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Thread: Seasoning stainless steel cookware

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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    Default Seasoning stainless steel cookware

    I thought I'd check with the rest of you even though I think I know the answer.

    Here's the background - something got burned in one of my stainless steel pots (not me) and I wasn't happy with the result after cleaning it with ajax and the regular plastic scrubbing pad.

    It's steel, so I decided to just do the obvious and cleaned it with a real abrasive pad that removes metal. So far so good, got nice new shiny steel surface.
    I know from honing and restoring razors that steel is quite reactive and oxidizes easily but I thought I'd go for the trial and error and decided to just start cooking instead of waiting a couple of weeks for the surface to become a bit less reactive. I figured in the worst case food will stick badly and I may have to scrub it again.

    Well that's exactly what happened - I boiled some milk and ended up with a uniform layer of brown at the bottom (already scrubbed back to fresh steel).

    So I think I need to season the fresh steel surface and make it less reactive. I'd imagine that high-temperature smoking point fat would work just like it does for cast iron, but thought I'd post and ask. I don't think it needs extensive seasoning like cast iron with several iterations, probably just a basic heat up and cool down would suffice.
    I think it's clad with a copper middle so the conductivity would be pretty good and the stovetop would be fine.

    What do you say?

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    Moderator Razorfeld's Avatar
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    Ivan, I know nothing about seasoning stainless steel (never heard anything about that being possible). But Ajax and a plastic scrubbing pad is really not effective. Raised to use the old fashioned steel wool soap pads. Been used for years on enamel ware and stainless steel. Still using some pots and pans from my Mother's stuff and they still look good. I would suggest a couple hours soak of the afflicted pot and then a good scrubbing with the steel wool soap pad. Brillo is a good brand but the ones I get at the Dollar Store work just as good.
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    NZ's okayest dad 1997 Grazor's Avatar
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    Haven't heard of seasoning stainless, but may be worth a try. I guess it must be porous to some degree. Rice bran oil has a high temperature flash point. What did you clean it with? The smoother the finish, the less it will stick. You may have to get your 8k Norton in there....
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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Somebody mentioned this on our local FB page Ivan I will see if I can find it again for you

    Edit:

    I mis-remembered it wasn't about seasoning it was about stopping the sticking

    here is what the guy posted


    "Here is something amazing that I learned recently that helped me turn my stainless cookware into non stick. "Hot pan, cold oil, no stick" This is an old saying that really works. Get the pan hot, then oil or butter it, then quickly put food on and voila no stick! Sometimes I re-oil the pan between turning the foods."
    Last edited by gssixgun; 01-18-2015 at 03:31 AM.

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    Moderator Hirlau's Avatar
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    I don't understand the technical stuff that you describe in the O.P., but the milk burning is not a new thing to me. in the coffee shops in Miami they heat milk all the time & don't burn it. It is done with steam though,,,, the steam circulates through the milk,, key word "circulates" ,,, the milk is heated fast as it is moved around by the steam,,, no time to stick. If your using a pan, teflon or stainless heating milk requires you to keep it stirred/moving,, a PITA,, but the only way I know to pan it.

    Cleaning stainless is best done, for me that is, with vinegar & baking soda paste for the bad stuff, or just vinegar & the roughness of a paper towel to remove mild stains,, I have done the Brillo pad cleaning, but I try not to let the pan get that bad.

    After vinegar cleaning,,, olive oil rub down,,,,,,,,,,,,,or food based mineral oil.

    Just my 2 cents,,,,
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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    No, I don't think porosity is an issue, it's just steel, solid metal. It's finished much better than any cast iron pan that I own, I don't have a really old one that used to be milled to compare, but it's good. Better than 'satin' finish on modern razor

    I used whatever I had laying around for scrubbing, it's probably 3M and it was sized like a sheet of paper about 1/4" thick. Does the job of exposing fresh steel well and quickly, so that part is easy.

    I think steel wool may be softer and not really abrade the metal of the pan. Or may be there are different grades and the harder ones would be able to do it. What I used does exactly what a sandpaper would do.

    So, Richard, you are saying that after you scrub it you just cook in it without anything else and the food doesn't stick any more than usual.
    After my scrubbing to fresh steel the difference is enormous - even though I only boiled a litter of milk I've done that in the same pot for years and have never had it burn/stick to the bottom line now.

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    I used Nakayamas for my house mainaman's Avatar
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    I stumbled upon this vid a while ago, it is about seasoning stainless cookware.
    I personally have not tried that, my pans are not the quality that is worth seasoning so I can't say if it works or not, but it might be worth trying.

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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hirlau View Post
    I don't understand the technical stuff that you describe in the O.P., but the milk burning is not a new thing to me. in the coffee shops in Miami they heat milk all the time & don't burn it. It is done with steam though,,,, the steam circulates through the milk,, key word "circulates" ,,, the milk is heated fast as it is moved around by the steam,,, no time to stick. If your using a pan, teflon or stainless heating milk requires you to keep it stirred/moving,, a PITA,, but the only way I know to pan it.
    Yeah in convection heating the bottom of the container is at high temperature and transfers heat to the immediate layer of the fluid which then expands and raises to the top while cooler/denser fluid descends, gets in contact with the hot surface and eventually the whole volume heats through.
    But since the bottom is at high enough temperature it coagulate the proteins in the milk that get in contact with it and can even caramelize them (those are just different structures of the same molecules, i.e. the long chain is folded around differently). By stirring it you make sure that the milk moves quicker by the hot surface and has no time to coagulate. And with steam it's a different process altogether, there you're using the latent heat of the phase transition from condensing the steam back into water. I know, probably too much science already

    Now whether food would stick to the hot surface or not I think depends on what that surface is made of. Like when you cook eggs if you have teflon or well seasoned cast iron they won't stick to those materials, if you have just regular iron or steel or enamel they would. If you put some sort of fat between the eggs and the cooking surface they won't stick either.

    So, in my case I find that the plain clean steel that I got exposed is a surface that food sticks to and I want to modify it to something that food doesn't stick to. With iron we know how it's done, and I think it should transfer almost directly to stainless steel which is pretty close to iron, but the alloying elements may make it even easier job.

    Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar or brillo pad probably removes the food that's stuck to the surface but doesn't remove steel. So, even though it's stainless steel cookware the cooking surface is definitely not clean steel. It may be slightly oxidized steel, or modified by the cooking process (i.e. seasoned) and since now I have clean steel I want a shortcut to convert it back to whatever makes food not stick


    And, yes I think too much what's really going on when I face a problem that needs solving

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    Senior Member blabbermouth OCDshaver's Avatar
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    For my tastes, I do not want a non-stick surface on my stainless interior pans. If you have that, there is no "fond" that develops on the cooking surface. Developing flavor requires that base. I'd rather keep non-stick Teflon pans at the ready for preparations the need it than alter my regular pans

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    The original Skolor and Gentileman. gugi's Avatar
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    I want to hear more about this. Do you find there is a difference between seasoned cast iron and stainless steel. Or with anodized aluminum.

    With teflon there is a the issue of poor thermal conductivity because the teflon is basically an insulator (both electrical and thermal). I always thought that's the main factor, but what I really want to know is the real world difference that people like you can provide.

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