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How to Take Care of a Non-Stick Frying Pan

My Tefal Thermospot  in action.

My Tefal Thermospot in action.

I Love My Tefal

The one cooking utensil that I couldn't live without is my non-stick Thermospot Tefal frying pan. I do everything in it from scrambled eggs and shallow frying to making sauces, poaching, and stir-frying.

The great advantage of a non-stick pan, particularly for those on a diet, is that oil is not necessary for cooking. I find that oil can add extra flavour and, depending on the meal I am cooking, I will add or leave it out. So it is a personal choice that should not be decided for you by the type of pan you own.

Read on for tips on how to take care of any non-stick frying pan.

1. Don't Cook on High Heat

Blasting your pan with the highest heat setting can warp the pan itself and cause the Teflon coating to crack and reduce performance when cooking. It will also burn your food, so keep the temperature low to mid and have perfectly cooked food that is not burnt. This will also reduce the amount of food residue that you have to clean off afterwards.

The Thermospot in my Tefal pan tells me when I have the correct temperature to cook with by turning a solid red colour, and this is usually around 5-6 (out of 9) on my electric hob. A moderate temperature is sufficient because the pan distributes the heat evenly and prevents burning and staining.

2. Use Plastic Utensils & Storage

Utensils: It may sound obvious, but don't use metal utensils when cooking in your non-stick pan, and definitely don't cut anything with a knife in the pan. Once you scratch the surface, it's the beginning of the end. I have a selection of plastic heat-proof utensils, including tongs. This way I am sure that I cannot scratch the pan.

Storage: I have a pot hanger on my kitchen wall and my non-stick frying pan has its own hook. If I do need to hang something else with it, I ensure they sit back-to-back so that another pan cannot scratch the surface. If you are short on space and have no other choice than to stack your pans, place a piece of kitchen towel, napkin, or bubble wrap between each pan.

3. Clean Gently

The absolute worst thing you can do to your new non-stick frying pan is wash it in the sink with an abrasive sponge or scourer. You will scrub off, little by little, the protective coating of your pan and ruin it forever. And if you have a hot spot indicator in the centre of the pan, it will no longer work. Lukewarm, soapy water and a nylon sponge should be sufficient. If you just wipe out the pan with a kitchen towel, residue may be left behind and that will cook the next time you use the pan and may cause staining.

After using the pan, I like to boil the kettle, fill the pan with boiling water, and then let it simmer on the hob (on a medium heat) for a few minutes. Rinse in the sink (if necessary, use a soft cloth for stubborn residue) and then immediately dry with a soft cloth or kitchen towel. This seems to get rid of any oil or residue and keeps the non-stick surface scratch-free.

Avoid the dishwasher. The detergents used can often be too hard and wear off the non-stick coating on some pans, and if there are any scratches in the pan, they will start to rust. Cleaning by hand is always best.

Tefal Thermospot Product Description

The Tefal range of aluminium pans boast a non-stick coating on both the inside and outside of the pan for easier cleaning. The heat distribution is excellent; Tefal calls it Durabase Technology, which means the heat is distributed evenly so there are no hot spots when cooking. The bakelite cool-touch handle remains cool when cooking. The pans are suitable for use on both gas and electric hobs and are also dishwasher safe.

By turning red, the Thermospot tells you when the pan is at the optimum temperature for cooking, so no more faffing around with drops of water or oil bubbles

Tefal manufactures a wide range of non-stick pans with Thermospot Technology including frying pans (20,26 & 30cm), stirfry pan (28cm), milk pan (14cm), griddle (square), and sauce pans (16, 18 & 20cm). A set of 5 pans will set you back £99.99 (Curry's, Feb 2012).

Personal Experience

I went through two Tefal pans in as many years and couldn't work out why they weren't lasting. Then, last Christmas, I was given a new Tefal pan, and I promised myself that I would take care of it properly. A good quality pan should be in your kitchen for years to come. So what was I doing wrong?

For the first time ever I read the instructions! By and large, I have a policy of never reading instructions because I think it's more fun to work things out for myself. It turns out I was cleaning it wrong and using too high a heat to cook with. My pan was doomed from day one. I am very glad that I did read the instructions this time. With a little added internet research, I now know how to keep my pan like-new for a very long time to come and how to cook perfect meals with it.

Jamie Oliver also endorses Tefal pans. So, if Tefal's good enough for him, then it certainly is for me.

I'll Have My Pan Forever!

So there you have it, a foolproof way of preserving your non-stick frying pan. These tips work across the full range of non-stick pots and pans and will save you money in the long run and improve the quality of your cooking.

Tefal is my pan of preference, but of course, there are many different brands to choose from, and I would recommend looking at user reviews on the internet before purchasing. They can be a little expensive so you want to make sure you are making the right choice when investing in this kitchen essential.

© 2012 Nic Bouchard