensils should never be used on nonstick pans, you should also stay away from cleaning materials that are made of metal. These can include really sharp scrapers, metal scouring pads, and even steel wool. That being said, you may also want to avoid detergents that are made of harsh chemicals. A good option is a mild dishwashing liquid to help give your pan a nice clean. A stiff sponge or even a scouring pad that is safe for nonstick pans should be used in cleaning your nonstick cookware. If there is food debris that is quite stubborn to remove, you might need to deglaze it first to help ‘melt’ the food from its attachment on the pan. Alternatively, you can fill it with water and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before cleaning.
Sudden Changes in Pan Temperature Can Lead to Warping
If you’ve been cooking on ordinary pans, you have probably doused the hot pan with cold water immediately after use. Don’t do this with a nonstick as the sudden change in temperature from extremely hot to cold can lead to significant warping. If this happens, you may not be able to enjoy more even heat distribution across the surface of the pan. Instead, what you need to do is to let your nonstick pan cool down first before dousing it with cold or even tap water. Now, if your pan happens to be made of industrial-grade materials, then there should be no issue with warping.
Acidic Ingredients Can Cause Pans to Flake
This is one thing that almost every other home cook is guilty of. We’re not supposed to use our nonstick pans to cook any dish that requires acidic ingredients like citrus, tomatoes, and definitely vinegar, among others. Again, this is unless you have those ultra-modern pans that are built to resist the corrosive properties of acidic ingredients. Poor quality pans are subject to flaking. This typically results from the loosening of the mediocre nonstick coating of certain pans because of the chemical reaction that takes place between this coating and the acids from certain ingredients. So, if you don’t have a super hard-anodized nonstick pan, don’t cook with acids on your nonstick.
Clean, Dry, and Store as You Go
Have you ever watched professional chefs work in their kitchens? They all have assistants who will immediately wash their pots and pans right after using. We’re not saying you should hire a kitchen helper or a dishwasher. What we’re saying is you should clean, dry, and store your nonstick pans as you go. Don’t wait for leftover oils to get baked onto the slick nonstick coating of your pan. Oil spots and baked-on grease are often difficult to remove. As such you should wash your pans by hand and dry them immediately after use. When it comes to storage, make sure that there’s plenty of space in between pans if you decide to hang them. If you’re going to stack one pan on top of another, it is imperative that one pan won’t scrape on the cooking surface of the other.
Pans are Not Food Storage Solutions
Pots and pans are designed specifically to cook the food that will nourish and satisfy you and your family. They are never intended as food storage. While it may sound improbable that the nonstick coating will impart a distasteful effect on your food, it is best not to use your nonstick as a food storage solution. There are specific food storage containers for such a purpose. Use them; not your nonstick pan.
Be Tame with the Heat
A good number of nonstick pan manufacturers provide heat tolerance levels in their respective labels. This means that for any given pan, it should never be subjected to temperatures higher than the one printed on the label. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers put such information on their labels. In such instances, it may be wise to play it safe by not using the pan on any heat source that exceeds 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Do take note, however, that some pans can withstand temperatures as high as 450 degrees or maybe even higher. Subjecting your nonstick pan to temperatures higher than its limit can lead to warping. There is also the possibility of its nonstick coating to start forming bubbles until they pop and ruin everything. As such, pay special attention to the temperature rating of your nonstick pan if ever it comes with it. If not, then don’t go higher than 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Caring for your nonstick pan is pretty straightforward. The goal here is to maintain the integrity of the nonstick coating. Once this has been degraded, you’ll be left with just another ordinary pan that you may never really use again.