Kitchen Chemistry Short Cuts?

I do not claim to know or remember much of my organic chemistry I took for my nursing program, (been a nurse 12 years now) much less the high school chemistry I took in the 198os but a few things have “stuck”.

I remember learning more or less why acids like lemon juice and vinegar make effective degreasers. Vinegar (or even ketchup) can take tarnish off copper, and putting something oily like butter can take sticky adhesive bits off (like stickers or a price tag)

What I am wondering is there some kind of simple ingrediant thing like this that will work with scrambled eggs stuck on a pan. We are moving toward using my stainless steel frying pans rather than buying more Teflon, and everything is pretty good (with enough butter or canola oil or water in the pan) but scrambled eggs still require a good scraping/scouring. It made me grumpy all day yesterday cleaning out that stupid pan.

I figure with the collective wisdom of the Dope I will find something quickly.

Soak it in hot soapy water.

Add water to dirty, egged-up pan.

Put on stove and bring to boil.

Scrape with plastic utensil.

place some amount of water in pan, a drop of dish detergent, whisk until bubbly, let soak.

if that doesn’t work well enough in your time frame then put that on a very low simmer on the stove top. caution here to not forget it (set a timer) because letting this go dry can ruin the pan and worse yet be a fire hazard.

also the less scratches on surface from metal utensils and cleaning the better the pan will be.

Um ok, thanks, anything else other than hot water, dish soap and muscle? (All of which I use, and i soak my pans, its when someone else does the cooking it becomes a headache)

Acids are not particularly effective degreaser. The ability to remove tarnish is not synonymous with degreasing. Good work on your part, however, remembering using oily substances to cut adhesives.

For your egg removal, I would do a Google for “household hints” and maybe try some, keep notes, start a blog on what works, and so forth.

Sometimes online, someone will show up and say close to what you’ve said – they assume simple college level chemistry can solve everything. I used to frequent a science message board where that would happen. And the world simply doesn’t work that way. Yes, chemistry has done some amazing things, but not all problems are the same.

I have a dedicated Teflon coated pan, actually two, that I use for eggs of any sort. They are the cheap ones for the same reason you stated, It’s only a problem when other people cook.

The best way to cook eggs in Stainless is simply let it heat up thoroughly so the egg can instantly cook when it hits the oil creating a skin that will help keep it from sticking.
When scrambling, let it cook until almost done, then scramble it up and get it out of the pan. Let the pan soak in hot soapy water while you eat.

This is just my experience, YMMV. The reason I use the Teflon myself is that I hate that rubbery skin caused by the high fast heat method.

Yeah…just buy a cheap Teflon pan at the dollar store and use it for your eggs. When it warps or chips (as it inevitably will), go buy another pan for a buck.

Seriously, there are lots of kitchen tips for cleaning things stuck on pans, but eggs are the real bitch of the kitchen. When my son has used the wrong pan for eggs, the best thing is about half an inch of water with a bunch of baking soda in simmered in it, but it’s still a lot more work than buying a pan for a buck once a year.

Well, this is still within that realm, but I have found that putting some hot water in and then sprinkling a layer of powdered dishwasher detergent works better than plain dish soap.

I would agree with the poster above who pointed out that your egg cooking technique may require some adjusting. If the pan is too hot or not hot enough, the eggs will stick, regardless of how much butter/oil/lube you put in there. Also, cold food thrown into a hot pan = food sticks. Best let the eggs sit out in the counter while you prepare other ingredients so they come closer to room temperature. Then bring pan to the right temperature… then toss in the eggs.

Other than that, adding a bit of water and soap and boiling stuck food off a pan was pretty much the technique I had to learn in high school because my stepmother burns everything she cooks.

Ok, well damn, I was hoping something magical like “blank…disolves eggs” but guess if that’s all we got, then that’s all we got. I rarely stick my eggs, because I like them fried sunny and a bit runny and I cook 'em in butter but I really can’t complain when someone else cooks. (Micro managing a breakfast “hubby” cooks is not only bad form, but leads to a lot less breakfasts made by said “hubby.”) Also Im just sick of disposable crap, I have these nice set of heavy stainless steel pans that don’t warp or burn food too quick, I love the pots that are in the same set, and want to use the pans without spending undue time dealing with the remains. If it means I cave and buy a teflon eggs only pan, then I will. Don’t have to like it though.

My apologies if I sound like a person who asks for advice and then won’t take it, I was just hoping for something cooler than what I generally due already. I might try the dishwasher detergent idea, I have a box left of that somewhere, from before the dishwasher became me.

Oh, I understand, and I went through the same angst when I got my beautiful “forever” set of awesome stainless pots and pans with beautiful copper rings on the bottom. I so wanted them to be the only pots and pans I ever use.

Then I got sick of scrubbing and using half a can of Barkeeper’s Friend every time I cooked eggs, and so I broke down and got one single ugly cheap teflon pan just for eggs. I hide it under the pretty stuff in the cabinet. :wink:

The very things that make eggs such good “binders” in casseroles and baked goods (proteins in a liquid matrix) make them stick so well to pans.

Hot water is the worst thing for getting eggs off a pan. It cooks the proteins further onto the surface. Cold water first to release them.

I have to agree with WhyNot. Every kitchen show and guide to housewares/kitchen gadgets I can recall basically say to have a main set of good cookware, usually stainless, but also to make sure to always have at least one, if not two (a small and a large) cheap, Teflon non-stick pan…and oftentimes they even disclaimer that by saying they are just for eggs. :smiley:

Or you could try the advice about being more careful with heat distribution and learn to cook your eggs properly. Your question isn’t a chemistry question, it’s a physics question (heat distribution). You are cooking your eggs at the wrong temperature.


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Since you asked about kitchen chemistry shortcuts, the one I remember that might help is making a paste of vinegar and cream of tartar and using that to clean the pan. I think it’s more for the blackness that you get baked on something used in the oven or the drip pans from the stove, but you might try it.

I used to work in a restaurant that did weekend brunch, and it was busy. The owner wouldn’t spring for non-stick pans, so we had to use the stainless ones for eggs. We’d fill the sink closest to the stovetop with lukewarm water, a small amount of soap, and then after each order was done we’d throw the pan into the soaking sink, and grab the next pan. Once we got close to the end of the pile, we’d yell for someone who was on prep to get us some pans - they’d come over to the sink, give the soaking pans a quick wipe, and they’d be ready to go, no need for scrubbing, no time to put them through the machine.

Low and slow is the tempo with eggs, yes, but our only concern was getting the eggs down the gullets of hungover d-bags as fast as possible, so the high temp cook and soaking sink method was our only option, and it worked fine. Sorry I can’t give you a neato short cut but this one at least doesn’t require to much elbow grease. When I cook eggs at home now it’s basically one motion when they’re done: eggs onto plate, pan into filled sink. By the time we’ve finished breakfast and coffee, the pan just needs a quick wipe and it’s clean.

Getting rid of crud from stainless steel pans, increasing in effectiveness and work.

  1. Hot water in a hot pan, basically only do this if the recipe calls for it.

  2. COLD liquid on a hot pan - turn off/lower the heat, add cold water. This also works for getting sticky but tasty stuff into sauces. This works much better than you might expect - use a brush if you’re really just cleaning the pan.

  3. Soak in cold water. Then add some hot water and scrub.

  4. Dishwasher or dishwashing soap/brush.

  5. (after the above has failed) Add some scouring powder to the dry pan. Use a wet rough sponge to scrub it.

How much did you get paid per hour? How much did the dishwasher get paid per hour? Add up the cost of hours and hours and hours of the owner spent paying some poor slob to scrape coagulated eggs out of stainless steel pans, then compare that to the $4 he would have spent to get an el cheapo teflon pan from Walmart.

Well, in my post I did point out that nobody spent hours scrubbing coagulated eggs off of anything, but yes, restaurant owners are often clueless when it comes to outfitting the kitchen. He simply saw that we had many, many pans, and why would we need more? Not really understanding the difference, and assuming we were just complaining for the sake of complaining. So we made it work.