Knowing when your stainless steel pan is ready is essential if you want to avoid your food sticking.
The good news? You can figure this out in a few seconds:
You can use a simple water test to determine if your stainless steel pan is ready, before adding oil.
As your cookware gets hot, add approximately one eighth of a teaspoon of water every 10 to 15 seconds. If small balls of water form that roll around on the surface of the pan before evaporating, your stainless steel pots and pans are ready to go!
Why Does Food Stick to Stainless Steel Pans?
When you heat stainless steel cookware without any oil, the pores on the surface open up, and then food can stick when added to the pan. This happens because the cold food lowers the cooking temperature of the pan briefly, causing the pores to snap shut and grab the food.
If you cook with enough oil, it gets into the pores, forming a barrier between the pan and food particles which prevents food from sticking.
With stainless steel cookware, it is vital to use just enough oil. If you don’t use enough, your food will stick. Excess oil, on the other hand, makes food greasy.
The best way to tell if you’re using the right amount of oil is to coat the bottom of the pan and then heat it for some time and at the required temperature (at even medium heat). Then, add your food.
Avoid foods that tend to stick to stainless steel, such as eggs, butter, or cheese. Delicate/lean proteins such as fish and eggs are prone to sticking as they don’t have enough fat to grease the cookware.
Too Much Heat
When you add oil to hot stainless-steel cookware, it forms a barrier between the food particles and the pan. While the pan looks smooth, it has hills and divots that oil fills.
Once you add food to your pan, the moisture in the food reacts with the hot oil to cause a steam-like effect. The steam-like effect lifts the food away from the cookware preventing sticking.
Not Enough Heat
When you cook something at a low temperature, it doesn’t create a lot of steam meaning food won’t lift off the bottom of the pan.
This lets them brown evenly without burning. A hot pan makes sure there is plenty of steam around the food.
Proper cleaning and storage of your pan is essential to prevent food from sticking to your stainless steel pan. Food residue left over after cooking can cause burnt spots. Burnt particles stick to the pan.
To properly clean your pan, you need to do so while it’s still warm. Use a paper towel to wipe out crumbly bits or residual oil then return your cookware to medium heat.
Once the cookware is hot, pour in one cup of hot water to deglaze the pan. Scrape away all stubborn bits using a wooden spoon. Pour out the water.
Use a paper towel to wipe the pan again and clean it in hot soapy water.
Tip: Avoid cleaning your stainless-steel pan in a dishwasher as some detergents can be harsh and leave a residue.
What You Can Do to Stop Food from Sticking to Stainless Steel Pans
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to cook something in a stainless-steel pan only to have it stick and burn, you know how frustrating it can be.
Stainless steel is supposed to be a non-stick surface, but sometimes food just doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent food from sticking to your stainless-steel pans, though.
Use Water Droplets to Test the Temperature of the Pan Before Adding Food
If you add food to a pan that’s too hot, it’s more likely to stick. Use a few drops of water to test the temperature of the pan before adding your food. If the water evaporates immediately, the pan is too hot.
If it sizzles and then quickly evaporates, it’s just right. If the water just sits there, the pan is too cool.
Start on Medium Heat and Adjust Accordingly
Oil smoke indicates that the temperature is too hot. Turn the heat down and try again.
When starting on medium heat, you should be able to hear a light sizzle when the food hits the pan. If it’s too quiet, turn the heat up.
Dry Food Before Adding Them to the Pan
Dry food will reduce the amount of fat that forms during frying. Dried foods are better than wet ones for searing.
When searing, it is best to use a small amount of cooking spray or oil, as this will also help to prevent sticking.
Bring Food to Room Temperature Before Adding to the Pan
Cold food is more likely to stick to stainless steel pans than foods that are at least room temperature. If you’re cooking meat or vegetables, bring them to room temperature before adding them to the pan.
Heat Your Stainless Steel Pan Before Adding Oil
Heat your stainless steel before adding any oils or fats. This will prevent sticking issues.
Similar to using oil, using margarine will help to create a barrier between the food and the pan. It will also add flavor.