How to Clean a Pot with Baked-On Food
Whether it's soup, stew, sauce, or something else entirely, here's what to do.
You know how it goes: You left dinner simmering on the stove for too long-perhaps you even forgot it was there!-and now it's cemented to the bottom of the pot. Although it may seem like a mess that'll be impossible to clean, never fear. You can get your cookware back in working order. Here's what you need to do to get your pots looking clean and shiny again.
First, dislodge as much of the food as you can with a sponge or kitchen brush. Removing as many stuck-on bits as possible from the start makes the rest of your cleaning work less challenging. Then, consider the material of your cookware. If the pan or pot is cast iron (but not if it's enamelled cast iron), cover the burnt areas in coarse salt and scrub with a dishcloth. Otherwise, fill the pot with water and add 1/4 cup baking soda; bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot soak for an hour.
After you dump out the liquid, scrape off any remaining food bits with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula; avoid metal utensils, which can permanently scratch the surface.
Senior editor (and resident homekeeping enthusiast) Elyse Moody used this method to remove burnt-on Bolognese sauce from her Dutch oven, and she's offering her best bit of advice for you. "If your pot is totally scorched like mine was, keep repeating the process by adding more baking soda a little bit at a time," she says. "Soon, even the toughest marks will vanish."