Good food requires three things: fresh ingredients, a skilled chef, and most of all, clean pots and pans. Think about it: You could have an Iron Chef cooking with fresh produce from his or her own garden, but if the pots and pans are a mess, the food will be too. That means the most important kitchen tool should be a good, old fashioned scrub brush. Without one, you can say goodbye to tasty dishes that will keep customers coming back. This guide gives you a place to start, providing the basics of pot and pan scrub brushes, so you can make an informed decision and successfully upgrade your kitchen.
A scrub brush is a scrub brush, right? It's just a handle and some bristles - no bells and whistles, so what's the big deal? Well, a scrub brush is not as simple as you might think. Yes, it has a handle and bristles, but what type of handle and bristles are necessary for the task at hand? Those are important questions to consider if you are going to get the most out of your brushes.
The most important factor to consider when looking at brush handles is length. Brush handles range in size from 6" the whole way up to 20". The handle length you choose depends on what you need to clean. A one-handed, 8" scrub brush will clean a basic frying pan or sauce pan just fine, but would struggle to clean a deep ice chest or the inside of a fryer. For something like that, you might consider a two-handed, 20" brush that offers greater reach.
Handle type also comes into play. Most brushes have plastic handles with ergonomic grips for fingers, but some have basic rubber wood handles, others have T-shaped handles, and some don't have handles at all. This type of handle may be slightly harder to grip, but provides the greatest leverage and strength when scrubbing. Selecting a handle is really a matter preference, but having to use an uncomfortable handle can make cleaning even more detestable than it already is.
Believe it or not, pot and pan brushes are typically made from two different bristle materials. When selecting a brush, you want to consider carefully the recovery strength of bristles. A good pot and pan brush is going to have bristles with excellent recovery strength, meaning that even after consistent use, the bristles will retain their original shape and rigidity. You don't want your bristles to splay out or crack because it will severely damage their ability to clean pots and pans effectively. Either of the following materials make for effective brushes:
Synthetic bristles are made of plastics and other chemical compounds, offering the greatest recovery strength of the bristle types. Because they consist of processed materials, special qualities can be engineered into synthetic bristles, such as resistance to acids and solvents, resistance to moisture, and high heat capabilities. Common synthetic bristle materials are polyester, nylon, and teflon.
Made from the roots or stalks of various plants, these bristles are typically coarse, making them useful for a number of applications. Common bristle materials are palmetto palm fibers, Tampico agave fibers, and Indian Palmyra palms. Union fiber bristles, the most common, contain a mix of two or more fibers (usually Tampico and Palmyra) and have a standard medium-stiff texture.
There are some pieces of equipment that may require specially shaped brushes, such as drains and pipes, coffee urns, slicers, and condiment dispensers. These pieces contain hard-to-reach areas that a basic pot and pan brush may not be able to address. Thin-diameter brushes with wire handles are perfect for fitting into small pipes and bending to accommodate tough angles.
Another type of brush is designed especially for fryers and fryer parts. Fryer brushes and bristles are engineered to handle extremely high temperatures, in order to clean machines while they are still warm. These brushes utilize non-metal handles to ensure you do not burn your hands while cleaning hot machines, and are often "L"-shaped to address the hard-to-reach sections of fryers.
Pot and pan scrub brushes are designed to take a beating. Because they are so durable, cleaning and caring for them is easy. Research your own brushes to be sure, but some scrub brushes can be put right in the dishwasher, making cleaning a snap. If your brush is not dishwasher-safe or you choose to wash it by hand, care is still easy:
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