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Any tips to minimize stovetop mess when cooking and frying?

  • h

I love my stainless steel Wolf cooktop, but it's a real PITA to clean. I keep the exhaust fan going when I fry, but it seems to have little impact on the mess I make when I cook. especially when I'm frying anything - even light pan searing makes a mess. And not just on the burner I'm using - the whole cooktop has to be cleaned, and it's not a simple matter. The iron grates are large and heavy. And I find if I don't clean up, the next time I cook the grease really bakes on and is that much harder to clean.

Here and there I use splatter shields, but it's usually when I first put the food in, even just chopped onions to be sauteed, that a big cleanup becomes inevitable.

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  1. I was going to suggest splatter shield but you already mention them. The only thing I can suggest, is when you put food in the pan, take it off the stove. I get my pan smoking hot, and then when i add something I usually hold the pan over the sink so that the splatter is contained over the sink. I have a glass top so its easy to clean, but I hate when oil splatters on the element and cakes on and smokes so I always take the pan off the heat.

    You could try cleaning with a brush, or at work I clean the mess right away and that helps, maybe a rag and a pair of tongs or something like that might help. You could lower the heat a little and see if that helps, or use a non-stick or something and try using less oil so there is less splatter.

    In japan my girlfriend's mom uses a brush to thinly coat the pan rather then have a pool of oil, if its mostly oil splatter this might help as well.

    Sometimes I'll also put the food in the pan and right away stick the splatter guard overtop and that way after a couple minutes when the pan is happier i can remove it and not have had much splatter.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TeRReT

      "I get my pan smoking hot, and then when i add something I usually hold the pan over the sink so that the splatter is contained over the sink. "

      I also get my pan smoking hot, but I don't move my pan over the sink because I am scared. :P

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        the fear of spattering oil outweighs the fear of my girlfriend or mother's wrath were i to create a mess on the stove :P

        btw, when my girlfriend starts reading chowhound and connecting my username with me, I will be even more scared :P

        1. re: TeRReT

          Time to retire this name, and use another one.

          I don't know if they will associate your CHOWHOUND name with your real person, but you should be more careful about that photo icon. She may recognize that that is the knife she bought you, and the wood background (wooden table?)..... it will really add up fast.

          Please consider putting up some random pictures of insects and rocks as your icon photo. :)

    2. Dry food shouldn't splatter much. Unless it's something inherently moist, be sure the food is as dry as possible before putting in the hot oil.
      When I wash veggies, I dry them off, then dice. Any water clinging to the surface will cause splatter.
      I also make sure I use a pan big enough for the job.

      1. I hate frying, just for that reason. When I'm in the mood, I will put strips of tinfoil to cover the front, side and griddle areas. Looks silly, but it works.

        I haven't done this, but you might be able to take off the grate, put in a large foil, cut/tear around the flame/aerator (whatever that thing is called where the flame comes out) and then put your grate back down over the foil--kind of a bib for the burner.

        3 Replies
        1. re: teresakendrick

          I do something similar--paper towels over the unused burners and adjacent counter areas. Makes a mess even with a splatter screen. Still is a clean up mess.

          1. re: pine time

            I'm think I'm leaning towards doing just that - covering the other grates with sheets of aluminum foil, though it seems so wasteful. I'm uneasy about using paper towels because here and there I've had paper towels too close to the stove and they caught fire, and then I had to yell at the culprit that left them there. I'd really have no one to blame if I purposely put the paper towels there myself.

            1. re: helou

              If you use heavy duty foil, you could probably remove it and fold it up to reuse a couple of times. I only bring out the foil if I know I'm going to fry something that's really going to splatter and/or I have company coming! I'm afraid I'd burn down the kitchen if I tried paper or cloth towels.

              I have a huge box of foil squares that work great for this.

        2. Use a deeper pan (e.g. a smallish cast-iron pot) along with a splatter shield. Frying is inherently messy, but that should contain most of the splatter.

          1. I sear in my dutch oven, the high sides reduce splattering. As for deep frying, I use an electric one where the food is enclosed.

            1. I have a stainless stove, and while i rarely make much of a mess and rarely fry, when I do, I just take two minutes to wipe it all down with some Windex, burners, stove top, nearby counter, knobs, etc. Very fast, no big deal. I also wipe as I go along, I hate cooking messy, take every opp to clean things as I go.

              7 Replies
              1. re: mcf

                That's usually what I do. The wipe with windex.. and often. Best thing is to get an electric and take it OUTSIDE! No mess, no smell.

                1. re: teresakendrick

                  Interesting about the Windex. Never tried that. I have a Bluestar stainless stovetop too, and it's just too fussy to really clean it daily, or even every other day. I was getting to the point of starting to just accept the splatter...

                  1. re: comestible

                    Call me fussy, then. I take 10-30 seconds to wipe down the stove every time I use it, whether it's grease or spills. I like to start off clean.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Oh, no, I didn't mean to call anyone fussy. I meant the construction of the stovetop is itself fussy, in other words hard to clean. Iron grates, removable upper and lower burner pans, raised control panel...many tight spaces to try to clean effectively, and you kind of have to take most of it apart to do it right, or even wipe it down. Alas, I had been warned about that, but wanted the unit anyway for its benefits..

                      1. re: comestible

                        What a pain... Bluestar was on my short list. :-/

                        1. re: mcf

                          Well, mine is what they call their "drop-in" cooktop, with controls directly on the cooktop. They have a different model where the controls are on the front, below the cooktop....that one's more expensive but probably less hassle to clean because the knobs are down below and the entire top is cast iron, not SS. Then there are the ranges, which I haven't researched. But do check them out before giving up on them. Performance is terrific.

                          1. re: comestible

                            When I buy, I'll be buying a slide in range, not a cooktop. My current one has grates I need to remove, but it only takes a second.

              2. Switch to a pan with higher and taller sides -- bet anything you're using one with sloped sides.

                Sounds like a bad stove for someone who doesn't want it to look used. But what about removing the other grates before you get to splattering?

                There are also stand up splatter shields that form 3 walls around your pan, I've seen silicone ones that you can just pop into the dishwasher.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chipoltay

                  Can you say more about, or provide a link to those splatter shields? Do they sit on the wrought iron grates?

                2. Have you tried frying in a large wok? (Just fill the centre of the pan with oil!)

                  I haven't been able to test this idea, since I no longer have a gas stove-top (tragedy!), but in my imagination it goes a long way to minimising splatter.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eethan

                    I have. It is actually quiet useful because of the wider opening.

                  2. I have an induction top.
                    When cooking splattering stuff, I just lay several sheets of newspaper down on the top and cook away.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: subal

                      That sounds like an invitation to a fire...

                    2. I think a little mess is inevitable if you are pan frying or sauteeing something.

                      I supplement my splatter screen by putting a paper towel on top of it. The paper towel absorbs a great deal of splatter but is porous enough to allow through steam. It cuts down significantly on the mess, but doesn't eliminate it altogether.

                      I don't have a Wolf range, but Bar Keeper's Friend can cut through all kinds of stuff and leave a streak free shine when you're finished.

                      1. I have a splatter screen, but don't like it. While browning some meat to put into the slow cooker yesterday, I hit upon the idea of putting my metal colander over the top, upside down. It worked perfectly, and was much easier to clean than my splatter screen. No mess, and the holes in the colander were enough to let the steam escape and make for a nice brown crust on the meat.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: wyogal

                          Great idea--thanks! I'm giving that a try tonight.

                          1. re: pine time

                            You are welcome! I don't know why I never thought of it before!

                            1. I have seen metal covers that go over the burners and grates. I think they come for individual grates and doubles.