If there is one thing that the pandemic last year has made people realise, it is that there can be no compromise when it comes to health. With even fit and healthy people falling prey to deadly viruses, it has become even more important to ensure that you start taking care of your health by eating healthy, exercising regularly and keeping a calm mind.
If you, like me, are trying to start eating healthy, one of the best ways to do so is to avoid preparing your food in too much oil. This is an easier said than done task, as our Indian cuisine is full of dishes that use either too much oil (vegetable, coconut or mustard) or ghee and butter. One has to use a whole lot of creativity to prepare food without any oil. One item which helps with this task is non-stick cookware.
To understand this, let us first know what exactly non-stick cookware means. We have heard of it, seen it, some even possess it. However, do we exactly know what goes into the making of non-stick cookware? And how does it really help with preparing food with less to no oil?
Non-stick cookware is a saucepan or frying pan which is coated with a material called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or commonly known as Teflon. Teflon is a synthetic material primarily made of carbon and fluorine atoms. It is non-reactive, non-sticky and provides an almost frictionless surface to the pan.
Over the past few decades, these pans and pots have become a rage because of their convenience in cooking and cleaning. The frictionless surface ensures that your food does not stick to the pan, even usually sticky items like dosas, pancakes, omelette etc. In normal pans, one would need to add oil so that the food does not stick to the pan while these pans with their frictionless surfaces do not need to be oiled. This results in less to almost no use of oil while cooking.
However, non-stick pans need to be used and cleaned extremely carefully. Wrong handling of it may result in abrasions on the surface of the pan, ruining the pan completely.
First, let us talk about how to properly use non-stick cookware.
Keep an eye on the flame while cooking
Non-stick cookware, unlike other cookware, does not need a high flame on the stove to get heated. Most non-stick cookware is compatible with medium and low flames and can function perfectly well on them. High heat can wear off the Teflon and completely damage the finish. One simple way to check the strength of the flame that works for your cookware is the butter test. Put a small piece of butter in the pan and start your stove. If the butter bubbles, the flame is perfect. If it burns and browns, you have to lower the flame.
Never use metal on it
Make sure that you never use metal spoons or spatula while stirring and mixing the food in your non-stick pan. Metal spoons can scratch the smooth surface, causing abrasions and ruining the product. This can further lead to more damage with uneven heating and food sticking in the abraded part. Use a wooden or silicone spoon or spatula. These are perfect for stirring food in a non-stick pan.
Always oil your pan before use
While it is true that non-stick does not require oil to cook, you may need to add oil to your food for various purposes. In such a scenario, avoid adding oil directly to the pan over your stove. Instead, use a tissue or brush to rub a bit of oil on to the pan surface and then place it over your stove. As the pan heats, the oil will come together and you can continue cooking.
Store it right
It is equally important to store your non-stick cookware the right way to ensure that it lasts longer. Firstly, ensure that they are completely dry before storing them. Wipe with a tissue to absorb excess water before storing it. When you store it, make sure that no other utensil is touching the non-stick surface. If you do not have space, cover your non-stick pans with some buffer material so that they are protected.
Avoid acidic food
It is advisable to avoid cooking acidic food like tomatoes and lemons in your non-stick pan as it may cause a chemical reaction and ruin its smooth coating.
Cleaning your non-stick pan the right way is also an important point to know so that your pans last longer.
Do not store food in your non-stick pan
Never store food in your non-stick pan. The oils and colouring in the food can ruin the coating of your pan and it can also cause chemical reactions that may be harmful to you. Ensure that your pan is completely devoid of any food before you wash it.
Clean immediately after use
Although non-stick pans have a tendency to slide any food item off it easily, sometimes certain foods tend to stick. The best way to deal with such an issue is to clean immediately. Use warm water and simple dish soap to clean gently. Cleaning immediately after cooking ensures that the non-stick surface remains untainted and protected. This helps your pans last longer.
Use a gentle dish soap
Do not use anything that has caustic ingredients in it. Simple dish soap which lathers well works just fine for it.
Do not scrub with metal or abrasive pads
Most of our steel or iron utensils need a good scrub with metal wire pads. However, non-stick pans do not need that. A simple wash with warm soapy water is enough. Scrubbing, especially with metal or other abrasive pads can destroy the Teflon coating and rendering it useless. If you have grease or grime stuck to the pan, use baking soda with water to clean it. It is completely non-abrasive and can work wonders with grease.
Oil the surface
As with an iron skillet or wok pans, even Teflon works best and lasts longer if coated with a bit of oil before and after cooking. However, it requires very little amount of oil to simply coat the surface and protect it. Dab a bit on all of the surface after washing and drying it.
Let it dry well before storing
After washing or coating it with oil, it is a good idea to let your non-stick pan dry naturally. Keep it separate from other utensils and ensure that the Teflon surface of the pan is truly dry before storing.
Utensils like well-made non-stick cookware can last years if they are well taken care of while cooking and after. But the important word here is “taken care of” and that means in a specific manner to avoid abrasions and make it durable.