No matter your kitchen configuration, It seems like there is just never enough room for cookware. So just how can you prevent pots and pans from getting scratched up and damaged, especially if you have items from various manufacturers made from all different materials? We asked experts for tips on keeping your precious kitchen pieces looking great.
Find What Works For You
Depending on the size and layout of your kitchen (and if handles have holes to accommodate hanging), you might have the option of overhead pot storage, a wall pegboard or pull-out cabinet organizers or drawers. The latter two options are best for ease of access, according to Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for Cuisinart, who recently replaced her pull-out cabinets to drawers, which she finds easier to work with.
“You just have to do a lot of stacking and watch how high you do it or you can damage the frame of the drawer,” she cautions. To save space at home, Bobby Griggs, vice president for Heritage Steel Cookware, said he and his wife relocated specialized pans only used a few times a year to the pantry; if you don’t have a pantry, stash them on a bedroom closet shelf or in the basement.
Space-Saving Hacks Are Your Friend
Of course, not everyone is blessed with a large kitchen with copious amounts of storage; if not, consider nesting your cookware, which allows it to take up 30% less space. This solution admittedly works best if you have a full set or companion pieces from one brand or one line, but it’s not a requisite. Abbio makes a line of modern, timeless, fully-clad cookware engineered for daily use and easy cleanup, including a five-piece set ($287) touted as “all the cookware you’ll ever need.”
Each piece comes with a silicone hot pad that doubles as a protector between nested pieces. If you go in for the set, co-founder and CEO Jonathan Wahlf recommends storing the set in two small stacks. The first tops the small nonstick skillet with a hot pad then the sauce pan, with the lid facing upside down to reduce the height in small cabinets; the second tops the large nonstick skillet with the hot pad, the sauté pan and lid (upside down) and the stock pot and lid (upside down).
“By resting each stainless piece on the inverted lid of the item below it, everything nests together nicely and is easily accessible when it’s time to cook,” he says. Griggs suggests stacking fry pans upside down on top of sauté or sauce pots. “This allows the handle slope to slope toward the bottom of the drawer and use up dead space.”
It’s All About The Base
The material from which your cookware is constructed will determine how susceptible it is to scratches, dents and dings, according to Rodgers. So if you aren’t, ahem, a careful cook when grabbing items out of cabinets, you might want to select pots and pans that can withstand rough handling and storage. “Materials like all aluminum bend and warp where multi clad products are far less susceptible,” she points out. “Anodized aluminum can get marks on it depending on what it comes in contact with, [while] non-stick surfaces can be scratched with cutting implements and improper use of utensils.”
Griggs adds, “The introduction of non-stick back in the 1980s has had a long effect on consumers scared to actually use a pan and maybe have a surface mark on a pan.” He admits that stainless steel might pick up surface marks over time from storage and use of metal utensils, but says it’s more about aesthetics than actual damage or wear-and-tear. “We use our cookware and expect them to look used,” he says.
Stainless, along with carbon steel and cast iron, have very strong damage-resistant surfaces, but coated and non-stick pieces are best protected with parchment paper, thin pieces of foam or felt pads, Rodgers says.
Cast Iron: An Exception To The Rule
Enameled cast iron pieces, like Dutch ovens, are incredibly durable and will be cornerstones in the kitchen for generations to come, but they do have their own unique storage considerations. Be sure to thoroughly dry cookware after use and store it in a location away from steam and moisture, with the lids on right-side up. If you are keeping enameled cast iron in a particularly hot or cold location, allow it to acclimate to the ambient temperature before cooking with it.
“Keep in mind that cast iron is heavy, so ideally, you should store it in a cupboard or shelf that you can easily get, for safety when lifting,” says Danielle Wecksler, senior manager for product and culinary marketing at Le Creuset. If you prefer to display your enameled cast iron, she recommends this tapered 8-tier cookware stand from Enclume, which is forged from solid steel and can hold the weight. Remember that the enamel coating can chip or scratch, so lift rather than slide pots out of cabinets, and take care not to bang them together.
If you must stack or nest enameled cast iron or store the lids upside down, Wecksler recommends Le Creuset’s soft and cushiony felt pan protectors between each piece. Alternatively you can reach for dishcloths, silicone trivets, shelf liners, bubble wrap or paper towels. “For pots with a lid, another clever idea is to keep the little plastic pot lid spacers that come with the pot,” she advises. “These help prevent chips and scratches on the top edge of a Dutch oven and also allow air to circulate inside the pot.”