Cooking is an art. But so is caring for your cookware. We’ve touched base on how to cook with a few styles of cookware, what’s essential and fall accessories, but today we’re digging a little deeper into our kitchen cabinets and learning proper care. Knowing how to care for your accessories is just as important as knowing how they work. Without the proper care for your cookware, you’re not getting the best use out of your accessories and utensils.
Let’s get started!

Copper Pots & Pans

We’ve not touched base on copper pots and pans other than the fact that they are gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing. But as pleasing as they are, they take a lot of care to maintain their shiny exterior.
Some people like the tarnished look of copper cookware but if you are someone who likes to keep it looking fresh and new for as long as possible, you will want to follow these tips and tricks!
Did you ever test the different methods on how to clean pennies back to their original shine? Cleaning your copper cookware is much like that!
Lemon juice paste is an easy way to polish the tarnish and rust. Lemons and baking soda are a staple in most kitchens and can be mixed together into a paste to clean up your copper pots and pans. Apply your paste to the tarnished spot or the entire pan and buff in a circular motion with a sponge or dish cloth. Rinse, done and rust be-gone!

But maybe you’re fresh out of lemon juice and baking soda? I bet you’ve got salt and vinegar in your pantry! This works similarly to the lemon juice and baking soda paste. Mix the salt with a splash of vinegar and grab a soft cloth. Because this paste has salt and is more coarse, be very gentle when scouring your copper cookware.
And if you happen to be out of all the above, I know there’s a bottle of ketchup in your fridge. The acid in ketchup does just the trick! Rub the tarnished areas with ketchup, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe away with a soft sponge and it’s good as new.
To avoid rust and tarnish as much as possible, do not preheat your copper pans and pots. Copper heats very quickly, so only turn on the eye once you are ready to go! Also, stick with your wooden or silicone utensils when cooking with copper. Those materials are softer and will not scratch your copper finish.

Non-stick

Ah, the infamous non-stick cookware. This style of cookware is probably one of the most popular in households across the nation. It’s easy cooking and easy clean-up for our busy American lives. But as easy as they are advertised to be, they too call for specific care.
First and foremost, like our copper pots and pans, avoid using metal cooking utensils with your non-stick cookware. Your non-stick cookware is most likely just aluminum or stainless steel pots and pans with a slick coating on the inside surface. Scratching this surface could cause the coating to lift and could be toxic if ingested. As I said in my 1st post, wooden spoons are my favorite way to go and silicone will do fine as well!
For cleaning, use a soft dishrag or sponge and wash by hand! Sticking your non-stick pots and pans in the dish washer could morph their shape from the high heat. If you have pesky food that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan, mix baking soda with water and let the paste sit on the spot for a few minutes, then try to clean it off with a non-abrasive sponge.
For caring, do not stack your non-stick pots and pans. Remember how your pots and pans are more than likely aluminum or stainless steel in disguise? Stacking will cause the bottom of the pot or pan on top to scratch the coating of the pot or pan underneath. Your best bet would be to buy a pan organizer for inside a cabinet or a pot rack to hang your cookware!

Dutch Oven

You already know I had to mention my ride-or-die. If you read my previous post How to Use a Dutch Oven, you know that there’s some damage to be done with this hefty cookware. The Dutch oven can bake, braise, stew and more. And if you’re like me, you use your Dutch oven often and want to keep that enamel coating looking beautiful. I have a 6qt teal Lodge and try to keep it looking as new as possible.
My #1 tip to cleaning your enamel Dutch oven is soak it! Soaking your Dutch oven in warm water with a little soap will more than likely take any residue off easy-peasy. After it has soaked, take a sponge to get off any stubborn spots until it’s squeaky clean.
If you have any spots that are being extra stubborn, once again, bust out the baking soda. With a little of water to create the paste, let that sit for a few minutes and then clean it off with a soft sponge. Scouring the pot with a rough pad or metal pad will scratch away the enamel.
A few unique tricks you can do are also cleaning with a magic eraser or laundry detergent. Has your sponge had enough and you don’t have a back-up? Use the magic eraser from your cleaning supplies! Just used the last drop of dish soap and there’s not another bottle under the cabinet? No worries, your laundry detergent will clean your Dutch oven splendidly.
Like our copper pots and pans you can avoid burn marks and save cleaning time by prepping your Dutch oven before applying it to heat. Always, always, always add water or oil to your Dutch oven before kicking up the heat. This will cause the enamel to crack. It also can heat up too fast if the heat is too high which will burn the bottom or your food.

Cast Iron

Dare I say, the kitchen holy grail? I scratched the surface on cast irons in my Fall Kitchen Accessories post, but there is so much more for us to learn about this heavy-duty cookware. First off, unlike our other cookware’s today, you actually can use metal utensils with your cast iron! It’s one of the most durable cookware’s out there and thanks to the polymer science behind the seasoning process, you can cook as much as you’d like with your metal spatula. If the seasoning gets a little scraped, simply set aside some time one day for it to be seasoned again.
So what is seasoning and why is it important? Seasoning is simply baking oil into the skillet, just like curing your gel polish under a UV lamp. It creates the ideal cooking surface and helps to prevent your cast iron from rusting. To season your cast iron, I recommend a high-heat oil. Flaxseed and grapeseed oil are both great options, grapeseed being more affordable, but any oil will work if you don’t have flax or grape on hand. Traditionally, cast irons were seasoned with lard so if you have any in your kitchen feel free to use that as well!
Also unlike our other cookware’s, when you’re preparing to season your cast iron, you will want to scour with a metal pad or scrub brush. And, fight-as-old-as-time, you actually can use a small drop of dish soap with warm water while cleaning your cast iron.
Once your cast iron is 100% dry, grab a paper towel or cloth and coat the entire cast iron: inside the pan, the sides, the bottom and the handle. If you’re using a high-heat oil, you can preheat your oven between 350-450. If you’re using a milder oil like vegetable oil, olive oil. etc., I would suggest preheating to 350 and no higher to avoid smoke smells. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack and place your cast iron upside down on the top rack and bake for 1 hour. The baking sheet will catch any excess oil in the case it’s heavily coated.
Once the hour is up, turn the oven off and allow your cast iron to cool inside of the oven. Once you pull your cast iron out, you should see a beautiful shiny coating of oil and that midnight sheen we all love on a freshly seasoned skillet. If you want a more durable season, repeat the steps above a few more times!
But you don’t need to season your cast iron after each use, so how do you clean it on an average day?
Cleaning should be simple and is much less of a process than seasoning. To clean, I prefer just using water and salt. Fill the bottom of the skillet with warm water and pour in a generous amount of salt. I use the back side of my sponge to scrub thoroughly and then wipe it out with paper towels.
Again, you can use a small drop of dish soap with warm water but I wouldn’t suggest using soap every time. And never ever soak your cast iron. This does not ruin your pan, but can cause it to rust. If you have residue that just won’t budge, try boiling it off on the stove.
Water causes your cast iron to rust because cast irons are porous. Because of this, they must be dry before storing and even then, must be stored in a dry place.

Caring for your cookware is like caring for yourself right?

I like to think so! Spending time cooking in the kitchen is therapeutic for me. So caring for my cookware sets up stage for better tasting, cared-for meals made with love. At least that’s how I see it.
Plus, if you’ve invested a decent amount in your cookware, you will want to take care of it so that you get more out of it over the years.
As always, be brave in trying new things!

Happy Halloween!

Haley | Founder of Haley’s Kitchen

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2 Comments

  1. Lemon juice and baking soda have always worked for me with copper pots.
    I had no idea the ketchup would work. I’m going t give it a go next time, just for fun.

    You are right. Cooking is therapeutic, and so is caring for ourselves and everything in our homes.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Andrew!

      Yes, you’ll have to let me know if they ketchup works for you! The lemon juice and baking soda is definitely the more popular route. It’s so true. We as people often find ourselves yearning for new, shiny, fresh things but if you take the time to care for the things we already have you realize you already have so many great things right under your roof. And putting in the effort to care for them is a form of self-care for me.

      Thank you so much for checking out Haley’s Kitchen! 🙂

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