Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Green cleaning scorched pots & pans

The Green Man recently scorched my favorite saucepan when his writing project heated up. The smell of something burning reminded him--too late--that he'd left something cooking on the stove. He found the stainless pan caked with burnt tomato sauce with the consistency of hardened lava; we took turns scraping and scrubbing with our green cleaning arsenal--green dish soap, baking soda, Bon Ami, white vinegar-- but only a trace of the gunk came off.

While making lemon glaze for lemon cakes the other day, I reached for the scorched pan, which was just the right size. The recipe called for half a cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice mixed with half a cup of water, stirred until it boiled and then simmered for five more minutes. Because the black lava had been impossible to scrub off, I thought it had bonded to the pan.

I was wrong. As I stirred it with a wooden spoon, the bubbling lemon sauce took on a distinctly grey tinge. I decanted it into an omelet pan and kept stirring, hoping it wouldn't taste like iron filings. I left the blackened saucepan in the sink, filled with hot water and liquid soap. The lemon sauce tasted fine, soaked into the cakes.

Next morning, the Green Man found the pan in the sink, and exclaimed: "Hey! The black gunk has lifted off!" He swished it with a plastic scrubber, rinsed it out, and the pan was smooth, silvery stainless again.

I hope you never scorch a pot, but if it happens, you know what to do! To economize, I'd use just enough lemon juice and water to cover the bottom of the pot as it boils. Reduce heat, let simmer a couple minutes, then leave in sink overnight in soapy water.

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