How to make your own non-stick pan
JUNE 25 — If there is one thing that drives me nuts, it’s walking through shopping centres and seeing through the corner of my good eye the huge selection of branded and very expensive non-stick pans that I know will not last if used regularly.
I remember my better half purchasing a very expensive non-stick pan and showing it to me with an enthusiasm that could only be equalled if she had won the lottery. Those days we used to have a housekeeper who came in once a week and after her visit a couple of days later the pan was scrubbed for hours to get “all the burnt blackness” off of the what she thought had been a poorly utilised pan!
In the hotel industry, many of the old style establishments would never purchase non-stick pans; one reason was in the “old days” they did not even exist and another was that for heavy usage they would never last long.
They would get inevitably scratched, dented, burnt, broken, smashed and even stolen, so to avoid this they would make their own non-stick variety that would be hardened, sturdy and last forever.
I have done this many times personally and this is how it’s done:
When I was conducting my training during the ‘70s, there was no such thing as non-stick pans and they would use cast iron, very heavy and durable pans which needed to be “seasoned” for them to be able to be labelled as non-stick.
On receiving a new, straight-from-the-supplier, cast iron frying pan or sautéing pan, we used to first place it on a solid stove top, empty with absolutely nothing inside and get it so hot that it would be smoking.
We would then place enough course sea salt in the smoking hot pan to cover its entire cooking surface until it was about 2cm thick. We would leave the hot pan on the stove with the salt and very slowly burn and cook the pan with the salt inside. The salt will very slowly “cook”; it would smoke, burn and turn a dark brown colour.
We would then discard the salt in the bin, get a piece of cloth (anything like a piece of old bath towel or face cloth) dip it in oil and sparingly wipe or rub the pan until the hot metal absorbs the oil making the pan shiny.
Then we would place the pan back on to the stove and when the pan was smoking hot, we would them wipe the pan clean with another piece of kitchen towel and then proceed with the whole process all over again from the beginning.
After doing this two or three times, the metal would have absorbed the oil, making the metal very shiny, “seasoned” and achieve a homemade non-stick effect.
I encourage everyone to have a go at this yourself and when you have done this you need to try out the pan by making an omelette; if the eggs stick, you have to start all over again until the pan cooks an omelette without the eggs sticking.
The act of “seasoning” the pan may take a few days, a week or more than a week, but it is definitely a loving care process.
It is VERY important to know that this kind of pan, once seasoned, can never be washed in water; they are just wiped clean with a dry kitchen cloth or paper towel. Water and this type of non-stick pan are the worst enemies, washing the pan with soapy water will ensure that you have to start the whole process again from the very beginning.
Please do note that the pan during the cooking process with be incredibly hot and the salt will also absorb all of the heat from the pot. This heat will give you a very nasty burn if touched by your naked flesh. Great care should be taken here and children should not be anywhere near the kitchen when this process is under way.
Once any metal, which includes a barbecue grill, pots and pans or skillets, absorbs enough oil and becomes seasoned, nothing will ever stick to it again if you take care of it in a loving manner.
Even when you are using a barbecuing grill, you must rub the grill irons with an oily cloth enough times to ensure the metal has absorbed it. The metal will look moist and shiny and no food will stick to this metal.
If the bars are hot, very dry and dull, anything you add to this grill will immediately stick and when you pull away the food half of it will still be stuck to the grill bars and then burn.
Metal which is used for cooking needs to be seasoned with oil and this takes patience, time, tender loving care and lots of effort, but once you get the pan the way you want it, protect it with your life as you will be the envy of the chef community.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.