- Why does food stick to Stainless Steel Pans?
- How to prevent food from sticking to Stainless Steel pans?
- What happens when you try to cook food on a very high heated Stainless Steel pan?
- What happens when you try to cook food on a less heated Stainless Steel pan?
- Tips to prevent food from sticking
1. Why does food stick to Stainless Steel pans?
Stainless steel pans appear shiny and smooth, but if you look at the cooking surface under a microscope, you’ll see tiny pores and crevices. These pores contract when you heat the pan and expand when the pan cools or comes in contact with cold food.
When you place cold food on a hot stainless steel pan with no oil, the contracted pores will quickly expand and grab onto the food. If you don’t maintain a stable temperature and properly grease the pan to fill the tiny crevices and create a frictionless barrier, food will stick.
2. How to prevent food from sticking to Stainless Steel pans?
Now that you know what causes food to stick, how exactly do you prevent it? Below are all the steps you can take to minimize food sticking to stainless steel cookware.
Preheat the Pan
Preheating the pan is key to achieving perfect results with stainless steel cookware. Here’s the best method for preheating your pan:
- Place the pan on the burner.
- Turn the heat to low or medium.
- Let it heat up for 2-4 minutes. Keep in mind that it’s during this time that the pores are contracting.
- After a few minutes, add a small amount of oil to the pan. If it glistens and gently moves across the surface, this is the correct temperature, and you can add more oil. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the oil will sink into the pores and cause sticking. If the pan is too hot, the oil will begin to smoke.
- A few seconds after you’ve added your oil and confirmed it’s at the correct temperature, you can start cooking.
3. What happens when you try to cook food on a very high heated Stainless Steel pan?
Too much heat can cause food to stick to stainless steel cookware. Remember, heat causes the pores on the pan’s surface to contact. So, when cold food hits the hot pan, the drastic temperature difference causes the pores to quickly open and grab onto the food.
Also, food can easily burn when you cook it on high heat. The burnt bits and particles will stick to the pan, sneaking into all those pores. Not only does this leave you with a mess to clean up, but this burnt taste will transfer to the rest of the food you cook with that pan.
4. What happens when you try to cook food on a less heated Stainless Steel pan?
On the flip side, cooking at low temperatures can also cause food to stick.
When you add oil to a hot pan before adding the food, a reaction between the oil and the food’s moisture creates a steam vapor. The steam lifts the food above the oil, so it is not in direct contact with the stainless steel cooking surface.
When you place food on the pan, you want to hear a sizzling noise. That means the reaction between the oil and the moisture in the food is happening. If the pan isn’t hot enough, and you don’t hear that sizzle, the steam effect won’t occur, and the food will stick to the pan.
5. Tips to prevent food from sticking:
1. Make sure the surface is clean. Small attached food particles can provide contact surfaces of the pan.
2. Make sure the food is dry and not too cold. Cold food sticks easily to stainless steel surfaces when cooked. Remember if the food has water, it will lower the temperature of the oil and promote sticking.
3. Make sure the oil is hot. Either add cold oil to a hot pan or start with a cold pan and cold oil.
Both methods work fine. However, we prefer adding cold oil to a hot pan.
Ideally, you can add the food right before the smoke point. If you wait too long your pan will get too hot and the oil will start to smoke, then turn brown after which damage to your pan can occur.
With experience, you will detect the exact time to add food to the hot oil.
4. Don't crowd the pan. Crowding usually lowers the temperature and releases moisture into the pan. If moisture is released the temperature will go below that required to produce caramelization and the Maillard reaction. As a result, no browning will occur.
5. Do not move the food too quickly. Even if some sticking has occurred it will most probably be released from the pan after a short time.
If food does stick and you are using a stainless steel pan, like all-clad, then lower the heat a little. The food will be released on its own.
Food sticks to stainless steel cookware if you don’t follow the proper cooking techniques. It takes some practice, but if you follow the core cooking principles, you’ll master cooking with your stainless steel in no time.
The most important things to keep in mind are:
- Control the heat. The pan needs to be hot enough, but not too hot.
- Use the right amount of oil at the right time.
- Have patience — don’t rush adding oil if the temperature isn’t right, and don’t move the food too soon.
- Let the food come to room temperature before cooking.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan.
- Clean the cookware properly.
Explore Meyer Stainless Steel Range here