How to Take Care of Your High-Quality Pots and Pans
Back in the days when you first moved out, you probably had cheap pots and pans that you gave little thought. After all, they were just part of some kitchen set, and taking care of them wouldn't have helped them last much longer. But now that you've been on your own for a while and have built a collection of high-quality cookware, you want to make sure you protect your investment– some of this stuff could serve you the rest of your cooking days!
With that in mind, here's how to take care of your quality pots and pans:
The material your pots and pans are made of affects how you clean and maintain them. For this reason, you should not only know and follow the materials used in your cookware's construction, but also the ideal conditions for those materials. Here's a look at common materials used to build high-end cookware:
Stainless steel cookware is often built with several metals. If your pots and pans are tri-ply, that means they have three layers. Often, the outermost layers are made of stainless steel and sandwich another metal, usually aluminum.
Multi-ply pots are considered high-quality because they have the features of several metals all wrapped into one tool. For instance, stainless steel reaches high temperatures and is great for searing and browning food. Aluminum distributes heat evenly to prevent hot spots and burning.
Enamel, ceramic– or porcelain-coated stainless steel pans are the Rolls Royce of nonstick cookware. Teflon pans can be dangerous when used at high heat, but ceramic-coated stainless steel is safe to use at high heat.
In fact, you can use the pans at high temperatures and they'll be totally safe for your food. More importantly, the construction is effective at preventing food from sticking.
Naturally stick-resistant, cast iron has a heavy-duty construction that lasts a lifetime. Cast iron can also impart extra flavor on your food.
High-quality pots and pans, no matter their construction and material, are fairly safe to use in whatever normal way you intend. You can saute on low to high heat without worrying about melting the coating. Where you really need to pay attention to your cookware is when cleaning. Using the wrong cleaning method for the material can do some real damage.
Stainless steel is prone to discoloration and burn marks, which is a shame given they're so shiny when you first buy them. However, if after repeated use, your pans have marks, you can get them to look like new. Of course, preventing marks in the first place is best.
Avoid soaking if possible, as the iron in some tap water can cause rust. Use a scrubbing pad and regular dish soap after using your pot.
You can stick stainless steel in the dishwasher. But if you want to get rid of stains, you'll have to do so by hand. Remove marks by cleaning your pots and pans with a stainless steel cleaning product, like Bar Keepers Friend.
You have to be gentler with ceramic-coated pots and pans, as their coating can scratch and chip. Avoid using steel wool to clean them– soaking them in soapy water to help release food is better than scrubbing with a harsh pad.
Also, clean your pans right away. The coating can soak up some flavor, and if the food is left too long, everything else you cook on it will taste like that one potent spice.
Cast iron is a unique product, which means cleaning will be a little different. Clean it immediately after using and do not let it soak, as cast iron can rust. Also, do not use soap. The metal is porous, meaning it will absorb the flavor of the soap, making all your food taste like a Dove bar.
Instead, scrub off food and rinse. Then, dry it completely and rub oil inside the pan, a step called "seasoning."
In addition to employing proper cleaning techniques, you should use best practices when cooking with your high-quality pots and pans.
Here are some tips that will help your cookware last longer and maintain its look:
- Avoid using metal kitchen tools, as they can scratch cookware. Instead, use wood or silicone.
- Don't cook acidic foods (like tomato) in cast-iron cookware. The acid can eat through the metal.
- Be gentle with coated cookware to avoid chipping the porcelain.
- Don't stack coated pots and pans on top of each other. Storing them in another way (hanging on hooks, laid on their sides) can prevent scratching and chipping
High-quality pots and pans are an investment, and taking good care of them can ensure they last you a long time.