Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A quick and easy tip for cleaning pans with stubborn food bits...

     When we had guests for dinner, they brought two lovely bottles of wine; one red, one white.  We opened the bottle of Merlot and had a small glass.  When our meal was through, we went into another room and chatted.  I quickly put the leftovers away, and left the dishes for later.  After all, we were having a merry time!

     Although the dishes were eventually done, the over-half-empty bottle of Merlot was left sitting all alone, forgotten all night.  A day later, my brother, Ken, came to visit.  He and my sister-in-law, Connie, spotted the bottle on the counter and picked it up. I immediately apologized and said that I had left it out, partially recorked, and that it was no longer good.  Ken said, “Oh, don’t throw it away.  Use it for cleaning your pans; you know, when food is stuck and won’t come off?  Pour it on and bring to a boil.  It takes it right off.” So, the bottle was left, looking pretty, and waiting for an opportunity.  (I just love to look at wine bottles.  There’s something beautiful about the shape of them.)
I love the shapes of wine bottles. The colors of wine are beautiful, too!

My husband and I love to cook, so there is always something going on with pots and pans.  I just counted and have 14 skillets, sautés, and frying pans of various sizes, from quite small to somewhat enormous.  I know it seems like too many, but honestly, we use them all.  Three are iron, and most of the others are stainless steel.  Only a couple of them are Teflon types; the square ones for pancakes and grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Yikes! What a mess. Time to straighten up the sautes and skillets again. 
This isn't even all of them!
But I digress. Within a few days, we found ourselves with a pan that would NOT scrub clean.  No matter how long we scrubbed, the burnt-on residue was going to be a pain to remove.  Idea!! Why not try the red wine on the counter?  My husband poured a little into the pan and turned the heat up.  Within moments, the wine was bubbling, and when he rubbed the food with a spatula, IT CAME RIGHT OFF!  OK, so maybe it was a fluke, and all the soaking and scrubbing loosened it after all.  At any rate, the pan was shiny clean!

So, last night when I began to make a poached egg, I found some bits of something in the bottom of a small saucepan that would not easily scratch off. Since the pan had been through the dishwasher, it was doubly cooked on. Aha! Another opportunity to try the wine trick!

Lots of tiny bits of cooked-on food. 

In goes the wine, brought to a boil.
I poured a tiny bit of the Merlot into the saucepan, brought it to a boil, and passed a wooden spoon over the bits.  The wine began cooking away, so I worked quickly.

 Voila! Off they came like magic. I rinsed the pan, and it was smooth, shiny, and sparkling clean.

No bits, and super clean!

Here’s raising a glass to my favorite tip.  What a great time saver.  Thanks, Ken!

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