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cooking with stainless steel  RSS feed

 
Brenda Groth
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I have a huge collection of cast iron cookware and glass bakeware but was still stuck with a few non stick pans for other things..however..I hated having the non stick pans for things like acid foods and high water content foods, so I went out and bought myself a set of stainless steel pans, and haven't any experience cooking with them.

I did go on line and read some info on cooking with stainless and cleaning them..mine say not to use dishwasher or chlorine bleack (which is in most dishwashing stuff for dishwashers)..so I figure it is best if I hand wash them, and I read some about how to heat them med/high before adding oil or fat, then add oil or fat and wait for vapors to begin to form before adding food, esp meat..and then when done cooking add some water and cook that in the pan scraping off the bits of stuff, (to make a gravy or sauce or just to finish the cooking of the stuff in the bottom of the pan) before cooling it and then washing by hand or in a dishwasher.

Hopefully I'll get the hang of it but thought I'd throw out this idea for a thread so if anyone has any ideas you can toss them out to me..

Also supposedly stainless steel is NONreactive to acidic foods, so would that work well (Wardeh) in any prep for fermented foods?? I know glass is best or crockery
 
R Scott
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SS is LESS reactive (than cast iron), but not inert like glass.

It is a different cooking method if it is thin bottom or heavy bottom.

If you burn it, put a little water in and bring to a boil and then let sit to soften...
 
Kota Dubois
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Brenda, I've used SS pots and pans for most of my life, so this is what I've learned. They tell you not to use the dishwasher because it will dull the shine. My pots are for cooking not for looking so I don't care. If the pots boil dry they will become discoloured (bluish) but this doesn't affect their use.

A thick copper or aluminium bottom spreads the heat well so that high heat isn't necessary except at the beginning if you want things to heat up fast, like boiling water. Making rice or barley or.... I use the lowest heat. Simmer things a notch or two higher.

Frying meat is a little different. I add canola oil to the cold frying pan and heat at high until you can start to smell it. Then cut the heat in half and place the meat in. If you try to turn the meat and it's stuck, it isn't ready to turn. It will release by itself when properly browned. I learned that from a professional chef. Then if you want a virtually clean pan, deglaze it with white wine (turn heat off and add a couple of ounces while sloshing it around --but stand back because there will be steam).

Have fun, experiment -- but you already know that.

Edit: The deglazing sauce makes an excellent gravy, season as desired.
 
S Carlson
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I cook with SS foods that I don't want to put in cast iron such as tomatoes or fish. You are right that using a little oil for cooking meats is a good idea. I have found that you can use quite a bit less oil than you would using cast iron. For cleaning I just stick with hand washing with a scrubbie not because of any of the reasons you mentioned but because it saves space for plates and other kitchen items more annoying to wash than a pan.
 
Brenda Groth
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thanks so much for all the info, pretty much what i'd been getting googling but would rather know from like minded people.

I do not use wine (husband recovered alcoholic) in my house, but I assume water or broth would also work for the deglazing..I do occasionally use the liquids for sauces but also agree that the amount of oil in a cast iron pan is a bit greasy to use as a sauce in some cases, but less oil in the stainless steel would probably work better for a sauce and I really hate to use water in my cast iron pans at all except for an occasional cleaning.

I went through and "washed oh my" all of my cast iron pans that I haven't used in a while and as Paul said in his cast iron articles a little water doesn't affect the seasoning as long as it is dried off well, and there isn't scrubbing with soap..all the seasonings come thru fine with a semi annual cleaning of the ones less often used to get the dust and crud off (as I hang them in my kitchen when not in use).

They all came out beautifully, the griddles have a little discoloration on the bottoms as they are less likely to get oil on the bottoms of them so the iron is less protected..but all the others continued to have a great seasoning on them...I love that I can grab one the right size for the need I have at the time, but also you are right, when it comes to tomato dishes or yes fish, I prefer not to use the cast iron..also things that have a heavy sauce or things like soups that boil for a long time...which might remove the seasoning.

yet to try my new stainless steel yet, but mostly as the occasion hasn't arrived but looking forward to it...enjoying the info
 
Brenda Groth
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here is a link to my blog where I have a few photos of my cookware

http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
 
R Scott
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You must have mounted those potracks REALLY WELL.

Nice collection.
 
Tim Crowhurst
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I have un-enamelled cast iron frying and griddle (US: grill) pans, which are used for dry-frying meat and vegetables. With the exception of casseroles (enamelled cast iron) and stir-fries (carbon steel) everything else is cooked in SS. My SS pans have a slightly unsual lid design with an integral strainer, so you simply turn the lid (so the strainer lines up with the pouring lip on the side) then tip the pan one-handed to get rid of the water.

Also, the thing about not using chlorine bleach is definitely good advice. SS takes months to begin to rust in water - but begins rusting within half an hour in chlorine.

If you want to get a shine on your pans use malt vinegar.

 
Leila Rich
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I use ss a lot.
I avoid all metals when fermenting, even relatively inert ones like ss.
A heavy-bottomed, wide-mouthed ss jam pan is a thing of beauty for jams, tomato preserving, sauces...
I burn my pots all the time, basically because I wander off and forget them After boiling off and scraping out the really chunky bits, I add a couple of tbsp baking soda to a bit of water and boil till dry, turn down low and cook it dry for a wee while.
Pour in some water and the burnt mess (usually) lifts right off. A bit of steel wool should finish it.
 
Brenda Groth
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I used my stainless steel for the first time last night and was quite pleased with the way it funcitoned, but I am glad that I did some research first which I'm sure made a difference in the results. thanks all for the info and advice
 
B.R. Dick
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When it comes to stainless steel for cookware there are 59 different grades used in the cookware industry. Just because it is stamped "stainless steel" does not mean it is a good grade and non-reactive. Some are very cheap some expensive. The cheaper type can rust after being washed in a dishwasher. The more expensive types have more Chromium, Nickle and Titanium in them and will not rust even washed over and over in dishwasher. I bought a set in 1972 and still using it today. It was not cheap when I bought it back 40 yrs ago. but being as I have not had to buy new pans in over 40 years it reminds of the saying "you get what you pay for". This is the best money my wife and I have spent in our 44 yrs of married life and they are still under warranty. This type of stainless steel is also the same stuff that surgeons will put inside you for broken bones (pins and screws) because it does not react with body chemistry. The cheaper stainless steels can react with lots of things but the better grades will not. When looking for stainless steel look for a USA made product. Stay clear of those made in foreign countries. Look for one that has at least one heat core in it as stainless is a poor heat conductor but a great insulator. The more heat core's the better. Look for one that is made of T-304. A liquid core is unbeatable for even cooking. Hope this helps.
 
John Polk
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True. Not all "stainless steel" is the same.

One of my daughters bought a set of (cheap Chinese) SS measuring cups. One night they did a Basalmic vinegar reduction, and poured the leftovers into the 1 cup one. A couple days later, she noticed a puddle on the counter...the vinegar had eaten a small hole in the SS cup.

 
Ken Peavey
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Stainless Steel moves the heat FAST. They have a tendency to burn foods quickly if left unattended and especially when the heat is on full bore. It's the chromium and nickel that helps transfer the heat. If you are not used to using SS, be advised to turn down the heat to a lower level than you normally would.

 
Leila Rich
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Ken Peavey wrote:Stainless Steel moves the heat FAST. They have a tendency to burn foods quickly if left unattended and especially when the heat is on full bore. It's the chromium and nickel that helps transfer the heat. If you are not used to using SS, be advised to turn down the heat to a lower level than you normally would.
that
helps to excuse this a bit...
Leila Rich wrote:
I burn my pots all the time, basically because I wander off and forget them

I only use ss for water (and yes, I can burn it), otherwise it's cast iron.
 
B.R. Dick
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Ken, sorry to disagree with you but it is the heat core in the stainless that causes the heat to move fast or slow. Stainless steel by itself is not a good conductor of heat. It is more of an insulator than a conductor. Most stainless steel with a carbon core in it does not transfer the heat well at all thereby ending in burnt, scorched food. Then there is stainless steel with an aluminum core....better but slower. There is a flour test that will let you visually see where the base of your pan is the hottest and coolest. To keep foods from sticking in stainless steel you'd need a cookware that has 5+ layers in it.....3 just don't cut it most of the time.....especially cooking without water or grease. Using medium and low heats is the key.
 
Matt Carroll
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Leila Rich wrote:I burn my pots all the time, basically because I wander off and forget them After boiling off and scraping out the really chunky bits, I add a couple of tbsp baking soda to a bit of water and boil till dry, turn down low and cook it dry for a wee while.
Pour in some water and the burnt mess (usually) lifts right off. A bit of steel wool should finish it.


I just learned about this technique - amazing in it's ability to clean a "ruined" stainess steel pan. Better than oven cleaner. Way better.

Mine is only a slight difference in process, but it might be slightly simpler and use a little less energy. Here's how I did it:

  • Clean burnt residue as well as possible using conventional methods.
  • Put about 1/2" of water in the bottom of the pan and bring to a strong boil.
  • Sprinkle enough baking soda into the boiling water to cover the whole bottom. (It'll be hard to see what you're doing, so guestimate.) There will be a foaming reaction, so don't over-do this....could get messy or be dangerous with the boiling water.
  • Put the whole boiling mess in the oven and forget about it until morning.
  • In the morning, empty the remaining liquids, if any.
  • The solids will have re-crystalized around the burnt mess on the bottom of the pan - even if there's still water in the pan with it! - and the burnt mess will flake out easily with the re-crystalized baking soda.
  • Voila! The pan should look good as new! If not repeat once or twice.


  • The worst pan I've handled this way was being used to make old-fashiod popcorn. The oil was being heated - on high - and it got the walk-off-and-forget-about-it treatment. LOL I think it did take three rounds of this to get it back to new-looking.

    The best part about this is the chemistry that I suspect is helping with the cleaning. In a nutshell, the boiling water turns the baking soda into washing soda - all the bubbling is the CO2 being released, just like in your breads and cakes! - which is a well-known cleaning agent, but more-so in the laundry than the kitchen. I think this is only part of what makes this method so effective though.

    -Matt
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