Nothing is more frustrating than trying to cook a delicious meal and having it stick to the bottom of the pan. A well season or cured pan will make cooking more fun, easier to clean and create better tasting food. There is a saying in the restaurant business; Hot pan – Cold oil. Meaning never put the oil in a cold pan and then heat it up. By heating the pan first and then adding the oil, then immediately the food, you’ll have much less sticking. Furthermore if you season the pan when you first purchase it, you will have even better results.
Curing by metal types
Stainless Steel – Unfortunately stainless steel cannot be seasoned because of the hardness of the metal. A matter of fact I don’t know of a single restaurant which uses stainless steel pan. They are great for storing food because the food won’t react with the metal, but horrible for cooking. My advice is just stay away from them altogether.
Aluminum – First wash the pan with soup and water using a sponge or cloth (no steel sponge). Rinse and dry thoroughly. Heat the pan until hot then add two ounces of oil to the pan. Carefully swirl the pan so the oil coats every part of the pan. Let the pan cool. Remove the oil and repeat the process one more time. From this point on, never use soap again. Wash with warm water and dry with a paper towel. If some food does stick us a little salt with oil and a paper towel to remove it.
Teflon and other non stick surfaces – Non stick technology has come a long way over the years and there are dozens of infomercials to prove it. But the truth is even non stick pans will eventually stick. Follow the steps for seasoning aluminum pans and your non stick pans will last longer and perform better. Remember after the first time, never wash with soup again.
Cast iron and wok’s – For cast iron and wok’s the process is similar, but because of the nature of the metal you’ll heat the pans to a much higher temperature. Fist wash the pan with soup and water then dry thoroughly. Heat the pan up until it is very hot. Add two ounces of oil and swirl to coat all sides. Let cool and remove excess oil. Heat the pan up again until it begins to smoke. Add more oil and repeat the process until you’ve done this three times. Never wash again and always store you pans at any angle or by hanging so they won’t rust.
By taking the time to properly season you pans, you will enjoy cooking much more and increase the life of your investment. I recommend spending a little extra money and buying good quality pans and take care of them, in the long run you’ll be much happier. Another tip is to never buy pans with plastic or wooden handles because you can’t place them in the oven. As you increase you cooking skills you’ll find many recipes start on the burner then move to the oven. By having an all metal pan this transition is flawless.