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8 Little-Known Facts About Your Pots and Pans

If you spend any time in the kitchen you probably make use of pots and pans, but how much do you really know about them? Here are 8 tips ranging from extending your pan's shelf life to fixing a stuck lid.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,

8 Facts About Your Pots and Pans You Should Know

Make Your Pans Last Longer

When cooking on a gas stove, using too high heat can harm your pan. One rule of thumb? The flame should extend no farther than two-thirds up the pan. (If it does, opt for a bigger pan.) Never leave an empty pan on a hot stove for more than a couple of minutes, and keep an eye out for shiny rainbow-colored marks on the pan. These are signs that you’ve been cooking at too high a heat.

Know Your Hot and Cold Spots

Did you know that all pans have hot and cold spots? Figure out where they are to make sure your food cooks more evenly.

Keep Pan Handles Cool

The handles on pots and pans can get very hot, hence the invention of potholders. If your pans have hollow handles (like many non-stick pans do), however, you can place some aluminum foil inside to keep them cool. It seems counterintuitive, but the foil blocks heat from traveling up from the burner. Don’t tell anyone how you did it. Use your bare hands. Impress your friends!

Keep Hot Pans off Wood

Avoid setting hot pans on wood cutting boards or butcher-block countertops. Not only might they leave a white mark, but bacteria love heat, and the hot pan may serve to activate them or draw them to the surface of the wood.

Preserve Pots and Pans

Make sure you let your pots and pans cool before you wash them. Drastic changes in temperature can cause them to warp, meaning they won’t heat evenly and will be harder to cook with.

Fix a Stuck Lid

Have you ever left a covered pot on the stove only to find that the lid is stuck on? If this happens to you, just try setting the pot over moderate heat for a minute or two. Why? When you cook a food in a covered pot, the air inside the pot increases in pressure, raising the lid ever so slightly so heated air can escape. When you turn off the heat, the air pressure decreases along with the temperature and may become lower than the air pressure outside. This decrease in pressure, along with the water from the steam, creates a vacuum around the lid and seals it tight. The longer the lid is left on, the tighter the seal. Turning the heat back on will increase the air pressure in the pot, loosening the lid’s seal.

Apples Can Bring Back Your Pans’ Shine

Aluminum pots and pans are inexpensive, but they can stain easily and lose their luster pretty quickly. But the next time you’re peeling apples, don’t toss the peels—they can be used to bring the shine back to aluminum pots and pans! Just fill the pots with water and a few apple peels (might as well throw in any aluminum silverware as well). Bring to a boil for several minutes, then let the water cool in the pot before discarding. The acid from peels will restore shine to the aluminum.

Remove Gunk from Pans Easily

Here’s a terrific way to make your post-dinner clean-up a breeze: Remove cooked-on food from pots and pans effortlessly by filling them with water, adding a tea bag, and simmering. The tea’s acid will break up food.

See also: How To Clean Every Small Kitchen Appliance

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