Cooking is something a lot of us enjoy. It is peaceful and cathartic to be able to create a meal from scratch. Some of us develop a certain connection to our cookware: pots and pans in which we make our food. Non-stick pans and pots have been famously replacing old-school utensils globally because of the convenience they bring to the user. However, non-stick cookware is unhealthy, expensive, or very hard to maintain. This is why many people still prefer their old cookware, which doesn't offer the same non-stick properties but makes better food.
These cookware materials include aluminium, iron, and of course, stainless steel. Stainless steel was a revolution in its own time. It offered a great material to make cookware and other kitchen utensils out of very cheap and effective. However, modern home cooks struggle with food sticking on the bottom of their stainless steel cookware. Stainless steel is a go-to material of cookware when you are trying to make crispy crepes or brown your onion, specifically because of the lack of non-stick properties. So it is up to us to learn how to avoid food sticking to the bottom of your stainless steel cookware!
Why does Food Stick to Stainless Steel?
The answer is heat! Too little or too much of it is what makes food stick to stainless steel cookware. When you add oil to stainless steel, it fills the microscopic hills and valleys that make for the sticky non-smooth surface. Only when the oil is hot enough, and you put food in it, it creates steam instantly that lifts the food above the surface and allows it to not stick to the surface.
The initial sizzle is paramount to this effect taking place. If the oil and the pan are too cold, the food will eventually bond to the steel in due time. On the flip side, if the pan is too that, the food will immediately burn a little, which is also not good. Burnt particles stick the quickest to a pan. So the key is to have your pan just hot enough.
Tips and Tricks to Follow
1. Heat your Pan well
After the information on the previous point, this is kind of an obvious thing to do. Making sure that your pan is hot enough is one of the most important cooking steps on a stainless steel pan. It is up to you to add the oil or cooking fat of your choice after the pan is heated up or while it is heating up. Personally, I would suggest adding the oil later, since sometimes the oil can heat up before the pan and give the illusion of a hot pan.
2. The Sizzle Test
When you think your pan is heated up to the right amount, try and drop a morsel of food in the hot pan with oil and check if it sizzles immediately or not. This is a very nice way to test if the pan is hot enough or too hot. If the morsel burns out immediately, maybe you should get the pan off the heat for a while.
3. The Dryer the Food the Better
The biggest reason that causes food to stick to the cooking surface is moisture. If you want the best results, try to cook with dry food without releasing as much moisture. Even if you are using washes vegetables, make sure you dry them with a paper towel before adding them to the pan.
4. Try not to Use Cold Food
Like moisture, cold food can also mess up the necessary heat in the pan to allow efficient stick free cooking. It is best to bring the meat and vegetables as close to room temperature as possible to not interfere with the pan's heat.
5. Try to Avoid Food that Definitely Sticks
Some food just sticks regardless of how well you season your pan. Usually, proteins like eggs and meats have a tendency to stick to the surface more often. So if you plan to make eggs, try to avoid the stainless steel pan.
6. Cleaning and Maintenance
To avoid any cookware from misbehaving, it is important to clean them well with their specific care. That stands true even more so for stainless steel cookware. To do this, wipe off the oil and crumbs while the pan is still a little warm, or make it a habit to soak the vessel immediately.
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