How to care for non-stick pans: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — Most home chefs know that you need a good non-stick pan in your collection of kitchen tools. But they only work if the coating is in good shape. Consumer Reports reveals some easy tips to keep your non-stick pans working year after year. 

Metal utensils have done in many non-stick pans. Once the coating is scraped or scratched, food will stick to the surface and the pan will be harder to clean. Use wood, silicone, or plastic utensils on your non-stick. And to protect the surface, don’t stack anything inside the pan. Calphalon warns that storing pans or lids in their nonstick pans will void the warranty. If you must stack to save space, place a small towel or potholder on the surface for protection.

Another culprit that can damage your non-stick? Cooking spray.

“If you want your pans to last longer, don’t use cooking spray on them. These sprays can adhere to the non-stick surface, and over time, this buildup can cause food to stick to it,” said Tara Casaregola, a Consumer Reports tester.

Since non-stick pans are so easy to clean, it’s tempting to take them right from the stovetop to the sink. But never submerge a hot non-stick pan in cold water. They can warp and a warped pan won’t sit on the burner properly, and can’t heat up evenly.

Consumer Reports puts non-stick pans through an aggressive abrasion test.

Casaregola said, “We actually test non-stick pan surfaces using steel wool, something you should never use on them. And some coatings are more resilient than others. To make your pan last longer, always use non-abrasives to clean your non-stick pans.”

Finally, if there’s build-up on the surface of your pan, don’t toss it. Swiss Diamond suggests “degunking” by rubbing in a paste of baking soda and water, scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge, then washing it off.

Consumer Reports says unlike a cast iron pan, don’t expect your non-stick pan to last for generations. The coating will eventually wear and you’ll have to replace the pan. A mid-priced model that does well in their tests may suit most budgets and cooking needs.

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