Cookware Longevity, Proper Care For Extended Life

Cookware is a household item we all use almost every day. No matter how good or expensive the utensil might be, proper care will not only prolong its useful life it will also provide you with better cooking results. We will list the most popular cookware metals and the best cleaning and care procedures. We will also list some don’ts along the way.

Copper- Purchase one of the commercial copper cleaners on the market. I also read that a soft cloth or sponge that is soaked with lemon juice or vinegar and sprinkled with salt will work to remove slight stains. Never use a metal scrubber or steel wool that will scratch the surface. If the pot is lined, never use utensils that will chip or scratch the lining. Never use copper pots when cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes or other fruits. Copper is a relatively soft metal, so take care when storing not to dent or damage the outside or the lining, also be careful not to get the utensil out of round from stacking.

Aluminum- This metal does have some reaction with air or water with high iron content; the result will be the utensil will look dull and slightly dark. A good way to brighten up this utensil is to cook apples, tomatoes or another high acid food. A good way to achieve the same effect is to add 1 to 2 teaspoons cream of tartar per quart of water or 2 tablespoons vinegar per quart of water for 15 minutes in the pan. You will find that vinegar is a very good cleaner of this metal especially for lime build up. As with cooper cookware do not use any abrasive cleaners or pads to scrub, this will scratch the surface (the only time you may have to use a soap filled steel wool pad is if burnt on food is a problem), try to soak in hot water first and scrap with a wooden spoon. Never quench an aluminum pan in water, make sure it cools to the touch first or it may warp.

Stainless Steel cookware- This cookware should be easy to keep top appearance for years. Never let it boil dry, the result will cause discoloration from the hot spots. The biggest complaint is the utensils will streak or spot when drying, or get slight heat streaks. The best way to resolve these streaks is to use olive oil, vinegar, or club soda. Just rub a small amount on and the streaks vanish. The same rules apply for all quality cookware; do not use any pad that could scratch the surface.

Cast Iron – The key to this cookware is the seasoning of the utensil. You will want to make sure you do not remove this seasoning in the process of cleaning. Never place in a dishwasher, this will over scrub with detergents and remove the non stick seasoning. Clean this cookware while it is still hot by rinsing with hot water and scraping only when necessary. Never store food in cast iron, this is bad for the seasoning of the pan and a metal taste will be given to the food. After washing dry the utensil with a cloth and if possible place in a warm oven to make sure all moisture is removed. Store the utensil with the lids off to keep from collecting moisture. If rust does appear, the pan should be re-seasoned.

General care for metal cookware would include never use a caustic cleaner such as oven cleaner. Never use metal scouring pads or steel wool on fine finishes. Never quench the utensil by placing the hot pan in water. If food sticks you should soak or add water and place the utensil on low heat until loosened. If you must use a scrubbing pad use nothing
more abrasive than nylon. A hanging or wall mount pot and pan rack is a very good investment to help prevent storage damage and moisture collection during humid conditions. This will also make finding the utensils you want easy and will show off your collection.

When you purchase your cookware read the manufactures' recommendations for cleaning, storage and use. Never use any chemical or material not listed by the manufacturer.

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About The Author, Dale Crouse
Dale Crouse is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. Linda, his wife started a website selling quality cookware and she wanted to know how the products she sold compared to other sites. Dale will be writing articles showing how to make the best choices in purchasing cookware from his research. Visit Linda's website at