Cooking With Stainless

Stainless steel has long been a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike thanks to its excellent versatility. Few other materials can go from stove top, to oven, to a sink full of sudsy water, all the while providing even heat distribution and conductivity.

… But every rose has it’s thorn, am I right? Stainless steel’s got one hell of a thorny edge when it comes to food sticking, but we’ve learned that with the proper foundation and knowledge of cooking with stainless steel you’re much more likely to get the results you crave (ha ha).

Pre-Use
Wash before use

After purchasing your new stainless steel cookware set, make sure to give those bad boys a good wash in warm, soapy water. Adding a 1/4 of vinegar is a nice touch as well. Either way, just make sure to remove all the potential debris that has accumulated during sale and transit. The vast majority of stainless steel is dishwasher safe but we like to hand wash ours to keep them in tip top shape for as long as possible. Who doesn’t love a nice, shiny set of pots and pans? Swooooooon!

Don’t Go Heat Crazy
pot-820012_1280
Depending on what type of cookware you are accustomed to using, you’ll have to adjust your cooking style accordingly. Cooks who are accustomed to cast iron, a material that is known for its sloth-like pre-heat period, may have to fight the urge to crank the heat up. Similarly, if you’re kitchen is stocked with non-stick cookware, the liberal use of oil or butter may initially shock and awe you and your cardiovascular system. Get over it folks, this is the land of stainless steel.

For all intents and purposes, you’re never going to want to crank the heat up past medium high. Stainless steel is an excellent heat conductor and just doesn’t need that much power behind it, plain and simple. Doing so may cause irreversible stains and discoloration, not to mention the havoc it will wreck on your grilled cheese, quesadilla, or pancake breakfast.

Stay away from metal on metal
Wooden spoon
In a perfect world we’d remove our makeup every single night, engage in 150 minutes of high intensity cardio every week, and refrain from ever using metal utensils on our stainless steel cookware. Like we said, perfect world. That being said, if you could be so kind to your stainless steel cookware and keep to wood, rubber, and silicone utensils 80% of the time, you’ll be in good shape. Metal utensils can cause scratches and while this is mainly cosmetics, deeper marks can contribute to sticking. Best to avoid if possible.

How To Choose The Right Cookware For You

At Cookwareconfidential, you know we like to keep things as easy as possible. Here’s our no-frills guide to help you choose the best cookware for you.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless Steel Cookware

The most popular type of cookware on the market, stainless steel is durable, non-reactive, and relatively affordable. While stainless steel’s heat conductivity leave much to be desired, the best stainless steel cookware sets get around this by layering aluminum or copper in between the stainless steel interiors and exteriors.

 

Copper Cookware 

Copper Cookware

This is the fancy stuff, guys! What looks more kitchen chic than gorgeous copper pots and pans hanging from your Williams Sonoma pot rack (above your Viking range, next to your Subzero fridge… you get where we’re going with this, right?). In addition to being super chic and sexy, copper cookware sets are unparalleled heat conductors. This means whether you’re cranking up the heat or cooling it down a notch, copper pots and pans allow for the greatest control of heat distribution. Copper is a reactive metal but modern copper cookware sets get around this by lining the interior with a thin layer of stainless steel. The only con in our eyes, as you may have guessed it, is the price. These guys are pricey but well worth it in our (humble) opinion.

 

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum Cookware

Super common in the bakeware world, aluminum can be found in a number of sheet pans and baking sheets. It’s a soft metal, often causing baking sheets to warp in the oven or dent at high heats. It is an excellent heat conductor, however, there is a fair bit of controversy about the safety of cooking (and eating) with aluminum, and the sale of aluminum cookware is banned in many European countries.

 

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

What’s better than an egg frittata right out of the oven? Maybe good old fashioned corn bread, or crispy, juicy chicken thighs. These are all possible with cast iron cookware. The most durable cookware material on the market, cast iron can last for decades, generations even, with proper care. The cons here are that it takes some time to heat up, and can rust easily without regular seasoning.

 

Non-Stick Cookware

Non-Stick Cookware

Non-stick is good for a lot of reasons, namely, convenience. You won’t be spending hours scrubbing egg residue or other cooked on grime, and non-stick cookware allows you to use less butter or oil, great for those watching their waistlines. However, at higher temps Teflon releases harmful substances known to cause illness in bird and potentially humans and because of this, we reserve our non-stick cookware for eggs, exclusively.

Comments? Thoughts? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Care for Stainless Steel

How to Care for Stainless Steel Cookware

Whether you’re on the market for new stainless steel cookware, or already the proud owner of some fabulous ss cookware, here’s your go-to guide for taking care of those bad boys.

  • Before first use, be sure to give your cookware a good cleaning in hot and soapy water. This will help to remove any debris they have accumulated during packing and transit. You wouldn’t wear a new top without washing it first, right? We recommend using a neutral cleaner and staying away from citrus detergents if possible.
  • Those with hard water, aka water with a lot of minerals in it, may notice calcium or other mineral deposits on their cookware. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, bring to a boil, let cool, then wash with hot soapy water to best care for your stainless steel cookware.
  • Scorched food stuck to the bottom? Fill with hot soapy water and let soak for an hour or two. Then rinse and repeat to remove this stubborn residue. A nylon scrubbing pad may be of use here as well.
  • Understand that over time your stainless steel cookware will show signs of wear, especially if you use metal utensils. Avoid additional scratches by steering clear of  abrasive tools such as steel wool.
  • Bar Keeper’s Friend will become your BFF. This stuff works wonders for caring for stainless steel.
    • For light stains: Wet a soft sponge and sprinkle some of this magic powder on it. Be prepared for full arm workout and scrub, scrub, scrub. Rinse as you go and continue.
    • For more stubborn stains: Mix the bar keeper’s friend with water to make a thick paste in the pot or pan. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then get your sponge out and go to town.
    • While you’ve got your barkeeper’s friend out, give that stainless steel sink of yours a good cleaner, or hit the bathroom and watch the wonders it does on tile grout.