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Aug 27, 2010 09:44 AM

Help with cooking in stainless steel pans! pls :-)

I've posted a few times this week about my new stainless steel pans (and asked for tons of advice) and now i'm back again! I've been good and haven't opened the box just yet because i wanted to wait for the weekend... now i'm ready to get started!

Before i do... i've got a few questions...

1) Can you cook an omelette in stainless steel pans? If so, what do i need to do? I've got a tendency to have omelettes that stick to my pan and don't want to ruin my new pans!

2) Do you always need to add oil or fat to the pans? if not, when would you not add it?

3) Can i deglaze with water after cooking as a way to clean them or is that always done just for sauces? (You just add a few drops of water to the pan when it's still hot and stir right?)

4) How would I know if i've ruined/burned the pan? lol (I've never used stainless steel pans before - they're so pretty I wnat to take good care of them!!)

5) Any "no-no's" I should know about?

thanks everyone for your help! All my friends and family think i'm a good cook and have all the answers but i know better... i'm such a newbie!

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  1. Congratulations on your shiny new pans :-) I have a stainless steel pan for a few years now, but I'm slowly weening myself off from teflon starting just 2 weeks ago so I'm going to share what I've heard and experimented.

    I'm sure you've already read about this somewhere - Stainless steel pans, though look shiny, have lots of pores on the surface. To avoid sticking, you need to fill those pores with fat and heat up the pan nice and hot, so that the food that goes into the pan will instantly create a seal / crust and the moisture in the food will turn into steam to lift the food off the pan.

    So before using the pan, for the first time and every time, make sure the cooking surface is clean. Once in a while, use hot vinegar or bar keepers friend to scour the interior in case there's little invisible gunk stuck in the pores. Those pores need fresh oil, not seasoning. Salt on a hot pan only works on cast iron or carbon steel. All-clad actually says salt in a hot empty pan damages the surface.

    Heat up the pan on medium for 3 minutes. The pan must be thoroughly heated so it retains heat when you put food in there. If the food is unable to create a seal quickly enough, it will stick.

    For my first egg experiment, I poured enough oil to coat the cooking surface, swirled it around, saw the ripples and light smoke, and turned down the heat to low. Cracked an egg into the pan and not move it for a minute. The egg lifted off like it was on a non-stick!

    1. You can cook omelettes in it.

    2. For my sanity, I will always put fat into the pan. You don't need a lot of oil to cook in a nicely toasted stainless steel pan. I once tried coating the pan with oil, make sure the pan was nice and hot, wiped it down with paper towel and the pan looked all shiny, added another tsp of oil, which was enough to fry 3 eggs back to back with some left on the pan. Demeyere says you don't need fat to cook in their pans. I'm sure you can do the same in any stainless steel pans with the right technique, but like I said, for my own sanity, I have not tried it myself :-)

    3. A few drops of water will vaporize in no time, add a cup at least. If you have some serious sticking, let it simmer slowly while gently scraping it. It should come off easily.

    4. I don't know lol But I'm sure if a stainless steel pan is burnt, so is your kitchen.

    5. Best hand wash, but I put mine in the dishwasher.

    No salt in an empty hot pan.

    No food directly from the fridge. Let it sit outside for a while. Remember, you want to bring the food from its own temperature to frying temperature using as little time as possible. No amount of pan pre-heating will save you from sticking if your eggs are cold - I've been there.

    Though we want the pan nice and hot, too hot will make food burn (duh) and stick. Make sure you lower the heat once it's done pre-heating. Use medium for preheating and turn down to low for eggs, medium-high -> medium for fish and steaks.

    Leave the food alone once they get into the pan, it takes time to create the seal and steam. Eggs take more or less a minute depending on how much you're frying. Fish and meat take a 3-5 minutes.

    Otherwise, stainless steel pans are pretty indestructible. With proper techniques, it's non-stick.

    Good luck with your experiments!

    1. one tip: NEVER put hot, empty pan in the cool sink and put water on it! it will warp the pan.

      1. For your questions:

        1) Yes, you can cook omelette, but you will need oil or fat on a stainless steel pan.
        2) You will need to use oil for most things on a stainless steel pans. Otherwise the foods will stick to it. Many vegetables do not need oil to keep them from sticking, say celery and cabbages....

        3) Yes. You can use a small amount of water to a hot pan.

        4) If the triply pan is warped, then it is ruined.

        5) Do not overheat the pan or super cool a pan.

        P.S.: It is very common to get bluish/rainbow pattern discoloration on stainless steel cookware. It does not affect their performance, but you can always remove the discoloration with something like Bar Keeper's Friend.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Try not to scratch them up too much. Do not bang spoons or other utensils on or in the pans.

          1. re: chefj

            Thank you so so much !!! All your tips/advice are great and sooo helpful! I'm so excited to get started :-)

        2. You can fry eggs in stainless steel but why? It is a lot easier to use a no-stick pan. In fact it is about the only thing a chef will use a no-stick pan for. For eggs, you don't need a super thick heavy pan.

          Get an 8, 10 and a 12 inch no stick pan. In fact, I have two 8 inch pans for when I am frying eggs. I don't bother flipping them with my wrist or a spatula. I just flip them into my other preheated no stick pan.

          I realize that if I practiced I could do it without using two pans. I don't consider it worth the effort.

          Three pans are probably around $30.

          There are several posts referring to Bar Keeper's friend. I highly recommend it. It isn't just an abrasive like comet. It uses a chemical reaction to remove that blue rainbow effect and tarnish. It works great on copper too. You will probably have to clean the pan with detergent then use the bar Keeper's Friend. Here is more info:

          You can get it at the grocery store.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            BKF is oxalic acid (the stuff that makes rhubarb tart, and makes the leaves inedible).

            1. re: paulj

              oxalic acid is also the chemical that gives spinach its weird effect in the mouth.

              other issues with oxalic acid in spinach and other leafy green vegetables like chard and beet greens, too.


              1. re: paulj

                Thanks everyone!! You've all be so helpful! I can't wait to "break them in!"

                1. re: rchlst

                  The weekend is over - how did you like the pans?

            2. These are great questions and very informative answers. Thanks to all!