Do you ever feel like there’s a bit of an Insider’s Club, when it comes to stainless steel in the kitchen? Is it maybe just a little intimidating? If you visit a restaurant supply, it’s packed full of stainless steel shelves, kitchen tools, food prep pieces and serving ware.
Likewise, if you watch any cooking shows on TV, they are centered around a lot of gleaming stainless steel counters and surfaces. Even someone who is totally unfamiliar with cooking would soon pick up on the idea that stainless steel is special - and that it’s a desirable part of any self-deserving chef’s work area.
Other than the fact that it’s lovely to look at, what makes this metal superior to all the others? Why not plastic, or ceramic? How did stainless steel reach this level of respect and admiration? And, most importantly - what’s in it for you? Why stainless steel?
It’s true that stainless steel is probably already in your consciousness because of a previous medical visit, former restaurant job, or simply because you’ve watched a lot of movies. It is a constant presence in any set up that requires fast easy cleaning and disinfecting.
Although there are other materials that can provide the density and clean-care of steel, they are not always as practical. Here are just three of the reasons that stainless steel has become a favorite in the kitchen.
Stainless Steel is Strong
Strong as steel, as they might say. The metal is made from steel, yes - but with chromium added to the mix at a level of at least 10.5%.
Chromium does a couple of things to the iron that improves it for hard use. First, it adds a thin layer of chromium oxide to the surface. This protects it from corrosion - which all steel will undergo if it’s exposed to the oxygen in the air. This layer also makes stainless steel self-repairing, as far as surface scratches and rubs. Secondly, it can handle heat well. This is why it’s commonly used in cooking.
All together, that addition of chromium is what makes stainless steel stainless, corrosion-proof and heat-resistant. It’s a great match - tough, easy to clean and disinfect, and versatile.
Stainless Steel is Easy to Maintain
You’ve probably seen some of the home renovation shows where they’ve pulled out old hospital stainless steel cabinets and furniture, given them a good blast from a pressure washer, and they still looked fabulous. How about some of those heirloom kitchen pieces that belonged to your parents or grandparents? Rummage around in a drawer, and you may be looking at a decades-old ladle or serving spoon. Stainless steel really does last forever.
The ability to stay clean is why these old pieces are still around. There’s really no special type of cleaning product needed to maintain the good looks of stainless steel. Soap and water work just fine - or any other cleaner, if it’s not too abrasive. Really harsh cleaners just aren’t needed.
To maintain the luster, there’s no sealing or gloss needed. If you’d like to keep your stainless looking lustrous, simply wipe it down with a bit of lemon oil on a damp cloth. Follow the grain of the steel, and then buff it lightly with a soft dry towel when you’re done.
Stainless Steel is a Classic
Even with the other factors, such as heat resistance, general toughness, and low maintenance, one of the most appealing things about stainless steel is its looks.
It’s a true classic. Used in a kitchen, it looks great paired with stainless steel appliances, sinks, counters and shelves. It works well with aluminum and silver out on the table. Stainless is one of the few metals that can transfer seamlessly from the kitchen to the dining table and still look great.
Even on the commercial side, the look of the kitchen is becoming more and more of a feature of restaurants. Although some things stay behind the scenes, it’s become quite normal to have a kitchen set-up that’s designed to wow the customers and blend with the restaurant decor. Using stainless steel, this is possible. It adds the professional-level features while it goes with any environment.
It’s hard to find materials that match the qualities and value of stainless steel in the kitchen. If you’ve ever spent any time working in a restaurant, you know for yourself that stainless steel is unmatched for durability, good looks, and ease of cleaning. It allows for disinfection when necessary, can handle the heat of a pot straight off the stove, and goes for years without problems from scratching and corrosion.
Take a look at some of our stainless steel floating shelves to see how you can incorporate the professional features of this metal in your own kitchen. The same attributes that have made chefs happy for decades will also make your own cooking experiences more enjoyable.
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