If you’ve ever cooked with stainless steel cookware, you know that it’s a great choice for its durability and versatility.
But what do you do when your favorite stainless steel pots and pans start to get discolored? What a surprise… these are made of stainless steel! Isn’t that non-stick?
In this article, we’ll look at how to remove burned food residue from stainless steel cookware and keep your cookware looking shiny and new.
Why stainless steel cookware is notorious for burnt-on residue
Stainless steel is a great material for most things, cooking being one of them. It gets very hot, works well to keep an even heat, and cooks quickly.
Because it cooks so quickly, however, it does tend to get stuck on food residue.
The main reason that your stainless steel pans have stuck-on food residue has nothing to do with you or your cooking. When stainless steel is heated, the pores of the metal expand; when the pan cools, such as when you put food in it, the pores of the metal contract and grip onto the food, making it difficult to remove stuck food. and everything to do with the metal itself.
When stainless steel is heated, the pores of the metal expand; when the pan cools, such as when you put food in it, the pores of the metal contract and grip onto the food, making it difficult to remove stuck food.
Best ways to remove food from stainless steel pans
Baking soda is a great way to remove stuck-on food. You can add baking soda to the bottom of the pan to make a paste, and then allow it to heat up before you scrub.
You can also use what is called “Bar Keepers Friend,” which is a polish used to maintain metal cookware.
Deglazing the pan also works, as does using salt and tin foil to scrub. We will discuss these methods in greater depth to help you determine what is going to work best for you.
How to remove food stains from stainless steel cookware
Though the name would denote that there was no way to stain it, food can still get stuck and make stains or burn on it that look like stains on your pan.
There are some ways you can remove these burned food particles, and we want to help you find the method that works best for you.
This is one of the most common removal methods. This is not typical dish soap, but dishwasher tabs.
You want to put some hot water in your pan, then add a dishwasher tab and scrub.
You can also use peroxide to help lift the stains from the pan. You want to add dish soap, the squirt kind, and peroxide to a pan to make a thin liquid.
You then want to allow the mixture to boil for a few seconds. Scrub the pan and rinse well.
If the soap and peroxide do not work, you can just boil peroxide and water until it turns dark purple.
Then wash and rinse the pan before you put it away. Using a stainless steel scrubber that is meant for stainless steel can also help to remove dirt and debris.
Baking soda scrub
This is another great one that uses what you already have on hand in most cases.
Take a bit of baking soda and water and make a thick paste. Use a scrubber and scrub with the baking soda paste.
You can then use cream of tartar in a paste to help make a polish to polish the pan after it has been scrubbed.
Baking soda works to help make an abrasive layer that removes the food from the surface of the pan.
Deglazing your pan
This is a step that can be done while you are still cooking before you try to clean the pan. When you are done cooking, take some white vinegar and pour it into the pan while it is still hot.
This will sizzle and make a lot of steam and noise, but it helps to remove the food from the surface of the pan.
You can also add some white vinegar to the pan and bring it up to a boil, then allow it to simmer for three minutes. After it has simmered, dump the vinegar and wash as normal.
Cream of tartar
Take some cream of tartar and make it into a thick paste. You then want to put it on the surface of the pan and allow it to sit overnight.
This will lift the stains, and you should be able to wipe them away in the morning.
This is a bit strange for some, but it has been known to work on occasion. Take a dryer sheet and add it to the pan with a bit of water.
You want to let it soak for a little bit. Then, scrub the pot with the water from the dryer sheet.
Wash your pan as usual and let it dry completely before you put it away.
Ketchup soaking and tomato sauce
This is another strange one, but it has been known to work. The acid from the ketchup is going to help break down the food that is stuck in the pan.
Add a bit of ketchup to the pan and spread it over in a thin layer.
You can use tomato sauce in place of ketchup if you do not have any. Put the tomato sauce in the pan and allow it to simmer for a few minutes, then scrub it away.
Allow this to sit for an hour or so, then wipe it away and wash the pan as normal.
Salt scrubbing is a great way to use what you have on hand to remove food residue from your pan.
First, take some salt and a sponge or a scrubber. Add the salt to the pan and scrub vigorously.
This can act as an abrasive to remove the burnt food, but it does need to be cleaned thoroughly. It can cause pitting if you leave any salt on the pan and do not remove it before you put the pan away.
Pour any soda into the pan and allow it to sit for a little while. Then wash and rinse the pan.
Lemon cleaning method
This is another great natural one. Take a lemon and cut it in half. Then, take the lemon and dip it into salt, and use half of the lemon with salt to scrub the pan.
The salt on the lemon, paired with the acid in the juice, is going to help remove the stains.
Make sure you clean the pan well before you put it away. This can also be done with a lime if you do not have a lemon on hand for the scrubbing.
Baking soda and tin foil make great cleaners
You can also use crushed tin foil and baking soda to scrub your stainless steel pans. Make a baking soda paste from water and baking soda and cover your pan in a thick layer.
Use the crushed tin foil to scrub the baking soda on the pan and to help loosen the stains.
You then want to clean the pan with soap and make sure you dry it entirely before you put it away.
Bark Keepers Friend and other cleaners
You can use a polish called “Bar Keepers’ Friend” to polish pans and pots. Just follow the directions on the cleaner for the best results.
Bon Ami is another great cleaner. It is a little less strong than other options. Follow the directions on the cleaner for the best results.
Use that old wine
This is another one that is interesting.
You can simmer old wine, and the acid in the wine should help loosen the stains so you can wipe them away and wash your pan as usual.
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