Learning to cook on a lower heat can help prevent food from sticking on stainless steel saucepans and frying pans, but there are ways to make your pan slick and have food glide around if you know how…..

So how does the bottom of a stainless steel pan become a non-stick surface?

If you look at a stainless steel pan under a microscope, you will see a surface covered with small pores and crevices.  When stainless steel is exposed to heat, it expands (a process known as thermal expansion) and pushes the holes closed, creating a relatively smooth and less porous surface. Sealing those holes means your oil and food can essentially glide right over the surface of the pan, making it function like a non-stick surface.

Let’s look at two methods:

The first method is to season the pan to create a natural non-stick coating for your saucepans or frying pans.

To season a stainless-steel pan:

  1. Heat the pan on a moderate heat setting and then add a generous amount of oil.
  2. Let the oil reach its smoking point, then turn off the heat and let the pan cool.
  3. Once the pan is cool, pour off the oil and wipe the pan clean.

You will notice the surface of the pan has changed and should now have a reflective sheen.  This is because when the pan heats, the metal expands. The oil then sticks to the surface as the pan cools and the metal contracts.

Your pan will stay non-stick as long as it isn’t cleaned with soap or any kind of detergent that removes the coating.

You may have heard of the second method called the ‘mercury ball test’ (also known as the Leidenfrost effect), but.....what is it and how does it work?

Here are the steps:

  1. Set your pan over the heat.  Set your stainless steel pan over medium to medium-high heat. It’s the perfect temperature for that expansion!

  2. Wait a few minutes.  Allow the dry pan to sit over that heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Be patient, don’t be tempted to do anything, just let it be.

  3. Add the water.  Now it’s time to test your pan’s readiness! Add a few drops of water to the pan. If the water splatters and evaporates, the pan is not ready. Wait another minute and try again. If it beads up and runs freely around the pan, the pan is ready for oil or fat.

  4. Get cooking!  Add your oil to the pan, swirl it around and let it heat up a bit, then add your food and watch your pan easily cope with scrambled eggs, crepes, tofu and similar dishes. 


    Practice makes Perfect

    Give that stainless steel pan–or your entire set of stainless steel cookware a chance to cook with ease using the methods we have described. Always use high quality stainless steel such as tri-ply cookware to get the best results and give you confidence to achieve your cooking aspirations.

    Hopefully, you’ll never look at stainless steel pans the same way!


    By Support Staff


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