The Cottage Smallholder

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Washing up

washing baked on foodYears ago I met someone who had been a kitchen porter on a cruise ship. This meant that he had all the lowliest jobs including washing up at the end of the evening. This was the one duty that he loathed. He resented the time scrubbing away whilst the rest of the team were playing pool in the bar. The life was pretty good apart from the two hours a day battling with the pots.

So he hatched a plan. There must be something that would eat up all the caked-on food and fat. So rang a friend who was an up and coming research chemist.

When he came home on leave he met the chemist in a pub and a large bottle of some sort of acid was passed under the table and secreted in the inner pocket of his heavy winter coat.

“When you are back on ship and faced with a monstrous pile of pans, pour a capful of this solution into the water in the sinks and submerge the pans. Leave them for 30 minutes and then rinse them well. Never, ever, divulge your secret or your source.”

Wearing a pair of heavy duty drain gloves, he lowered the pots into the solution. It worked liked magic. Within half an hour the pots were sparkling. From then on, he’d rinse them out carefully and join his pals in the bar.

The team was bemused. The pots had never been so clean.

He did admit that the hefty catering quality saucepans were feeling the acid by the end of the trip as the handles were getting a bit wobbly. Shortly after he stepped ashore he got a strong foothold on the alternative comedy circuit so never needed to go to sea again

This evening I ventured onto the internet to try and discover what he might have used. It was probably hydrochloric acid. I discovered this pan cleaning thread in a forum. With advice regarding chemicals if you scroll down the page.

I have never had to resort to anything so potentially dangerous. My mum gave me a great tip ages ago for getting rid of baked on food in pans. It’s simple and works like a dream.

Put the pan on the top of the stove cover the base with at least half an inch of cold water and a couple of tablespoons of washing powder. Set the temperature to the lowest setting and leave to slowly reach simmering point. Let the pan simmer gently for a few minutes and leave to soak. The baked on food usually lifts of easily when scraped with a wooden spoon.

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  1. Fiona, I do indeed remember those kettles. As a child I was once sent indoors to put the kettle on at my great aunt’s house. Having never come across an electric kettle before I promptly lit the gas ring and placed the kettle on it. Fortunately someone else noticed before any harm was done! I think the confusion arose because the kettle lived on a mat over one of the rings …

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    Some foil wrapping from an Easter egg had secreted itself into the plug duct of the kettle (do you remember when kettles were actually plugged in rather than placed on a mat? So we were boiling a saucepan for coffee and drifted upstairs to look at the computer…

    We don’t have a microwave but your method sounds great!

    Very into steamers. Our Hackman baskets sit above another saucepan and do the trick perfectly.

  3. Hello Fiona

    That must have been some mighty cooking going on to render a Hackman pan useless. As a family, we believe that rice is the main constituent of the meal and therefore cook large quantities of it regularly. Really, why would you eat fish without rice? I feel very insecure if I don’t have enough rice in to start a famine relief programme somewhere in the world. We used to have a large and cumbersome dedicated rice cooker which produced excellent rice. But that was all it did. Fine if your kitchen is the size of those at Audley End perhaps but certainly not in mine. I use the microwave method now, washed rice in a pyrex jug, tiniest smidgeon of salt (sometimes)and boiling water to about the first knuckle of your index finger above level of the rice – this is where the glass jug comes in really handy. 10 mins in the micro, occasionally an extra minute if the water level was too high and you are done. Best thing is it stops cooking when the bell rings so no burnt pans – working on the prevention being better than a cure principle here! Steaming is great too. I have a Hackman steamer with 2 steaming baskets. I find it some much more versatile than the idea of an electric steamer and I can cook an entire meal on one ring of the stove. Very economical.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    Much mum reduced a Hackman pan to a blob of molten metal on the cooker here once!

    Oxtail, yummy!

    Hi S.O.L.

    Everyone that I talk to says that rice cookers are wonderful and vegetable steamers but we’ve run out of space.

    Hi Magic Cochin

    Nice one!

    Hi Jane

    Thanks for the tip.

    Hello Beth

    Hope that it works for you.

    Hi Kethry

    I reckon that it probably would work for scrambled egg.

    Hi Natasha

    This is good news. D drinks black tea and the mugs get very stained.

    Hi Joanna

    Thanks for the tip. It probably works better than washing powder as it’s designed for the job, so to speak.

    Hi Clare

    It might be worth buying bio powdwer just for cleaning the pots!

    We clean silver with packs of ‘silver dip’. This must be the same thing – thanks so much for this!

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