Not all cookware is designed the same, which means the way the cookware must be cleaned will vary by type. Ask any cast iron aficionado, for example, about cleaning their pans, and they will be quick to tell you “no soap” or “don’t use a sponge” or “I clean mine with paint thinner.”
Okay, that last one was a joke. Please, please do not use paint thinner to clean your cookware! The point I am driving home is that everyone has their own “tried and true” or “old wivestale” method and those exist for a reason.
These successful methods are born of the earlier mistakes made, the trial and error that happened in many kitchens, and the things home cooks and even professional chefs learned when trying to clean cookware.
Cookware can be a significant investment, and cleaning it properly can extend the life of that investment. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to understand how to best clean any cookware you use in your kitchen.
In this article, I will cover the five pro tips you need to know to properly take care of your ceramic pots and pans. First, I will give you a quick overview of ceramic cookware for those who have not used it before.
What is Ceramic Cookware?
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Ceramic refers to a non-metallic mineral (such as clay) that is fired at a high temperature, and it then becomes heat resistant and corrosion resistant. If you take that ceramic and use it as a ceramic coating over metal cookware, presto: you have ceramic cookware.
Ceramic pots and pans are not only durable, reliable, and have a nonstick coating; they are attractive as well. But buyers beware: ceramic pots and pans are not cheap and (gasp!) not recommended for dishwasher use. If this is the route you choose in your kitchen, you must be prepared to wash your solid ceramic cookware by hand and take good care to clean these pots and pans properly.
Tip 1: Cool It Down
The first rule of ceramics club is COOL IT DOWN. You must allow your ceramic pots and pans to cool off before cleaning them.
The cooling-off period helps you avoid damage caused by sudden extreme changes in temperature; you should not take a scalding hot ceramic frying pan to a sink full of cold water, even if you are in a hurry to clean up. To preserve and extend the life of a ceramic cookware set, let it cool first. Whether that means moving it to a stovetop burner that is off or simply leaving it on the counter next to the sink while you eat, make sure you follow this important tip.
Tip 2: Soak It
If you have experienced a culinary disaster of some sort that left more of your meal stuck to your pan than on your dinner plate, fear not: the stuck-on food will come off. Eventually! Patience is key here, too, as you will need to soak the pan and not rush to scrub it off with anything harsh.
Try soaking the pan for at least 30 minutes, and if the food still won’t budge when you scrub it, there is one more thing you can try: add vinegar and water to the pot (in a 1 to 4 ratio) and boil it for a few minutes. Once the pan cools, the food should be easier to remove.
Tip 3: Baking Soda
If you are only using baking soda for baking, you are missing out on one of the greatest all-purpose “tools” in your household! Baking soda works wonders to fix everything from mysterious odors coming from your kitchen trash can to stains on your ceramic cookware.
If there is a stubborn stain on one of your ceramic pans after you have carefully hand washed it, try this baking soda fix before you dry it and put it away.
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the stain and leave it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then use a soft brush to scrub around the stain in a circular motion until it is removed.
Tip 4: Rinse and Dry
This may seem like an obvious piece of information more than a “tip,” but we cannot emphasize the importance of drying enough. By ensuring all food and dish detergent is thoroughly rinsed off, you have won half the battle, but care for your ceramic pots and pans also means thorough drying each and every time.
Do not skimp on this and put them away wet; if you lack the patience for hand drying, at least use a rying rack to give the pots and pans time to dry completely before they are stored.
Once you do put the pans away, do not stack them with other types of cookware, which could damage the ceramic cooking surface.
Tip 5: No Lemons
Rest assured; you do not have to give up your favorite lemon chicken recipe when you start using a ceramic cookware set! The suggestion here is simply that you do not use lemons or lemon products to clean ceramic cookware if there is any evidence of erosion. The acidity of the lemons will cause further damage to the ceramic pan.
Bonus Tips: Cooking and Care for your Ceramic Pots and Pans
The way you cook with your ceramic coated cookware will factor into how you clean them and how easy (or not) it is to care for them after each use.
- A small amount of butter or oil will help you avoid burned-on messes in your ceramic pots and pans; however, extra virgin olive oil should be avoided as it will leave a carbonized layer on the pan high heat is used. (Sorry, Rachel Ray!)
- In general, you should work with low to medium heat in your ceramic pots and pans. If you need to pan-fry a particular dish at high heat, opt for your cast iron cookware or a carbon steel frying pan instead.