December 01, 2010

A Good Friend

Every now and then, I like to post about equipment we find helpful.   I've talked about cookware and utensils and appliances, but this time around, I'm talking about something else entirely:  a cleaning product.   That might seem an odd thing to praise, but it really is pretty much essential to us.

I'm talking about Bar Keepers Friend.

Bar Keepers Friend is a cleanser and polish specifically for stainless steel, porclain, fiberglass and - especially important to us - glass cooktops.  It includes mild abrasives and is good for removing rust and cooked-on crud.  We find that last very important. 

Much as we try, sometimes when we're cooking on the stove top we spill things, or something boils over.  We have a glass-top stove, and while they are pretty sturdy, they can be badly damaged by using the wrong sort of cleaners.  Heavy abrasives or steel wool, for example, can scratch the cooking surface, which causes the glass to conduct heat unevenly.  Not surprisingly, this can result in uneven cooking, but more catastrophically, it can also cause the glass top to shatter, and the cost of replacing one of those is high enough that you might as well just replace the stove.   Some spills come off with just a wet, soapy sponge, but if something like tomato paste or a sugary sauce gets burnt on, Bar Keepers Friend does the trick.

In addition to keeping our stove top and our sinks clean, Bar Keepers Friend is useful for something less crucial, yet quite important:  It polishes and removes discoloration from stainless steel.   Now that I finally have some nice cookware, I'd like for it to stay looking nice.  Bar Keepers Friend assures that.  In fact, Tramontina specifically recommends Bar Keepers Friend for polishing and removing discoloration from their cookware.  It does a great job of removing discoloration from my enameled cast iron Lodge pans as well.

Here's an example.  Below is a picture of one of my stock pots.  I've used it for a couple months now, and over that time, it had gotten a bit of discoloration.  A couple days ago, after using it again, I decided I'd go ahead and use the Bar Keepers Friend to wash and shine it up. 

I dumped a teaspoon or so of Bar Keepers Friend on a sponge, used the sponge to wipe the inside of the pan - no scrubbing, no real effort - and below is the result.

Same shine the pan had the day I bought it.  That's the sort of results you get from this stuff, and that's why we like it so much.

Bar Keepers Friend can be found in the cleaning products aisle of most grocery stores.

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