The Frying Pan Experiment

I have several frying pans. One is a very expensive heavy pan, a Christmas gift a few years ago from my mother-in-law. It was perfect for a few months, but then every time I used it, the food stuck to the base and burnt—and it was a nightmare to clean.

I bought a couple of decent (but cheaper) pans from Lakeland. The instructions said they could go in the dishwasher, which was an added bonus. They were perfect for a few weeks, but then every time I used them, the food stuck to the bases and burnt—and the dishwasher never managed to get them properly clean.

Recently, I bought a heavy cast iron pan, which came with copious instructions (which I ignored). It was great the first time I used it, but then the food started to stick to the base and burn, and it was hard to get it clean.

You will notice a theme here.

Nothing seemed to make them better. My mother’s tip was to heat a clean pan with salt, to a very high temperature, and then wipe out all the salt and oil the pan. This improved things temporarily, but then the same problem started to occur. (I think the ‘salt method’ is good for thoroughly cleaning all the tiny pores in the metal.)

I dug out the copious instructions that arrived with the heavy cast iron pan. It said, very clearly, not to use detergent when washing the pan. I have heard this before, and seen chefs on the telly who claim to have never washed a pan in detergent. It seemed like a silly idea (because surely they would be less clean, and therefore more likely to stick). Discussed it with Husband (who does the washing up). He also thought it was silly, but eventually agreed we would try it, for a short period, as an experiment. He muttered a lot whenever there was a pan to wash.

For several weeks, we have not used detergent to wash the frying pans—just lots of very hot water and a plastic brush. I have designated one pan for ‘sweet’ food (pancakes) as the smell of onions and garlic tends to linger. But, to my surprise, food no longer sticks in the pans (unless I do something stupid like not use enough oil or get distracted and leave things to burn).

The experiment has worked. So, if you have a frying pan that sticks, I suggest the following:

  1. Wash pan thoroughly, and dry.
  2. Put salt into dry pan (enough to cover the base). Heat to a very high temperature, then scrape out while hot. I use paper towel to do this, and tip the salt onto a plate until it’s cool enough to go in the bin. (Be careful, because it doesn’t discolour when hot, so it’s easy to burn your fingers.)
  3. Rub a little oil around the pan if it’s cast iron (so it doesn’t rust).
  4. In future, wash frying pan in very hot water. DO NOT use detergent.

You’re welcome. Feel free to share the tip.

Hope you have a good week. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thanks for reading.

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