Care of non-stick pans: tips on how to clear, keep and use your cookware


So what should you do before your first use? Quickly wash your new pot with soap, water and a soft sponge, says Chayanin Pornsriniyom, ICE’s plant-based culinary arts chef-instructor. This will help remove any potential contaminants or debris from processing and packaging.

How to cook with a non-stick pan?

According to Pornsriniyom, there are just a few special things you need to keep in mind when cooking to preserve that nonstick surface.

Perhaps most importantly, avoid using metal tools of any kind – whether it’s a steel spatula for turning the meat or steel wool for scrubbing afterwards – and instead use rubber or silicone utensils, soft sponges and washing pads, Pornsriniyom says. This is vital as the metal can scratch and remove the Teflon layer. As a result, food will be more likely to stick and you may inadvertently consume some of the non-stick Teflon compound when it flakes off. (Research remains inconclusive about the potential health implications of PTFEs in cookware, and the US Food and Drug Administration still authorizes these pans for safe use. Keep reading to find out when it’s a good idea to throw away your pan and buy a new one.)

While you probably don’t need oil in the pan to keep your food from sticking, that doesn’t mean you should skip the oil when cooking, Handal says. Using oil can further enhance the flavor and texture of anything you cook.

“Oils and fats add flavor to foods and also act as heat transfer agents that allow foods to brown and cook without burning,” he explains. « They allow the heat from the pan to transfer efficiently into the food. » Using a non-stick pan without oil of any kind, while possible, can lengthen the cooking process and result in unevenly cooked food.

Finally, for the maintenance of non-stick pans, medium or medium-high heat will be your friend here: avoid extreme overheating with your non-stick pan. You don’t want to use temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, says Pornsriniyom. That’s because it can cause the release of gases and chemicals that can degrade a pan’s nonstick qualities, Handal says. In rare cases, it can be harmful.

« It can cause a temporary illness in humans, sometimes called polymer fever, » says Handal.

But that high temperature isn’t usually a problem, because most stovetop cooking at home doesn’t go above that temperature in the first place, Pornsriniyom says. Many residential stoves and ovens often only reach 500 degrees on the highest setting, and food cooked on stovetops usually does not exceed 350 degrees or.

What destroys a non-stick pan?

There are three main things that can destroy the coating of a nonstick pan: the metal utensils and high heat we mentioned above, and improper storage.

Improper storage can damage the non-stick coating, which can cause scratches and make it less effective. For example, if your non-stick skillet is stored among other cookware (such as cast iron, stainless steel, and even meal prep essentials like glass containers), it may be scratched during cooking. process, explains Pornsriniyom.

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