Cooking in a stainless steel pan/pot on an electric burner, is there any way to make this combination work?

Cooking in a stainless steel pan/pot on an electric burner, is there any way to make this combination work?

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  2. Yes, sure.
    Unless we’re talking an induction range and non-sandwich bottomed stainless cookware. But in that case your problem wouldn’t be burning or sticking food, but the cookware not being heated at all…
    If you are used to cooking on a gas range, you need to keep in mind that electric ranges tend to take some time to come to temperature, and significantly longer to cool down than gas ranges. Turning the heat down just before your food starts to burn will do you no good – you’ll have to do it a while earlier, or temporarily take the pot/pan off the heat. On the flip side, you’ll also have to give the cookware, or rather the range, more time to get up to temperature before adding the cooking fat.
    If the “health issues” alluded to are to do with the fear that non-stick cookware could leach “chemicals” into your food or something along those lines: it won’t. And in case you’re still worried about getting Teflon flakes into your food, try ceramics-based non-stick coatings.
    That said: cast/forged iron and stainless cookware can work beautifully (I actually prefer them over pretty much anything else, as do many professional cooks).
    The catch is that you need to have them up to temperature before you start frying / searing stuff, and that the insides of such frying pans¹ should optimally be “seasoned” before use, and after that not cleaned with detergents². For a very basic instruction on seasoning such cookware on a stovetop, see: Tilman Ahr’s answer to Has anyone attempted to season cast iron cookware on an induction cook-top?
    Another thing to look out for when using a “conventional” electric range is that you basically need flat-bottomed pots and pans. Since the heat transfer from the (rather flat) hot plate to the pan is much more effective where there is direct contact, you can get pretty pronounced hot and cold spots with a non-flat bottom. Which will lead to sub-par results.
    Many, many millions of people the world over cook on electric ranges with no problem. Some very high-end restaurants and positively huge catering operations cook on electric ranges. It’s doable. just give it a little time and attention to figure out how it heats and cools at different settings, and you’ll be fine after a while. Basically the same goes for stainless steal or cast/forged iron.

    Yes, I maintain that seasoning uncoated stainless frying pans is beneficial. I’ve fried enough stuff with a tendency to stick in them over the years to feel my experience on the matter counts.
    Actually, a little bit of detergent to remove gunk in a well-seasoned pan is no problem. The longer a pan has been in use, the better its seasoning gets. Optimally, you can just wipe a frying pan with paper towels, or give it a quick rinse with water while still quite warm. Not while it’s at full temperature, though, as the sudden and uneven temperature change could well warp its bottom. Which isn’t much of a problem on a gas or induction range, but fatal on a “conventional” electrical one.

    10 Pcs Non Stick Cooking Set w/ Frying Pans & Saucepans

  3. Get comfortable, this is not a short answer, nor should it be. Ok, here’s the deal… When cooking in a non-Teflon coated pan food will always have the potential to stick. Maintenance and upkeep on stainless and cast iron pans are crucial, keep them seasoned (another subject). Avoid soap (cast iron) whenever possible, use a scrubbie and HOT water, allow to dry on a low heat on the stove to prevent rust/corrosion. If something is stuck on or it happens to rust, heat the pan in a 400°f oven for 15-20 minutes, pour about 1/4-1/2 cup of kosher salt and scrub with a dry towel (I can feel the doubt, but trust me). That being said, if you take care of them; they will last a lifetime, no joke. I have a cast iron skillet my mom got in 1970 and use it all the time, it’s never been cleaned using soap (one of the first chores I learned). I have personally never used a class or ceramic pan, then again, in a professional kitchen they would break. I prefer a heavy stainless steel pan (All-Clad type) for meat and fish (retains heat well) but typically use a lighter, pan for vegetables, pasta dishes and other non-seared items.
    The proper process for cooking in a sauté, frying pan, cast iron skillet, et cetera is as follows. Please keep in mind that these are guidelines not laws, different food behaves in different ways under different circumstances (lots of variables)
    1. Make sure your pan is clean from any debris and residue. (This one is law)
    2. Heat the pan (dry/no oil) until it reaches your desired temperature typically between 300°-400°. Start out on the low side of medium and be patient, if it takes longer than 2 minutes, turn it up a bit (all stoves are different). Unless you happen to have an IR thermometer, use your senses: periodically place your hand a few inches above the surface of the pan, when it starts to warm your hand, the pan is probably hot enough. However the highest setting on your stove is pretty much only useful in boiling water and stirfry (better off with an electric wok anyway).
    3. Add a small amount of oil/fat. Allow the oil to heat before adding food; the oil should look thinner (almost liquid) and move around the pan easily. Small wisps of light colored smoke are ok, dark smoke or dark oil means it’s burning/burnt and will eventually fire. In the event of a grease fire,
    do not try to use water to extinguish the flame, it will only make it worse. Turn off the stove, don’t try to take it outside or move it at all (except to remove it from the heat source). The fire needs to be suffocated, least messy ways: 1) use a lid, if there is no air flow the fire will die out; 2) liberally pour baking soda or salt on the fire until it is out (pretty much a manual fire extinguisher that costs 79¢)
    4. Add your food.
    If it’s veggies, pour them in AWAY FROM YOU while gently moving the pan (don’t add garlic first, I don’t care if that’s what Emril tells you to do: garlic will burn fast, add veggies then garlic after a minute or so)
    If it’s meat, first dry it with a paper towel and season it, use tongs or your hand to place it in the pan, don’t just toss it in and expect a good outcome (except in cases on stirfry). Allow it to cook on its first side for a few minutes (depending on cook time) flip it and let it finish.
    If it’s fish, pretty much the same as meat but you may want to slowly swirl your pan while adding the fish (lower fat content = more likely to stick).
    Lightly dredging meat and fish in seasoned flour will also help with sticking, though mentioning dietary restrictions, wheat flour may not be an option. I don’t know about dredging in gluten free flours, though I’d guess almond flour would work ok.
    The type of oil used can play a part depending on the application; typically the lighter an oil is in color, the higher the smoke point.
    Here is a basic breakdown of the most popular cooking oils:
    Sesame Oil (brown): low smoke point, should be used in cold applications or added towards the end of the cooking process an a seasoning, not a great cooking oil.
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (green): low smoke point, should be used as a finisher in pastas or at room temperature; the ‘extra virgin’ means the olives are cold pressed to extract the oil, heating it is counterintuitive and a waste of money.
    Whole Butter (yellow): low smoke point, ok for hot applications but I reccomend adding a small amount of a lighter oil prior to the butter, or clarify butter (easy)
    Olive Oil (light green): medium-low smoke point, the flavor can be a bit strong so I suggest mixing it with a lighter oil if cooking with it.
    Soybean, Canola and Vegetable Oils: (pale yellows) virtually interchangeable and good all-purpose oils. Can be used to cook or as a salad oil. If you only buy one kind of oil make it one of these.
    Clarified Butter (Ghee) (pale yellow when melted): similar smoke point to the previous group but better flavor, great for eggs, vegetables and fish (only fat I use to cook eggs), this it typically what is used in higher end restaurants in place of oil to sauté.
    Peanut Oil (almost transparent): highest smoke point (of easily attainable oils) great for high temperature searing or stirfry. May also be used as a salad oil but is a bit more expensive than the other salad oils. Also, I read that peanut oil doesn’t contain the enzyme in which people whom are allergic to peanuts react (please fact check before going into antifelaxis).
    The type of range/stove you are using is almost irrelevant. Where I live (Colorado), you are typically better off with electric cook tops; over gas, due to O2 and atmosphere. A stoves capacity of BTUs (the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gallon of water by 1° Ferenheit) is far more important than the energy source. If you’re looking to upgrade, I recommend an induction top, which uses a technology almost identicle to that of a microwave (but inside out).
    The science: as the molecules in the pan heat, they expand; closing microscopic gaps and ridges, ‘sealing’ the surface, if you add oil/fat before these gaps have closed, the oil will prevent the gaps from closing and the pan from ‘sealing’ thus leaving tiny ridges for the food to stick to. Oil being hot prevents your food from becoming greasy, and aids with the sticking situation, acting as a lubricant between the food and mental. I find the physics and chemistry elements of cooking practices fascinating.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions or I missed something.

    Non-Stick Cookware Set, Pots and Pans – 8-Piece Set

  4. Frankly I keep the burners on low-to-medium heat unless I’m trying to boil a pot of water. I’m a very conscientious cook and never let a pot/pan rest as I watch TV– if anything I ‘worry’ it too much!
    I probably do, though, put the electric heat up too high, I just don’t know what the proper heat is supposed to be. Why this system was even created, who knows.

    T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 17 Piece Cookware Set


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  6. I grew up with electric stoves. The trick is to use low heat and stir the food (and keep an eye on it as it cooks). You can’t put a burner on high and then go in another room to watch TV. Stainless steel cookware doesn’t conduct heat as well as aluminum does, so that’s another reason to be mindful of the amount of heat used and how often the food is stirred.
    Are you having problems with certain foods? Do you have enough liquid in the pot?

    Gotham Steel Pots and Pans Set 12 Piece Cookware Set with Ultra Nonstick


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