It’s easy to make mistakes. Especially when you simply didn’t know any better beforehand. That’s often the case when it comes to maintaining and caring for your pots and pans and various other pieces of cookware that you may keep in your kitchen.
A lack of knowledge around the proper care and maintenance for your pot set can lead to detrimental damage overtime. At worst, this can mean the degradation of pots and pans beyond the point of usability, and in lesser forms it can simply mean a poor cooking experience that results in uninspiring dishes.
However, with a few simple tricks any home-chef can extend the lifespan of their pots, pans, and cookware significantly. This won’t only keep your pots and pans from deteriorating and degrading, but will help keep them looking brand new and shining as if they’ve just come off the shelf.
No matter what you’re cooking with material wise, you may be in the habit of pulling your pots and pans straight from the burner and plunging them beneath the faucet. This could actually be the number one reason that your pots and pans are suffering or failing sooner than they should.
No matter the material, whether it’s cast-iron, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, non-stick, or any combination of the above, going from flame-to-water is never a good idea.
Yes, this can make the cleaning seem easier, but what’s happening underneath the surface is the real issue. Pots and pans all rely on a heating element. Not the stove-top, or the oven, or the flame, but a layer of metal that can actually utilize the heat-source.
In stainless steel and non-stick pots and pans, this is most often aluminum, although some manufacturers use copper.
As this layer of metal that is responsible for heat retention, distribution across the pan, and conduction, heats up it also expands on a microscopic level. This is fine, this is how pots and pans are designed to function and is what makes cooking possible.
Once the cookware is pulled from the heat-source, it begins to cool. An immediate rinsing of the pan accelerates the cooling-process drastically.
While it may seem time effective, this is actually detrimental to the underlying metal. The rapid temperature difference creates what’s known as thermal shock. This sudden drop in temperature can create severe warping of the underlying metal responsible for heat-distribution during the cooking process.
In other words, this makes for uneven heating and can lead to partially undercooked food, and a variety of other issues in the cooking process.
Rather than taking a pot or pan and instantly rinsing it, let it cool to room temperature over time. Once you can touch the cooking-surface with the flat of your palm for three full seconds, it’s likely cool enough to start rinsing.
This little trick will help keep your cookware in mint-condition and help you avoid plating poorly-cooked meals for yourself, or those you love.
Stainless steel cooking utensils can also cause issues and shorten the lifespan of your cookware. This is most-often because of the material with which the cookware itself is made.
A lot of pots and pans these days are made with a stainless steel finish. While the underlying metal is typically aluminum or copper as mentioned above.
However, the stainless steel finish is pretty, modern, and fits the look of almost any kitchen. Plus, it offers pretty easy clean-up, which is a high-selling point for most modern day consumers.
That being said, using stainless steel utensils against a stainless steel finish can actually scrape, scuff, scratch, and eventually ruin the stainless steel finish of your pots and pans completely.
This also applies to other types of cookware that have a delicate finish, though. Copper, for instance, suffers a lot of damage from stainless steel utensils.
In the same vein as stainless steel utensils, abrasive scrub brushes can do just as much damage to your pots and pans as using harsh stainless steel utensils.
Beyond scratching and scuffing the surface of the finish, steel wool can actually expose the underlying metal completely, and wreak ruin on your pots and pans, no matter how durable.
Steel wool will even damage your cast-iron cookware, and should pretty much be avoided in any cookware-clean-up-setting.
Finally, another common mistake that home-chefs make is cooking with too high of heat. While cast-iron cookware typically offers the highest heat-durability of any common material, it is the only one that can be used across the stove-top, in the oven, on the grill, and even over a direct flame.
Its high heat durability makes cast iron a great choice for specific dishes that need higher temperatures.
When using copper based cookware, on the other hand, it’s suggested not to go above medium-heat on the stove, as copper is such an effective heat-conductor it can start to cause warping.
All-in-all, a new-aged hybrid set of pots and pans may be the solution that you’re looking for, with easy maintenance and an elegant cooking experience that fits a modern day lifestyle.