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Rescuing Burnt Cookware

So you forgot you left the sauce simmering away while you answered the phone and three hours later it's a sticky black mess. Should you just throw it in the bin and buy a new pan? No! It may yet be saved, especially if it's a good-quality Stainless Steel one.

First of all, fill it with hot soapy water and soak overnight. This will loosen the bulk of the muck, and let you see the extent of the serious scalding.

At this point, if the pan is suitable, you can just use steel wool and a lot of effort scrubbing, if you can be bothered - although this may actually cause your pan more damage than the burn. Never use steel wool or anything abrasive on a Teflon (Non-Stick) surface, and be very careful with using it on enamel or cast-iron pans. OR:

My own plan, and one which is far more gentle on the cookware, is to cover up to the top of the scalded material with a solution of water and vinegar. Any cheap vinegar will do. White is probably the best to use as it has the least distinctive taste and smell.

Simmer the vinegar solution on a low heat for about 15 minutes, then allow it to cool and gently try scrubbing it again. You can repeat this process until it comes clean.

If you've actually burnt the surface of the pan, such as I've seen someone do (boiled eggs, forgotten simmering on the stovetop OVERNIGHT!), it may be unretrievable. But for the sake of a few cents worth of vinegar, it's worth trying to save it.

Good cookware is essential to enjoying the cooking experience, and if you have a good set of Stainless Steel pans, they should last you a lifetime.

If you have less hardy cookware, such as enamel, or Teflon-coated, I've been told that a solution of Carb Soda (inexpensive cooking Bicarbonate of Soda) in warm water left overnight may help soak off crusty-bits.


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