In a world seemingly built upon planned obsolescence, stainless steel cookware is a welcome exception to the status quo. It’s eternally durable, making it the material of choice among culinary professionals. But all those benefits and superior longevity hinge on one thing: you must know how to handle stainless steel correctly.
Before using your new stainless steel collection, getting to know it first is essential. One of the biggest benefits of cooking with stainless lies in its versatility. You can use it for everything from perfectly sauteed vegetables to hearty steaks, and it’s also an excellent choice for pasta dishes.
In addition, since stainless is non-reactive when cooking with acids, you can make a rich marinara or a lemony white wine and butter sauce without worrying about surface reactivity affecting the flavor, or the pan.
Related: Stainless Steel Vs. Copper Cookware
Things You Should Know
When you get a juicy, perfectly seared steak or pork chop in a restaurant, it’s almost guaranteed that it’s being cooked using a two-step process. First, it begins on the stovetop to give you that perfect sear. But, if it went directly from stovetop to plate, you’d have uneven heat distribution and sometimes even a dried-out piece of meat. This versatility is important when it comes to cookware.
One of the many reasons chefs and home cooks in the know love stainless steel is because they can quickly transfer it from the stove to the oven. Oven finishing stops the searing at the ideal point. This allows the steak’s interior to continue cooking without drying out the meat or over-searing the exterior.
When you treat your stainless steel cookware right, you reap professional-level benefits in terms of flavor and durability. Here’s what you need to know about using stainless steel before you start your collection.
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Good for Use Low-High Temperatures
The temperature versatility of stainless is an important feature, oven-finishing a steak being a perfect example. But, the benefits don’t stop there. Stainless is just as capable of performing a high-heat finish as well as a more delicate, low, and slow filet of flaky sea bass.
Always Preheat your Stainless Steel
Stainless is a bit of a rule-breaker when it comes to preheating. Contrary to its non-stick cousins, stainless needs a complete warm-up before you add oils or fats to the pan. Put your empty pan on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then add your cooking fat. That creates a good non-stick surface that’ll make the job easier.
Preheat it Properly
Before adding food to the pan, you want to be sure that the temperature is where it needs to be. You can determine when the time is right with the “tssss” test, otherwise known as the water test. After adding the oil, drop a small drop of water into the pan. When the water interacts with the oil, it should make a “tssss” sound. If it doesn’t, the pan isn’t ready for food yet.
Be Sure to Oil at the Right Time
When using stainless steel, you need to cook with fat if you want the pan to become non-stick. The fat creates a layer of protection for the pan, so bits of food don’t seep into the microscopic divots that make up the surface. When oil fills those divots, food has nowhere to hide, making for a much easier clean-up.
The Meat Will Always Tell You When To Flip
Your proteins have a way of telling you when they’re ready to be flipped. When you start to see a darker-hued crust forming around the edges of the meat, then you know it’s time to turn. You can be sure the moment has come when the meat moves easily, and you don’t feel you have to push or pull it off the pan.
Keep Those Brown Bits
Don’t toss out those loose bits of food! Remember that food is flavor, and those tiny pieces are concentrated little flavor bombs that will only enrich the end result. The technical term for these leftover pieces in the pan is “fond” and pronounced “fahn.” They are perfect for making rich and flavorful sauces and gravies. Simply deglaze with an acid like wine, vinegar, or citrus juice to loosen up the remaining bits. Then, add water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Don’t Warp Your Pans
Stainless can last a lifetime and preserve its unique ability to cook food evenly as long as you can avoid warping the pan. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of the cooking surface is important. To do this, always bring it to heat gradually, and avoid placing the pan on a cold surface while it is still hot. Doing this will keep your heavy-duty stainless steel in good shape for years.
Related: How To Tell If Cookware is Oven-Safe
Use Non-Metal Scrubbers Only
Using anything harsh or abrasive to clean your stainless steel can damage it. So particularly if you love the elegant shine of reflective stainless steel, like the pieces in our AFFINITY Collection, it’s best to avoid metal scrubbers altogether. Instead, opt for something softer. And always wipe in the direction of the grain of the metal to maintain the surface look.
The Dishwasher Can Leave Spots
Stainless steel is totally dishwasher safe. But, if you like to display your cookware, you might prefer to opt for handwashing instead. Handwashing helps you avoid unsightly spots where water has dried. When handwashing, give your stainless steel pans a good final rinse for a perfect, spot-free shine.
Why Stainless Steel Is So Great
Stainless steel, why do we love thee? One reason is its near indestructibility. Sure, you could find ways of warping, staining, or downright abusing it. Still, this precious piece of cookware can be a lifelong companion if you treat it right.
It’s less prone to collecting rust and showing signs of aging, plus you can use it on any heat source, including induction. In addition, it’s a durable cooking material that’s dishwasher safe. Best of all, you don’t have to go through a lengthy seasoning process before using it.
Whether it’s the versatility or the promise of a long-term cookware companion, it’s easy to see why many professional chefs and home-based culinary masters prefer stainless steel. When used correctly, it’s more than possible to get superb results every time. From the perfect sear to even heat distribution, stainless is king in kitchens worldwide.
Suppose you’ve been considering investing in a hefty piece of stainless steel. In that case, you’ll be pleased by the not-so-hefty price tag accompanying this cookware. For example, our ALCHIMY 3-Ply Stainless Steel Frying Pan is available in 3 sizes, and they all come in under $200.
For something you’ll have by your side forever, it’s fair to say that an investment in stainless steel is, well… a steal! A good piece of quality stainless steel cookware is an affordable and utilitarian addition to any cook’s collection.