There's nothing better than buying a fresh set of non-stick cookware and finding out that making your culinary creations can be less of a hassle than you originally thought.
Without needing to prep the pans with oil or butter, non-stick cookware has now become one of the favourites to use if you love cooking with ease without compromising quality and efficiency.
However they can be quite tricky to maintain and upkeep if you don't look after them properly. That's why we've put together this guide of tips & tricks to ensure your non-stick cookware stays as non-sticky for as long as possible.
Don't use metal on your non-stick pan
If you have a really old, crusted non-stick pan which let's face it, is probably all of us (they can be quite expensive to replace), then you definitely don't want to be using any kind of metal utensil otherwise it will scratch the surface of your cookware.
This means, under no circumstances, should you be cutting your food in the pan with metal knives or pizza cutters, do not turn your pancakes over with metal spatulas (try using the Dreamfarm 'Chopula' for this), and definitely do not use a metal whisk or a fork to stir your gravies or vegetable blends.
Alternatively, you can use a bunch of scratch-friendly materials such as wood, rubber, silicone, nylon or plastic OR you can finally upgrade your piece of non-stick cookware that features a shiny & new, dense, diamond-crusted pan and forget all about this step.
Avoid extreme water temperature changes
I know it can be tempting to run your pots and pans under cold water the second you've taken whatever it is that you're cooking out of it but trust us, don't. Resist the urge.
Doing this can majorly warp your pan and a warped pan keeps the heat from distributing evenly, making cooking a nightmare (or if you think cooking's already a nightmare, an even bigger one).
Let your cookware sit, stew and cool down for a couple of minutes before running it underwater. You'll thank us for it.
NEVER use aerosol cooking spray
Sorry to shout at you but this one is important. Cooking spray will, without a doubt, ruin your pan and we're not even joking. Cooking spray, over time, will build up a nice crusty layer on the surface of your pan, ruining your non-stick coating and that's something you want to avoid.
If you feel like you need to use something to coat your pan (even though it's non-stick so you don't have to), use a small amount of olive oil.
Avoid high heats when using your pans
When you first buy a pan, somewhere on the packaging it should have a heat warning letting you know just how much heat they can take. Pay attention to that. However if your cookware is that old and you can't remember what you had for lunch last Thursday let alone what temperature you should be heating your pan up on, just stick to medium heat.
Clean your non-stick cookware with scratch-proof scouring pads
Non-stick surfaces are usually super sensitive so using things like steel wool, scouring pads, sharp scrapers or harsh cleaning detergents are going to upset it big time.
If for some reason your food is really stuck on the surface of the pan (maybe you haven't been religiously following these steps?), allow the pan to soak a bit, then use a stiff sponge to gently remove the leftovers. You could also use a scouring pad that is 'non-stick pan' safe if it's proving hard to remove and you'd rather be doing something else with your Friday night.
Alternatively, if you have a build-up of residue on your non-stick surface that's causing food to stick to the pan (and causing you to stress out) you can also give it a good scrub with some bi-carb soda, water and a little bit of elbow grease.
Start by sprinkling a couple of tbsp's of bi-carb soda into a dry pan. Grab a scotch bright type scourer pad and put it in water before gently wringing it out (you want there to be enough moisture in the pad to turn the bi-carb into a paste).
Scrub the pan with the paste, working in small circles but avoid over scrubbing a single section. Once the paste turns brown, it means you're getting oil the surface, congrats.
When you're done, rinse the pan and evaluate the surface. If you can still see brown/black areas you may need to repeat the process.
Clean and dry your non-stick friends after using them
The best way to clean your non-stick pans? Hand wash them fairly soon after you've finished using them. Waiting too long to clean your cookware increases the risk of leftover oils baking onto the coating and outside of the pan (mmm tasty).
These oils are tough to remove, so tough that you'll probably think about just chucking the whole thing out once or twice while doing it, and can cause your food to stick to the surface of the pan.
In conclusion, hand wash and hand dry your pans.
Don't store food in your pans
Now this one's kind of a no-brainer and we've asked around and we're yet to find someone who actually does this but we still think it's worth mentioning. Don't store food in your pans, you have food storage options for that.
Store your pans properly
In an ideal world, all your pans would be hanging, you'd have a fancy marble-topped island bench and a walk-in pantry. In this world, however, we understand that it might not be realistic so the next best way to store them is to stack them away from other sharp objects or corners.
Hint, make sure you can get at them without having to scrape the bottom of one pan with the top of another.