How To Maintain Stainless Steel Cookware

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It was after months of contemplation that I bought a few pieces of 304 grade stainless steel cookware. After all, it costs about thrice a regular stainless steel utensils. My stingy self couldn’t really bring to spend that much without knowing it is really worth it.
The reviews were quite positive. I was shifting to a new home. So, a new beginning. So why not some new cookware. I finally bought 2 Kadai and a frying pan from Amazon. They were sturdy, heavy and looked stunning. Though not as effortless as non-stick, it is not a pain either. In fact, it is pretty easy to clean. Provided I add enough oil, food doesn’t stick to the base either.

Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how durable it is. I told my husband that I would consider it worth it, if I am be able to cook for my now 5 month old daughter’s 18th birthday party in them. He said, of course you will be able to, provided you maintain them well.

Yes, stainless steel cookware are not maintenance free. But that doesn’t mean it takes a huge effort too. With a little care, you can ensure that your precious cookware lasts for decades.

Here are some of the top tips I learnt on my own and from experts to extend life of stainless steel wares.

Tips To Maintain Stainless Steel Cookware

Regular Cleaning

Do not pour water to your hot stainless steel cookware immediately after cooking. Rather wait till it is has cooled down a bit. Then rinse in soapy water and scrub gently using a soft sponge.
Stainless steel cookware are dishwasher friendly. But hand wash them if you want to preserve the beautiful finish.

Always clean stainless steel cookware with chlorine free kitchen cleanser.
Never use steel wool brush.

Heat Up Gradually

304 grade stainless steel cookware should never be kept directly on high flame. Instead, put them on low flame and gradually increase the heat so that it is heated evenly.
If you heat stainless steel cookware rapidly, them might develop a rainbow like tint which doesn’t aesthetically look pleasing. Don’t worry, they don’t affect your health or the cookware’s performance in anyway. Now, if you want to remove them, simply pour a 2-3 teaspoon diluted vinegar and scrub using a non-abrasive sponge. The rainbow colored heat tint would disappear in no time.

Note- Do not use undiluted vinegar on stainless steel cookware.

Salt and Acidic Food

Never add salt to stainless steel cookware when there is not other food in it as it could lead to rusting or corrosion. Similarly, rinse off vinegar, lime and other acidic food immediately, as this could lead to rusting or pitting of the metal.

Minimize Abrasion

Always use wooden spatula on stainless steel cookware.

Minimize abrasion in every way possible.  If food gets burnt or stuck on to the bottom, do not scrape it off with spatula. Rather, soak it in soapy water for a while and gently scrub with a sponge.

Avoid using steel wool scrub on your stainless steel cookware.
Steel scrub will strip off the protective layer of chromium oxide on the stainless steel surface making it susceptible to rusting and corrosion.

Stubborn Food Bits Stuck On Pans

When you screw up heavily on your cooking, you might end up with stubborn pieces of dried  food stuck on your pans that don’t budge no matter how much you scrub. In such cases, pour some soapy water in to the pan and bring it to a boil. Then gently scrape with a flexible spatula.

Remove Scaling

If you live in one of those areas with hard water supply, your cookware might develop scaling over a period of time. You can clean it off by simply scrubbing it gently with diluted vinegar.

Prevent Pitting

Pitting on surface of stainless steel cookware can only be prevented. They can’t be remedied. So, your only bet is to avoid it. For that, never add salt directly to the pan. If you want to add salt to water, do so only once the water starts boiling. This is because chromium in stainless steel reacts with chlorine in salt and oxygen in water to corrode the surface of the pan. When water starts boiling, it won’t have enough oxygen in it for chromium to react with. Hence it prevents pitting.

While aesthetically unpleasant, it fortunately is not detrimental to health as chromium reacts with oxygen to form a protective layer immediately.

Maintaining Shine

Over a period of time, your cookware might lose its initial shine. In such a case, make a paste with baking soda and scrub the cookware gently. You can also wipe it off with some diluted vinegar afterwards.

Vacation Care

Before you go away on vacation, apply a light coat of oil on both inside as well as outside of the stainless steel cookware in order to prevent rusting or developing scaling due to water residue.

Storing

You can either buy a rack to keep the cookware separate from each other. Or else, separate them with cloth or paper to prevent scratches from friction.

Protecting The Base

The base of the cookware is magnetic. It can react to the humid atmosphere. So, to stop any reaction, oil the pan and wipe off after some time. This will have no adverse effect on cooking.

Brown or Blue Stains

Sometimes, the pan becomes blue to brown in color due to dry heating. This doesn’t hamper the properties of stainless steel. But might again be aesthetically unpleasant. In such cases, again apply some diluted vinegar or lime juice for 3-4 minutes and them clean it with a non-abrasive sponge.

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