Getting All-Clad All Clean Again

Q: How do you get high-end pots and pans, like All-Clad, shiny again? Mine look like they’ve been through a war.
Hester David, Pound Ridge

A: You mean you actually cook with those expensive pots and pans? What did you expect? I’m assuming your pots are stainless steel, rather than the copper-clad Cop-R-Chef line, which is so high-maintenance that everyone just witters on about the appealing “patina” when the luster is gone.

I called Chef Central in Hartsdale (914-328-1376), which apparently has every type of cookware known in this hemisphere, and posed your question to a pleasant lady who prefers to go by the name Anonymous. “Bar Keeper’s Friend,” Ms. Anonymous instantly replied. “That’s what All-Clad recommends, and we agree, with great affirmation. It’s awesome for stainless steel, copper, porcelain — it takes rust off chrome. There’s a powdered version, and a liquid. You have to make a paste with the powder, and it will scratch a little, but I think it packs more of a punch. The liquid is idiot- proof. You can even use it on non-stick,” she added.

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Sounds simple. Immerse the pots in warm water, then lift them out and apply the paste or the idiot-proof liquid using a soft cloth — nothing abrasive. Rub in a circular motion and then wash the pot again in warm water and dry it right away.

Naturally, there are websites devoted to the care and nurturing of expensive cookware, where owners swap folksy remedies for common problems such as gunk build-up around the rivets. These include making a thick paste of either baking soda and water or cream of tartar and water, which you apply with a toothbrush (a battery-powered one gets the gunk off faster).

One All-Clad owner swears by Shaklee Get Clean Scour Off, a product endorsed by no less a domestic diva than Oprah as one of her “Favorite Things.” (And if you think she’s actually scoured off anything in the past couple of decades, I have a proposition for you.) Like all Shaklee products, its ingredients are green and non-toxic—in this case, corn and coconut surfactants—and it allegedly puts paid to soap scum and baked on food and grease in a flash. A quick double-check revealed Shaklee doesn’t recommend using Get Clean Scour Off on stainless steel, however. You decide.

Interior stains, like the white residue that won’t wash off, or the blue or brown stains caused by the metal’s chemical reaction to foods or from being exposed to high heat, may be banished by a short soak in a solution of ammonia and warm water. Other remedies include wiping with that all-purpose cleaner, club soda (I hear some people drink it, too). More effective is to use a cloth moistened with white or cider vinegar.

One website commentator conducted experiments and found that the best treatment for interior stains is to add 4 tablespoons of white vinegar to 2 quarts of boiling water in the pot (double up if you have a big one), let it bubble for a minute, then dunk the whole thing into a sink of hot water and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes more. After it cools down, you can attack with the Bar Keeper’s Friend to get that mirror-like shine back.

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