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2davidc8's avatar

How do you keep food from sticking to stainless steel cookware?

Asked by 2davidc8 (10136points) January 17th, 2012

I’m converting from non-stick cookware to stainless steel. Can any of you jellies who use stainless steel cookware give me some advice on how to keep food from sticking?

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24 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Rub olive oil on the cooking surface before using it, or spray with Pam or equivalent.

rooeytoo's avatar

Use plenty of oil, have the pan hot before putting the food in and shake the pan frequently to keep the food loose. I think it is a good idea, the non stick always seems to start peeling after a while and I am sure it is not good to ingest that stuff!

bongo's avatar

yes oil is good but also I find one of these are good to make sure when you stir you cover a large area to prevent your stew or whatever from sticking to the bottom over a larger surface than a normal wooden spoon. Especially good for heating milk.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If you are frying something, make sure the pan is hot. Then when you put the item you are frying in the pan a “steam cushion” will form under the food. Less likely to stick.

JLeslie's avatar

I converted also, but for frying things like eggs I still use my non-stick pans, because I care about how much fat I consume. I see it as a moderation thing. Most liquids I now cook in my “sticky” pots, because non-stick is not necessary for that. I also do sautee some veggies and cook dishes like chicken or pork chops, but eggs, and some other foods where it is very important something does not stick, I bend on.

I agree with the people above to oil the bottom of the pan well, and by well I mean covered well, it does not have to be deep in oil though. Literally rubbing the oil all over the pan so there is no spot not oiled. You can use cooking spray also, my husband does that, but I find it counterintuitive to switch away from nonstick, but still spray chemicals into the pan. Also, you need to let food cook for a certain amount of time before trying to flip it over. Food sticks at first, and then it releases usually. Usually you can tell it is time to flip by the sound. Food sizzles a lot as it first hits the pan, and then the sizzling dies down. As it quiets, it indicates it is browning, and beginning to release, and ready to flip.

JLeslie's avatar

Also, I recently purchased Calphalon non-stick. I bought two pans, and the quality is amazing. The cheaper teflon brands peel off. I have no idea if it trully is a healthier option as far as non-stick choices, but I feel fairly comfortable using it when I need to. I have used Analon brand in the past, and I was fairly happy with those also, but I like the Calphalon better so far.

everephebe's avatar

Fat or oil products help.
Then there is washing the darn thing if that fails. :D

john65pennington's avatar

Spray Canola Oil liberally on the inside of your pan and include the sides.

MissAnthrope's avatar

This is an issue I’m currently dealing with because I often cook in someone else’s kitchen and she is strongly opposed to non-stick pans. Most of the time, it’s fine, but I don’t think you can ever entirely eliminate non-stick pans from your cooking arsenal. Or, if you do, mad props to you because you have a lot more patience than I do. :P

Some things, such as eggs, I wouldn’t even attempt in the steel pans. More accurately, I have attempted them in the steel pans and it’s all a giant disappointment and a pain in the ass. If you want to make omelettes or fritattas, you will need non-stick. If you want to cook things in less oil/fat, non-stick is the way to go.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I switched to stainless steel, too, after finding teflon flakes in my vanilla pudding! I used them for about 5 years before I had to admit that they just don’t work as well as non-stick. Then I broke down and got a set of Calphalon. As @JLeslie states above, Calphalon is wonderful. They are non-stick and also do not scratch as easy or flake at all. They are expensive, but around Christmas you can get some killer deals on it from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

tranquilsea's avatar

I don’t worry very much about food sticking as I find the clean up really easy. Just fill it with a bit of water fairly soon after you take your food out and put in a drop or two of dish soap and bring that to a boil. The bottom will be clean after a minimal amount of scrubbing.

I use an old fashioned spatula to pry the stuff off the bottom.

citizenearth's avatar

It is important to immediately fill in some water after you have finished cooking using the pan. Leave the pan with the water for at least a few minutes. It will really helps you to easily remove the black stain that sticks to the pan later on.

JLeslie's avatar

I wasn’t thinking the worry was clean up, but rather omelettes maybe not turning out as desired, or leaving the yummy browned parts of a variety of dishes in the pan because it stuck to the bottom.

Hain_roo's avatar

I haven’t had much luck with stainless steel, but love my seasoned cast iron as a non-stick alternative.

rooeytoo's avatar

I use a fair bit of oil and I like the taste of extra light olive oil with a hit of sesame oil in it. Nothing will stick if there is sufficient oil and I don’t think it makes the food any more fattening if the oil is hot when you put the food in and drain it a bit when you’re finished cooking.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo I think it depends on the food for how much fat it adds. Foods like potatoes and eggplant absorb a ton of oil, while a chicken breast probably not so much.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@tranquilsea That sounds rather time-consuming to me – all that soaking and prying. But if @2davidc8 really wants to use stainless steel, that is probably the best way.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt it’s not time consuming at all.

One thing I thought about after I posted was this: heat up your pan before you place your food item in. That should sear the bottom fairly well without a lot of mess.

I’d much rather clean a stainless steel pan than watch yet another teflon pan degrade to the point where I am sure it is killing us lol.

Hain_roo's avatar

I think a well seasoned cast iron pan works as well as a non-stick, the trick is to not use soap on it. Stainless steel and I have never worked out well.

2davidc8's avatar

Many thanks to all for your suggestions. Perhaps I should mention why we are switching from non-stick to stainless steel cookware. Some months ago, we attended a confab on breast cancer at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, CA. Doctors and other experts there advised abandoning non-stick cookware because the substances than can come off this type of surface are known hormone disruptors and may be involved in breast and other cancers. Why take a chance?

JLeslie's avatar

@2davidc8 I didn’t know they were hormone disruptors, but I just assumed it was poison. I also have almost competely eliminated plastic containers for those same reasons, hormone disruption and generally a feeling they are poison. But, also remember that fat, being overweight promotes breast cancer also. Fat cells hold onto estrogens, which many girl cancers feed on. So, I go for moderation of the possibly bad things our bodies are exposed to. Just my opinion, I’m not a meical expert of any kind.

2davidc8's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I agree with you on moderation. We didn’t think we needed to overreact. Instead, as each non-stick pot and pan wore out, we replaced it with stainless.

At the confab, they talked about those hard plastic containers, too. Some of those, especially the older ones, may contain BPA (bis-phenol-A), which as you have noted, is another hormone disruptor. It was recommended to use BPA-free plastic, if you’re going to use plastic at all. BPA is also found in the lining of cans and can leach into the food, especially if it is acidic. That’s why we try to minimize the use of canned tomatoes, for example.

rooeytoo's avatar

@2davidc8 – it is enough to drive you to drink!!! I have read so many times that canned tomatoes are good for fighting breast and prostate cancer, so we use a lot of them. I hadn’t heard about the can lining.

What are we to do???

2davidc8's avatar

@rooeytoo It’s the tomatoes that are thought to be cancer-fighting because they contain lycopene. Those are good.
The problem is in the can lining. That more often than not contains BPA.

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