The one thing you’re doing to your frying pans that can ruin them

If you invite me over for dinner and place your hot pans in the sink as you finish cooking, you’ll probably see me physically cringe. I’m not trying to judge; I’ve done it before, too. It’s tempting to use the sink as a way to make space on the stovetop, or maybe you have an especially disastrous pan that looks like it could benefit from a long soak.

But that sizzling sound is in an indication that something nefarious going on. Putting a hot pan in cold water causes something called thermal shock. It can ruin your pans—even the expensive ones.

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Secrets to loading your dishwasher the right way
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Secrets to loading your dishwasher the right way

Start by reading the directions

Even the best dishwasher won’t perform at its peak when you don’t load it properly. Your first clue is contained right in your owner’s manual! Whenever you buy a new dishwasher, save the manual and check for any special instructions on how to load it. If your appliance isn’t new, dig out that manual or look it up on the internet. Then follow those directions!

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You don’t have to pre-rinse

Consumer Reports went to the trouble of slathering plates, cups and silverware with an “imposing mix of peanut butter, egg yolk and other gooey stuff,” and let it sit overnight to test whether or not to pre-rinse. What they found is that although pre-rinsing isn’t necessary with most modern dishwashers, it’s best to scrape big chunks of leftover food before loading.

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Know what the top and bottom racks are for

Use the top rack for concave items such as bowls, mugs and glasses, as well as large silverware and utensils. The top rack is also where you should place dishwasher-safe plastics, to prevent them from warping. The bottom rack is for plates and platters and eating utensils (assuming your cutlery basket is on the bottom).

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Load the bottom rack so water can flow to the top

Arrange your plates and platters vertically, and stagger large and small pieces so that they don’t block the water or the detergent from getting through to the top rack. Oversized items, such as dishwasher-safe cutting boards, should go along the perimeter of the bottom rack for the same reason.

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Load the top rack so water hits the inside of your bowls

Angle bowls so they all face center and make sure not to overcrowd, which increases the risk of breakage and impedes the flow of water and detergent. Be sure to place glasses and mugs between the tines, rather than on them. Dishwasher-safe plastics also belong on the top rack, away from the heating element to prevent warping. Lay large silverware items and utensils horizontally, and make sure that long-handled utensils are secure in their places so they don’t fall through and prevent the spray arm from rotating.

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Housewife puts dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Horizontally.

After you load it properly …

Even a well-loaded dishwasher won’t perform well when it’s being fed cold water. To prevent this from happening, run your kitchen sink until the water gets hot. Keep your rinse-aid dispenser filled to make sure everything dries streak-free, too.

So next time your family breaks out into one of those “how to load the dishwasher” debates, you’ll be ready to chime in! Psst.. Don’t forget to clean your dishwasher now and then. Here’s how to give your dishwasher TLC in five easy steps.

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What is thermal shock?

There’s a lot of science here, but basically, metal expands as it’s heated. Most pots and pans are made from multiple layers of metal, like stainless steel and aluminum. They may also have an enameled or nonstick coating. Each of these materials expands and contracts at different temperatures, which you never notice when the change happens gradually. For example, when you slowly warm a pan on the stovetop or let it come down to room temperature naturally, the layers of metal expand together.

The problem arises when you introduce a sudden change in temperature, like putting a hot pan in cold water. The metals cool too quickly and the pan actually starts to pull against itself. The bigger the temperature difference, the greater the shock, but even a small amount of cold water in the bottom of your sink can cause a pan to warp, shatter, crack or chip.

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15 things you never knew your dishwasher could do
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15 things you never knew your dishwasher could do

Bake salmon fillets

Dishwashers are good for more than just cleaning your cookware; these kitchen appliances can whip up a tasty meal, too. Just for starters, wrap salmon (seasoned to your liking) in a foil packet, place it on the top rack, and run a normal cycle without soap for a hassle-free dinner. While it might not be the most efficient way to cook a meal—and it can reportedly make your dishwasher smell funky—it can’t hurt to put this fun trick to the test. Don’t miss more brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Rinse fruit and vegetables

If you still hand-wash each individual fruit or vegetable from your weekly farmer’s market haul, you’re wasting your time. Throw them all in your dishwasher and run a cold (soap-free) rinse cycle, instead, and you’ll never need to turn on your sink. Bonus tip: To protect more delicate items, such as tomatoes and peaches, place them on the top rack. Heavier produce like potatoes and cantaloupes can go on the bottom. Here are more surprising things you can clean in the dishwasher.

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De-germ your computer keyboard

Our computer keyboards are downright filthy—no exceptions. Thankfully, many experts say tossing them in your dishwasher can remove all that grime in a jiffy. But you should proceed with caution; avoid using soap and hot water, never select the heated drying cycle, and don't put anything else in the dishwasher. You should also allow your keyboard to air dry for up to three days once it has been through the wash. For a less risky cleaning, some manufacturers recommend gently wiping the surface with a damp cloth, instead. Lazy people will appreciate these fast and easy cleaning tips, too.

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Keep food warm

Let’s be honest: Keeping cooked food warm until you’re ready to eat might as well be rocket science. If your oven is full, set the dishwasher to dry cycle with no water and leave the dish on the top rack. Your meal will stay nice and toasty, guaranteed.

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Ripen avocados 

Need to ripen an avocado fast? Your dishwasher is here to help. Just throw the fruit on the top rack for one normal cycle; according to a restaurant employee, something about the heat and/or humidity can soften up these rock-hard fruits. This genius trick can ripen an avocado in under 10 minutes.

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Steam veggies

Did your stove decide to take some unexpected time off? Save the day by placing chopped vegetables—Brit+Co recommends green beans or asparagus—into a Mason jar with one cup of water and seal it shut. Then, leave the jar on the top rack of your dishwasher and run a normal cycle. You will have delicious, perfectly steamed veggies on your plate in minutes. Bon appetit!

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Sanitize makeup brushes

All the scouring and scrubbing in the world won’t make that gunk in your makeup brushes go away. Instead, try placing them in your dishwasher's silverware basket and running a normal cycle. You can do the same thing for nail clippers, hairbrushes, and combs, too. (But you should never, ever put these things in a dishwasher.)

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Cook homemade lasagna

Your dishwasher might be the next crockpot. To see what we mean, seal lasagna inside a packet of foil and run a normal cycle, selecting "heated dry" and "sanitize" for extra heat. Granted, it's faster to cook lasagna in an oven, but this trick can come in handy if you're in a pinch.

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Reuse the racks as storage

Ahh, another dishwasher bites the dust. But before you toss it out, you can actually reuse almost all of its parts. The top rack, for example, can double as creative storage for craft supplies or gardening tools. Just turn the rack on its side and hang it on a wall in your craft room or garage. Try more brilliant ways to reuse other household items.

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Organize utensils and writing supplies

Speaking of salvaging broken dishwashers, that old silverware caddy can also have a second life as a place to stash pencils, markers, crayons, or other craft supplies. You'll wish you knew these brilliant organization tips, too.

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De-grease car parts

No need to break your back making those pesky hubcaps and wheel covers spic and span; simply remove them from your car and place them in the dishwasher. With little to no elbow grease, they will shine like new—just try not to wash them with your dinner plates.

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Dry your hand-washed dishes

Hand-washing dishes is time-consuming enough without drying them all, too. Let that huge stack of delicate bowls and plates air dry in the empty dishwasher (with the door cracked open), or run the dry cycle if you're in a hurry. This clever hack will help you dry a full load of dishes fast.

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Clean fake flowers

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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Create under the bed storage

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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Warped pans are a major problem because they won’t cook evenly. They allow oil to pool on one side or the other, and they certainly won’t sit flat against an induction or electric cooktop. Even if your pan doesn’t warp, the finish can come off, and that chipped enamel or nonstick coating may find its way into your food. No, thank you!

How to properly care for your pans

The best way to avoid this type of damage is to let your pans cool down gradually on the stovetop. If you need to make space, place the pan on a trivet or another heat-proof surface—and find out the best ways to organize them once they’re clean and dry, too. If you’re using your granite countertops, be sure to wipe them clean first so the pan doesn’t accidentally sit in a puddle of water.

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Valuable items in your kitchen
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Valuable items in your kitchen

Antique stoves

If you have an 1880s stove that’s still in excellent working condition, you can get between $3,000 and $5,000 for it, Fendelman says. “The West Coast is a hotbed of old stove people,” she says. Curious if yours might be worth money? Check out the Barnstable Stove Shop, which restores and sells antique coal stoves and gas kitchen ranges.

Teapots 

One of Fendelman’s friends collects whimsical teapots. She’s paid between a few dollars to a couple of hundred dollars for them. “She has them in her kitchen and they’re beautiful,” Fendelman says. She recommends the websites Ruby Lane and Cyberattic as good resources for getting a sense of the value of kitchen collectibles. Don’t miss these 10 hidden treasures that could be in your garage.

Wall clocks

“Anything that has color, that has form, that has shape, that’s different,” is appealing to collectors, Fendelman says. She had a wall clock in her kitchen that she paid $18 for and ultimately sold for $25. “So you’re not going to get rich,” Fendelman says. “But they’re fun to decorate with.”

Cast iron

Cooking with cast iron has come back into vogue, but people are also looking for pieces they can display. One popular item? A company called Prizer developed an enamel for their cast-iron cookware that brought color to kitchens in the 1950s and 1960s, Dixey says. Pieces like that appeal especially to millennial collectors today. “It’s something that they don’t just put on a shelf and look at,” Dixey says. “They get to use it.”

Vintage toasters 

Another friend of Fendelman’s collects vintage toasters. He bought them for anywhere from $50 to $150, she says. One thing to remember: the condition is paramount in anything you’re looking to sell. “Everything has to work,” Fendelman says. “You can’t have missing pieces or missing parts. A rolling pin with one handle doesn’t cut it.”

Vintage cookbooks

“The Fannie Farmer cookbook is not a good one, but there are early cookbooks that are valuable,” Fendelman says. In fact, there’s a shop devoted to them in New York City called Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks. So if you’ve got a copy of, say, The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking on your shelf, it could be worth money. Find out what rare books could be worth a fortune.

Salt and pepper shakers 

Many people collect figural salt and pepper shakers, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse or fire trucks, Fendelman says. “They’re fun to decorate with and have on your table,” she says. For example, a set of porcelain Dachshund shakers goes for $38.

Cookie molds 

Carved wooden cookie molds made in Pennsylvania and Germany are also in demand. “They have to have figures of people on them to be really rare,” Fendelman says. A mold of an angel with a horn crafted by a master woodcarver is going for about $21.99. Here are 8 cheap things that could be worth a fortune someday.

Le Creuset Cookware

You may have gotten this premium cookware from Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel, and it retains its value. “More and more I see them on the secondary marketplace selling for almost as much as when they were new,” Fendelman says. So if you’re looking to unload your dutch oven, you might get back close to what you paid for it.

Wrought-iron cooking spoons and ladles

Utensils that date back to the 1800s are also popular among people looking to add a rustic touch to their homes. Items like this wrought-iron ladle may have peaked in public interest and Dixey doesn’t think they’ll appreciate further. “Still, $20 is $20,” Dixey notes. Next, find out what items from your childhood could be valuable.

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You should be especially careful when it comes to thin nonstick pans and cookware made with glass or stoneware, as these are the most susceptible to thermal shock. You’ll have better luck with thicker, well-constructed pans, but that doesn’t mean you should put your All-Clad stainless steel or cast-iron skillets straight into the sink. After letting these types of pans cool briefly, you can speed up the cooling process by adding small amounts of tepid water.

If you accidentally warped your pan, you may be in the market for a replacement. Before just shopping at random, take some time to look into the only types of cookware you should ever use.

The post The One Thing You’re Doing to Your Frying Pans That Can Ruin Them appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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Buy these kitchen items at a restaurant supply store
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Buy these kitchen items at a restaurant supply store

Baking sheets

I’m not sure there’s any baking tool that works harder than the classic cookie sheet—especially when it gets thumped against the oven rack. These sheets get used over and over and over again, so it’s worth investing in an industrial-grade product. That’s where your local restaurant store’s baking section comes in handy. These stores are packed with pans of all sizes (perfect for larger sheet pan dinners), and they’re all extremely affordable. A full-size sheet pan will likely run you under $10, and cookie sheet-sized trays under $4. Just be sure you aren't making these baking mistakes next time you whip up a batch of cookies!

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Cutting boards

Be sure to add cutting boards to your supply store shopping list. Available in multiple sizes for a fraction of what you’d pay at your local kitchen shop or department store, Little says that this kitchen basic is one of the most common items home cooks look out for.

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Cake decorating supplies

When it comes to shopping for cake decorating supplies, it can be hard to track down the right tip (is it just me, or is my local craft store always out of the one I want?). Restaurant supply stores offer a huge assortment of piping tips and pastry bags to satisfy all your creative decorating needs—and at more affordable prices than most shops. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a fancy decorating turntable for your most beautiful cakes ever, you’ll find those at restaurant suppliers, too!

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Whisks and other utensils

Whisks, spatulas, and wooden spoons are all easy enough to come by at traditional shops, but you definitely won’t find the same massive selection. Restaurant supply stores offer all these in dozens of sizes. Plus, these heavy-duty utensils are built to last—with high heat resistant spatulas, you don’t ever have to worry about one melting to your pan again! Find out more about these common kitchen utensils and the alternate names you never knew they had. 

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Knives

I’ll admit that I’m envious of all the beautiful knife sets I see online and when I shop kitchen stores, but sometimes these knife blocks can be on the pricey side. Instead of investing the big bucks into one of these kits, you can get a set of good, hardworking knives at a restaurant supplier for a fraction of the cost. Ranging from paring knives to meat cleavers, you can find an excellent variety.

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MIxing bowls

When it comes to the basics, like mixing bowls, there’s no need to splurge on a fancy set. Instead, shop your local supplier for dishes in every conceivable size. These stainless steel and glass bowls can withstand years of use and will cost you only a few bucks.

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Baking gadgets in all sizes

When it comes to finding multiple sizes of cookie scoops, batter dishes (perfect for filling cupcake and muffin pans) and offset spatulas, I struggle to find the options I need at a big box store. I just can’t bear to use a regular size scoop when I’m craving extra large cookies! That’s where restaurant supply stores come in so handy. You no longer have to settle for one-size-fits-all products. Instead, you can find a huge array of cookie scoops, dishes, spatulas, cupcake pans and so much more in a huge variety of sizes (and at better prices than traditional kitchen stores). Little also points out that when you find the right size tool for a given recipe “it provides a lot of consistency—you can know exactly how much a recipe will make every time.” Don't miss these 32 unique and weird kitchen gadgets you won't believe are actually real. 

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Frying pans

When I’m cooking up a storm, I find that I can never have enough frying pans. Whether you prefer nonstick, ceramic or stainless steel, restaurant suppliers offer plenty of affordable options so you can stock up and be prepared for those busy days in the kitchen. Find out more about the types of cookware you should be using at home

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Silicone mats

While I typically rely on parchment paper to line my cookie sheets, I can’t help but want a few reusable silicone mats to ease the process (is it just me or do you cut the wrong size half the time?). I’ve always been reluctant to invest in these silicone baking sheets because most department stores sell them for about $25 each—now multiply that by the number of trays you can pop into an oven at once and you’ve got a huge investment. Luckily enough, restaurant supply stores sell these silicone mats for about a third of the price. Little explained that they’re one of the most popular products she sees home cooks buy.

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Specialty tools

Some kitchen gadgets and tools are more difficult to find than others. Whether you’re looking for a madeleine mold for those delicate cookies, a crepe pan for French desserts or a giant pizza peel for homemade pies, restaurant supply stores are a great resource for these hard-to-find items.

While unexpected, these industrial suppliers are a great resource for even home cooks. You’re likely to find a few great tools at a great price, and at the very least, as Little puts it, “It’s just really fun to look around.”

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