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
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.
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.