How to Cure Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

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Stainless steel pots and pans do not need curing or seasoning in the same way cast iron cookware does. The quality of your stainless steel cookware and the way you use it makes all the difference in the world. Your stainless steel pots and pans consist of 18 percent chromium and 8 to 10 percent nickel with percentages listed as 18/0, 18/8 or 18/10. Look for stainless steel in 18/10 grades and look for a base made of 1 mm or larger in copper or 3 mm or larger in aluminum, as recommended in "The Gadget Guru's Guide to the Kitchen" by Andy Pargh and John Kelley.

Things You'll Need

  • Nonstick stainless steel pot or pan
  • Cooking oil
  • Meat, eggs or vegetables
  • Stainless steel wok (optional)
  • Fine-powdered cleanser

Pre-heat your stainless steel pot or pan, then add oil. Allow the oil to heat up before adding food. This "hot pan, cold oil" technique works in a similar way as curing and prevents food from sticking. "The oil quickly sears the outside of the food and causes water to be released from the food. This layer of water vapor (steam) lifts the food atop the oil film and keeps it from touching the hot pan surface. If the oil is not hot enough, the steam effect will not occur and the food will fuse to the (too) cool pan surface," according to Richard Hoffmann, Ph.D. of chemistry and physics at Western Illinois University.

Test the oil before adding food by sprinkling a few drops of water--the water drops should immediately vaporize. You will also know when to add food to the oil when the oil begins to ripple, spreading quickly around the stainless steel pan.

Cook your food in batches to avoid over-crowding food. Too much food in a stainless steel pan causes trapped steam and moisture, resulting in uneven cooking and sticking.

Lower the heat if food begins to stick, which releases the food. Do not move the food right away, even if stuck. The food may release by itself.

Listen for a sizzling sound when cooking in your stainless steel pot or pan. This means the water in the pan continues to prevent the food from burning. Remove from heat if you no longer hear sizzling or if you hear splattering.

Add more oil than usual when cooking in a stainless steel wok to keep food from sticking. The more you use your wok, the more it will create a nonstick finish, also called a patina. Use your wok for stir-frying, deep-frying, sauteing, steaming, braising, boiling and smoking.

Hand-wash your stainless steel cookware in the sink with warm soapy water as soon as you use them. This keeps stains to a minimum.

Clean stuck-on food by adding water to the pot or pan, then heating it until the food loosens.

Polish your stainless steel after cleaning using a fine-powdered cleanser made for stainless steel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid waiting too long for the oil in the pan to heat up. It will start smoking if left too long, turning your stainless steel pan brown and possibly causing damage to it.

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