Every Monday, my team and I gather at the OGT studio for a planning meeting. We do get a lot done during these meetings, but I imagine that some of our conversations would seem pretty off-topic to an outside listener! But those meandering conversations often end up providing inspiration for future blog posts, and that’s exactly what happened with today’s post. :-)
During one such planning meeting a few weeks ago, our photographer Kaitlyn mentioned that her husband had been getting on her case about using metal utensils on their non-stick pans. She told us that she had no idea there were special rules for using non-stick pans! So we got to talking about it, and we agreed that there was probably a lot we didn’t know about how to use and care for non-stick pans. I sensed a blog post in the making!
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So I did some research, and came up with 11 common ways that people misuse their non-stick pans. So I’ll be sharing those with you today, along with some helpful suggestions for turning those harmful habits into helpful ones. :-) (And for those of you who may be guilty of these non-stick no-no’s, you’re not alone! Between you and me, everyone on the team copped to several of these offenses, so there’s no judgment here!)
11 Ways You Mistreat Your Non-Stick Pans
1. You use metal utensils.
As Kaitlyn discovered, using metal utensils on non-stick pans is a huge no-no! Non-stick finishes aren’t very durable, and using a metal utensil is sure to make lasting marks and scratches.
Instead… use wooden or silicone utensils when cooking on a non-stick pan. (For the same reasons, you should also use soft cloths and sponges when cleaning your non-stick pans.)
2. You wash them in your dishwasher.
Harsh detergents and super hot water will both wear down a non-stick finish over time. (Even on pans that are labeled as “dishwasher-safe!”)
Instead… hand wash your non-stick pans with a soft sponge and a little bit of baking soda. If you have a really stubborn or greasy mess in your pan, use a small amount of dish soap too.
3. You use cooking spray.
Cooking spray can build up on a non-stick surface over time, creating a layer of residue that’s almost impossible to remove.
Instead… add butter or oil to the bottom of your non-stick pans when cooking.
4. You pre-heat them without adding oil.
Placing a “dry” non-stick pan over heat can release harmful chemicals into the air.
Instead… add your cooking fat of choice to the pan as soon as you place it over heat.
5. You use super-high heat.
Non-stick pans aren’t meant to be used over very high heat. High heat can damage the non-stick finish and release harmful chemicals.
Instead… use a cast iron pan when you need to cook something over high heat.
6. You don’t season your pans.
Seasoning your non-stick pans isn’t strictly necessary, but it can help your pan last longer and improve the way your pan cooks.
Instead… season your pans by applying a small mount of oil to the inside of the pan before each use.
7. You change temperatures too quickly.
Fast temperature changes (like moving it from a hot stove to run it under cold water) can warp a non-stick pan.
Instead… let the pan cool off for a few minutes after cooking before you rinse or clean it.
8. You let them sit in the sink.
Exposing your non-stick pans to food or water for long periods of time can damage the finish.
Instead… wash your non-stick pans within an hour or two of using them. And be sure to dry them thoroughly before storing them!
9. You cook highly acidic foods.
Cooking acidic foods like tomato-based sauces can quickly wear down a non-stick finish. (Putting a splash of something acidic in your pan is fine though.)
Instead… use a different pan or pot to cook tomato-based dishes and other acidic foods.
10. You don’t store them properly.
Non-stick pans can get scratched up if they are stacked together, or stacked against other pots and pans.
Instead… hang your non-stick pans from a storage rack. Or, if stacking is your only option, place a paper plate as a buffer between each pan.
11. You don’t know when to retire them.
The average life-span of a non-stick pan is around 5 years. High quality non-stick pans and pans that are used infrequently may last a bit longer.
Instead… swap out your pans after 5 years of use. Or keep an eye out for putting or peeling on the surface of your pans (which are both surefire signs that it’s time to retire them).