We all know about the benefits of nonstick cookware: it’s said to be ideal for new cooks as it releases foods easily, it’s usually inexpensive, especially when compared with other types of cookware, it’s light, and it’s easy to wash. Moreover, you will need little oil for cooking and therefore it is a good choice for those health-conscious. Another advantage is that nonstick cookware is available in all sizes, designs and colors.
The problem with nonstick cookware is that it is easy to damage the surface or even completely ruin the pan or pot. I guess we’ve all seen lots of damaged nonstick cookware in our kitchens. However, if you know how to use and store your nonstick cookware properly, it can last for years.
Let’s go through the simple rules of using and caring of nonstick cookware.
How to Wash and Clean
Some manufacturers claim nonstick pans to be dishwasher-safe. I doubt it. Let me explain why. Harsh detergents and hot water are destructible for the nonstick coating. Yes, you might not see any damage after one, two, or even ten times you put it in the dishwasher but it won’t take too long to take its toll.
What you should do is use a soft and non-abrasive sponge with dish detergent and warm water to clean your nonstick cookware. Wash it by hand and never use any abrasive cleansers or steel wool.
Another word of warning here is that you should always let your cookware cool to room temperature before washing because any drastic changes of temperature will deteriorate the coating, which will definitely influence cooking performance. And not in a positive way.
If it happens so that your nonstick pan looks like it needs some extra cleaning, you may try and use a paste made of baking soda and water in equal parts. Use the paste to scrub the pan but do it very gently, then rinse well.
How to Season Nonstick Cookware
In spite of what is said in most instructions for nonstick cookware claiming the cookware is completely ready for use, you should season it before using as it will help it last much longer. Just wash it, rinse, let it dry, then rub in some oil all around the inside of the cookware.
Moreover, you should season nonstick cookware each time before using to make sure it performs at its best. Like seasoning cast iron cookware, it will help the surface keep its nonstick qualities much longer, extending the lifespan of your cookware.
How to Cook with Nonstick Cookware
First of all, forget about using a cooking spray. The soy lecithin contained in sprays is said to cause the stickiness, however weird this sounds.
What you should do is use oil or butter. Put a small amount of oil or butter on a cold pan and distribute it well. It is only after this that you should turn on the heat. If you pour oil, or put butter, onto a heated surface, it’s likely to soak into the food and not to help the nonstick surface of the pan.
Another thing to be aware of is that you should never use nonstick cookware for cooking over high heat as high temperatures damage the nonstick coating badly. Moreover, at high temperature some types of nonstick cookware can potentially release unhealthy toxic vapors.
What Utensils to Use
This goes without saying that you shouldn’t use any metal utensils, i.e. spatulas or knifes, for stirring food or removing it from the cookware. There is a good reason for it: any sharp object will scratch and damage the nonstick coating. The damage caused will most likely be irreparable and you’ll have to invest into a new pan.
The rule is simple: use wooden, silicone or plastic utensils. Always. Even when you are going to just carefully take a tiny piece of food from your pan to try whether you’ve put enough salt or not. Put that metal fork down and take a wooden spoon. Do this and, unlike me, you won’t have any regrets.
How to Properly Store Nonstick Cookware
There’s never enough room in kitchen cupboards and, in all probability, you’ll have to nest your nonstick cookware for storage. The thing to remember here is that you should place a paper towel or actually any towel between the pans so that they won’t scratch one another. You can also think about buying a cookware and bakeware storage option, which will save some storage space and keep your nonstick cookware intact.
How Not to Use Your Nonstick Cookware
It is such an easy solution to just take the pan with the food from the stovetop and put it into the fridge. The only thing is that you should never do it if your pan is a nonstick one. Just remember that your nonstick cookware is not storage containers. It’ll take just a couple of minutes to transfer food to plastic containers. The bonus will be that the coating of the cookware won’t be damaged by extended periods of contact with acidic foods.
When to Say Good-Bye
You should know when it’s time to say good-bye whether it’s a partner who you have nothing in common with any more, a job you don’t enjoy or a damaged nonstick cookware. A good nonstick pan is said to last for abound five years. I’m not sure any on mine lasted that long but I should admit I cook a lot and use my nonstick pan at least once a day, that is every day. I never wait for my nonstick cookware to acquire real scars. Scars make a man look more handsome, not a pan. One scratch is usually enough to start me thinking about all those potentially harmful effects the tiny pieces of the coating can have on my family’s health. Another thing is that this is a good excuse for going shopping! So, it’s always your call whether to stay loyal to your favorite pan until you see pits and peeling if the surface or go and buy the cookware you’ve been looking at for months and have a satisfied smile every morning when you make your scrambled eggs.