How to care for aluminum, copper and stainless steel cookware

July 27, 2015

Maintaining your aluminum, copper and stainless steel cookware is necessary to increase to lifetime of your pots and pans. Check out these tips to learn the quick and proper way to care for your cookware.

How to care for aluminum, copper and stainless steel cookware

What you need to know about aluminum cookware

Second only to copper as a heat conductor, aluminum alloy is an excellent choice for both stovetop cooking and baking.

  • Aluminum, however, can react adversely with acidic foods such as artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes, giving the foods an off taste and darkening the pan.
  • Good aluminum cookware will be thick and still lightweight.
  • Anodized aluminum cookware has a fused charcoal-gray coating that makes it less reactive to acids and more resistant to scratches and sticking than aluminum alloys.

Cleaning aluminium cookware is fairly routine

  • Use a mild dish detergent and a nonabrasive scouring pad, rinse and dry.
  • Don't leave food standing in an aluminum pan, or soak the pan for cleaning. Chemicals in water can pit the pot's surface, and alkaline dishwasher detergents can stain or streak it.
  • To brighten discoloured aluminum cookware, fill it with a solution of 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) vinegar per litre/quart of water, or 30 grams (two tablespoons) cream of tarter per litre/quart of water. Heat and simmer until stains disappear.
  • Either formula will also remove filmy residue from the inside of an aluminum coffee pot.

Know your copper pots and pans

Copper cookware is very expensive, very handsome and very good at conducting heat. Professional chefs like using it because it heats and cools rapidly and evenly.

  • Because copper reacts with the minerals in certain foods, it is traditionally lined with tin, nickel or stainless steel. Well-used copper pots with tin linings must be periodically retinned.
  • The best copper pieces are heavy gauge and will feel well balanced when hefted.

Cleaning your copper cookware

Copper cookware is not hard to care for, but it does need frequent polishing to keep it looking good.

  • Never put copper pots or pans in the dishwasher. Instead, wash them in soapy water using a soft bristle brush or sponge.
  • Don't use abrasive cleaners on copper exteriors or tin linings; they can scratch the copper and wear away the tin.
  • Clean the outside of copper pots with a nonabrasive commercial copper cleaner or a paste made of vinegar and salt, rinse, and polish with a soft cloth.

Rolled steel and stainless steel maintenance tips

An excellent conductor of heat, rolled steel is a good material for cookware that is used over high heat, such as woks and crepe pans.

  • Like cast iron, however, it rusts and food sticks to it easily. Season and clean rolled steel as you do untreated cast iron.
  • Stainless steel is a better choice for all-purpose use. It is durable, corrosion resistant, and nonreactive.
  • Because it is not an effective conductor of heat, however, stainless steel is usually combined with at least one other metal — such as aluminum or copper — with better heating properties to make cookware.
  • Stainless steel pots are dishwasher safe and can also be cleaned with dish detergent.
  • If overheated, they develop dark spots, which usually can be removed with commercial stainless-steel cleansers.

Cleaning clad metals

To make cookware that has the highest heat conductivity, the easiest cleaning and the greatest durability, manufacturers have started fusing several metals — copper, aluminum and steel, for example — in a single pot.

  • The resulting cookware is impressive in its performance but expensive.
  • Clean these pots and pans as you would other cookware made of the same exterior metal.

Maintaining your aluminum, copper and stainless steel cookware doesn't have to be a overwhelming chore. Keep these tips in mind and clean your pots and pans the right way to help them last longer!

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