Tips on How to Deal with Burnt Foods

Pan with burnt hashbrowns and a spoon with the burnt hashbrowns on it.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

#1: burnt-on food

Ever smelled food burning, only to find a thick crust of charred food covering the bottom of a pan? Scrubbing all that crud away seems completely impossible and I used to think the pan was ruined. Until I discovered this simple trick that has saved my pans countless times now!

“First, wash away what you can. Don’t stress about scrubbing off stuck-on crud; just pick off any loose stuff. Fill the pan with about an inch of water and put in about 1/4 cup of
baking soda. “Bring it to a boil and let it boil awhile; 5 to 10 minutes is usually enough. Once cooled enough to handle but still warm, scrape at the crud with your fingers. You’ll find much of it crumbles away easily!

You’ll still need to use some “elbow grease”, that is, scrubbing, to get the worst part off, but there usually is much less really stuck onto the pan. If there is a lot you can’t get off, boil fresh water with more baking soda. Now that you’ve removed the top layer, the baking soda can go to work on the next section for you. Up to now I’ve never had to do this more than twice. This scrubber cloth has been my absolute favorite for working on pans with burnt-on food: Buy scrubber cloth on Amazon

#2: Prevent burning food

OK, I have a confession. One day I was warming up some leftover polish sausage with onions and peppers for dinner. After setting the pan to warm up on my stovetop, I went to another room to read while I waited. I began to smell my dinner and was thinking “Man, somebody’s cooking something yummy!”, but didn’t make the connection that my dinner was probably heated up now. I live in an apartment building and it’s common to smell others’ cooking. It wasn’t until I started smelling food burning that it hit me that this was my food!

I learned a nifty way to remind yourself you’re cooking when my city’s fire department chief gave a fire safety seminar at my apartment building. When you leave the kitchen while cooking, take a wooden spoonwith you. As he said, “So I’ll be sitting there, watching Jeopardy, and look down and hey, why am I holding this wooden spoon? Oh! I better go check on dinner.” It’s saved my skin a few times. 

Setting a timer helps, but there are various reasons why they fail me. For one, if I’m in another room I may not hear it. Or if I’m waiting for water to boil, I may not set a timer. Once I had a timer fall out of my pocket unnoticed as I used the bathroom and then I didn’t hear it go off. So holding onto a wooden spoon makes a great reminder that I’m cooking.

#3: messes on the ceiling

Talking about burnt food, do you know what is the absolute worst food to burn? It’s hard-boiled eggs! They don’t smell as they’re cooking, so it’s easy to forget them. (Here’s where you need to use tip #2!) And, if you let the water boil dry, the eggs will EXPLODE! Once I set eggs to hard-boil in a small saucepan on the right-side burner of my stove and forgot them. When I remembered, I found the lid to the saucepan literally 4 feet away, across the long counter between my stove and the fridge, and up on top of the fridge. And guess where the eggs were? Stuck up on my ceiling! No lie.

So, do you try to step up on a chair or climb a ladder to clean them off the ceiling with a rag? I didn’t. What I did was I used a broom and “swept” the ceiling to knock the eggs down. Then I could wipe off my stove and sweep the floor easily without worrying about losing my balance.

Products List

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Products List Description of products.
Buy scrubber cloth on Amazon A washable scrubber cloth that will scrub everything.
baking soda. resealable 5 pound bag of Baking Soda that is gluten free. Great for every household!

By Jen Hawkins

Jen is totally blind and deaf with bilateral cochlear implants. She received her high school education from Hadley School for the Blind and is currently training to do accessibility testing for digital content. She lives independently with her second service dog, Ray. Jen enjoys cooking, reading historical fiction, and animals, especially turtles.

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