Bottom Line: Consumer Reports explains how to care for your nonstick pans

Bottom Line: How to take care of your nonstick pans

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/CONSUMER REPORTS) - Most home chefs know that you need a good nonstick pan in your collection of kitchen tools. They’re great for everything from eggs to pancakes to grilled cheese sandwiches. But they work only if the coating is in good shape. Consumer Reports reveals some easy tips to keep your non-stick pans working year after year.

Metal utensils have done in many a nonstick pan. Once the coating is scraped or scratched, food will stick to the surface and the pan will be harder to clean. Use wood, silicone, or plastic utensils on your nonstick pan.

And to protect the surface, don’t stack anything inside the pan. Calphalon warns that storing pans or lids in its nonstick pans will void the warranty. If you must stack to save space, place a small towel or potholder on the surface for protection.

Another culprit that can damage your nonstick pans is cooking spray. If you want your pans to last longer, don’t use it on them. These sprays can adhere to the nonstick surface, and over time this buildup can cause food to stick to it.

Because nonstick pans are so easy to clean, it’s tempting to take them right from the stovetop to the sink. But never submerge a hot nonstick pan in cold water. They can warp, and a warped pan won’t sit on the burner properly or heat up evenly.

Consumer Reports puts nonstick pans through an aggressive abrasion test.

Steel wool is used to test the surface of nonstick pans, something you should never use on them. And some coatings are more resilient than others. To make your pan last longer, always use nonabrasives to clean it.

Finally, if there’s buildup on the surface of your pan, don’t toss it! Swiss Diamond suggests degunking it by rubbing in a paste of baking soda and water, scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge, then washing it off.

Consumer Reports says that unlike a cast-iron pan, don’t expect your nonstick pan to last for generations. The coating will eventually wear out and you’ll have to replace the pan. A midpriced pan that does well in CR tests may suit most budgets and cooking needs.

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