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Very strange question about cleaning pans

 
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:44 pm    Post subject: Very strange question about cleaning pans Reply with quote

Hi all,

Yes, I know I am in a frenzy of posting today, but I have an unexpected free hour from work, and am thinking of everything I have wanted to ask but never have.

I have not had a lot of success with non-stick cookware-- even with fairly pricey brands like Calphalon. I have found that the coating wears off fairly soon even though I went out and carefully bought, and religiously used, teflon-friendly utensils and cleaning pads. I have also found that food doesn't brown well, because I am afraid to heat my pans to a high enough temperature due to fears of off-gassing.

Therefore I have gone back to my old plain metal pans. This raises a cleaning issue, however. I have always used abrasive scrub sponges called O'Cedar Scrubbees to clean off burned on residue, and burned oil. (My dear husband has no temperature in his repertoire but high, and goes light on the oil, so it heats up a lot and forms a yellow or brown residue that is very hard to scrub off.) THese sponges had a black surface on one side that looked like a flexible fine-grained sandpaper. When O'Cedar discontinued them I bought up all I could find, and still have a couple left in the back of my cabinet. However, my stash is coming to an end, and I have found that those fiber "non-scratch" pads they sell do not clean as well as the old abrasive ones. I severely ration the use of my old sponges for only the toughest jobs, but cannot find anything that will replace them-- even the extra heavy duty pads I found at a janitorial supply store.

Does anyone here still use regular as opposed to non-stick cookware? What do you currently use to get off the toughest residue? Are there good products out there that I have not found?

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure what you mean by "regular," Dory. Each cooking material has it's own cleaning needs.

Most modern cookware is made from aluminum (non-stick or not), stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, and ceramic material.

I don't have any aluminum or non-stick cookware, so can't help if that's what you have. As to the others, there are two basic rules:

#1. Never use more than medium or at most medium high heat.
#2. When high heat is needed, see rule #1.

In other words, you either need to retrain your hubby, or have him keep his fingers off your cookware. There is never any reason for food to be burned onto the pan.

However, when it does happen:

For stainless, fill the pan with water and a little dishwashing liquid. Gentley heat it to the simmering point. Let it cool. The gunk should scrape off. Then wash it normally, and finish with Bar Keepers Friend for a final stain remover.

Cast iron & carbon steel. Try the same approach, sans the BKF, and recure the pan. In an extreme case, heat the pan very hot, then pour in cold water. The sudden steam should lift the gunk. But be leary: this can warp or even crack cast iron. Even if it doesn't, you will have to recure the piece.

Ceramic should be fine with just a soaking in hot soapy water. For persistent stickies, you might have to use a small spatula to scrape the burned-on stuff.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have stainless steel cookware, as I am wary of the non-stick products. I generally use Bon Ami on my stainless every so often to get a nice shine and remove any residual yellow gunk. I have never tried cooking it off - but it's an interesting notion!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with KYH here, have found Bar Keeper's Friend to be a most worthy product!
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bon Ami is actually a similar product, David. It just hasn't been generally available in years.

Donna, do they still package it with the pix of a newly hatched chick, and the slogan "hasn't scratched yet?"

The idea, with both, is that you're using a very mild abrasive to scrape off surface stains and polish the metal underneath.

However, there's a difference between the sort of staining they work on and actual burnt-on food, which is what Dory referred to. The crusty, burnt stuff has to be removed first. That's where the heating soapy water comes in.

When that job is done there usually will be a stain left behind. Sort of a very thin fond. That's what the BKF or Bon Ami will take care of. That and the yellowish, burnt-oil film that often appears on stainless.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for all your ideas. I like the idea of Bon Ami. I can get it at my local grocery coop.

I use stainless steel pans and I do heat them on high sometimes. I sometimes need high heat to brown things and get a nice crust. This is particularly true when searing meat. I do appreciate the idea of cooking away crusted food, and have been doing it a lot lately. I have also just discovered something really unusual that I have been using to get off that browned oil that is really hard to remove. We have a larger local hardware store (Ace hardware in our case) that has a large painting section. I have found waterproof flexible sanding sponges in the drywall and painting section. They come in an extra fine grade. You have to get the ones labeled "flexible for shaped surfaces" or something like that. I have found that works well for really burned on grease and doesn't scratch my pans. I was thrilled by the discovery, because I hadn't really found anything that works since the O'Cedar fiasco.

I don't know why they assume everyone now has non-stick cookware, because I have tried it and really not been satisfied. Many serious cooks I know don't care for non-stick. The one thing I like non-stick in is in my rice cooker. As far as I am concerned rice doesn't need to get a brown crust on the bottom, although I know many Latin American cooks might disagree with me on that one.

Dory

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why assume non-stick, Dory? Cuz for, what?, thirty years now, we've been bombarded with that marketing nonsense. So much so that non-stick outsells all others combined. Which is why you see so much of it in the stores---the ultimate in a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Even professionals buy into it. Check any list that has professionals on it (such as Cheftalk.com), and the consensus is that you should have at least one non-stick pan for cooking eggs if nothing else.

Say what? I cook eggs in stainless all the time, and have never had them stick or burn.

Non-stick cookware has a lot of faults. There are, to begin with, open questions about health issues. The coatings are always applied to aluminum cookware, which is not the best heat conductor in the world. If the coating is teflon or similar stuff, it doesn't last, and you have to replace the pan often. If anodized, unless you pay for commercial quality, it's too thin and readly scratches.

In all cases you have to have a second set of non-metalic utensils, which, IMO, is a PITA of the first order.

While you can sear in stainless, it's not good for the pan, and doesn't work as well as other materials. More than anything else, searing is why God gave us cast iron.

Speaking of which, cast-iron and carbon-steel, when properly cured, are as close to non-stick as you're ever going to get, but with none of the drawbacks.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know I should really try a cast iron pan. I have one cast iron griddle from a Mexican store which I use for cooking South American arepas (a little like tortillas, but thicker, like a pancake and, IMO tastier.) I never wash it with water-- only scrape it and it has a layer of carbon on it that keeps food from sticking to it. I am going to try that.

I heard our local radio doctor (a real doctor but with a radio show) who I generally like, dismissing fears about non-stick coatings by saying that "birds get sick if you heat them too high but we aren't birds." That sounds pretty silly to me, because birds are famous for being extra sensitive to fumes that also harm mammals, but more slowly and subtly. We had a teflon pan one time for cooking eggs and got rid of it because we never liked it, and gradually the teflon peeled a bit-- even though we were scrupulously careful with the utensils we used. I am not sure that eating tiny bits if teflon is safe, and it is certainly not appetizing. I should not say this because my brother is a research engineer specializing in coatings, but I am not really a fan of coated cookware of any kind.

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dory, there's no polite way of saying this: that doctor is showing his ass. On this subject, at least, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

If you heat a teflon-coated pan 450F the teflon releases toxic fumes. Even Dupont admits to that. So, maybe you won't die immediately, as your parrot would. But breathing those fumes can't be good for you---anymore than eating bits of peeling coating.

As to that last, it doesn't matter how careful you are, or how scrupulous you are about not using metal utensils. Those coatings do peel and craze sooner or later. With most of them you're lucky to get a year's safe use of of.

God, it's starting to sound like I'm on a campaign, which I'm not. If somebody wants to use that stuff, it's their choice. For me, buying an inefficient piece of cookware that has to be replaced every year or two just doesn't make any sense.

You know I should really try a cast iron pan.

Actually, I'd recommend carbon steel instead. It has all the benefits of cast iron at only about 2/3 the weight. And, for most people, the handle design helps balance the pan better. The downside is cost; carbon steel is about three times as expensive as comparable cast ironl.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Despite my familial coating connection I refuse to use Teflon. I bought two fairly expensive Calphalon non-stick pans a few years ago, and the coating peeled off despite my best care. I agree with you, Brook. Anything that emits bird-killing fumes is not welcome in my kitchen and I don't find the idea of eating tiny fragments of Teflon appetizing-- even though my brother swears it is chemically inert within the digestive system. However I have nothing against others using this kind of pan, and no objection to food cooked in non-stick cookware at friends' houses.

I am going to look into carbon steel.

Dory
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KYHeirloomer



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 552
Location: Central Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

even though my brother swears it is chemically inert

Ya know, whenever questions like this come up, I have one stock response: Don't forget that they told us, for 60 years, that DDT was perfectly safe.

We are the least healthy generation in history. Anybody who thinks all those synthetic chemicals, and preservatives, etc. that bathe our food and cookware isn't a major contributor to that is just kidding themselves.
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The one thing I like non-stick in is in my rice cooker. As far as I am concerned rice doesn't need to get a brown crust on the bottom, although I know many Latin American cooks might disagree with me on that one.


Dory, I always cook Basmati rice in the microwave. My mum taught us how to cook in on the gas hob until she found out how easy it was in the microwave. I do it in a pyrex dish too. Cleaning that involves hot water, washing up liquid and letting it soak. That gets any gunk off no problem.
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