Are you reaching for warped cookware, dull knives, stained spatulas, cracked cutting boards, or smelly wooden spoons daily? Chances are, it’s time to replace those well-loved tools. Here are some signs to let you know when it’s time to part ways.
When Should I Replace Cookware?
Just because a pot or pan looks gross doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to toss it—sometimes a good cleaning is all it takes (just refer to your product’s use and care for instructions). For example, cast iron may show rust if left in water too long, but all it takes is reseasoning to restore it to active duty. However, there are other scenarios were old pots and pans can be unsafe to use or not performing the way they should. Here are three signs your cookware might be ready for a replacement:
- The coating on your nonstick pans is peeling or chipping off. The occasional scratch isn’t a problem, but if the scratch is so deep that you see metal, or if bits of nonstick coating end up in your food, it’s time to go shopping. And as an FYI, nonstick cookware doesn’t have to have an expiration date. The latest technologies for the best nonstick cookware make it metal-utensil and dishwasher safe. Plus, high-quality nonstick cookware should be strong, but not toxic, and it should last a lifetime.
- Your pots and pans are warped. This goes for any kind of cookware or bakeware. If your stainless or nonstick pots and pans are no longer sitting flat on the cooking surface—otherwise known as “out of round”—it can lead to hot spots and inconsistent results.
- The rivets are rusting. “Mmm…rust. So delicious.” Said no one ever. Bottom line, you shouldn’t be cooking with rusted pans. Consider investing in rivetless cookware, and it’s one less thing you need to worry about.
When Should I Replace Kitchen Knives?
A set of good, quality kitchen knives should last a lifetime, and come with a guarantee that promises they will. We know that with daily use comes wear, and in most cases a little imperfection can be easily corrected—with a honing tool or by a professional. But here’s how you know when it’s simply time to replace your knives.
- The tip of your knife is broken. More than likely, this is from dropping your knife onto a hard surface. If a large chunk is missing, first be grateful that your knife hit the ground and not your foot, and then replace it!
- The handle fell off. This is a sign of a very, very old or low-quality knife and it needs to be replaced. Look for knives with full-tang construction—meaning the steel runs through the entire length of the handle—and a durable handle material.
- The blade is chipped. Small nicks or grooves are part of normal wear and tear, but a large chip likely means it’s not salvageable.
- It’s just not comfortable. A comfortable knife is key to efficient prepping. If your knives don’t feel comfortable in your hand, consider donating them and investing in a new set. One thing to consider—do you know how to hold a knife correctly? Buy a chef’s knife that features a handy grip guide.
- Your cutting boards are very worn or warped. Regardless of material, cutting boards should be replaced if they’re not sitting flush on your countertop, or have deep or hard-to-clean grooves or cracks.
When Should I Replace Kitchen Tools?
The tools in your countertop utensil holder arguably get used the most in your kitchen, so it’s likely that some of those tools are past their prime. So, when is it time to toss? Here are a few indications.
- Your wooden spoons are splintered, cracked, fraying, or smelly. No, no, no, and no. Cracks or gaps in wooden spoons can trap food and bacteria, leading to unpleasant smells. If you can taste your shrimp scampi in your chocolate brownie, it’s time to call it quits. Replace your old pine (or other soft wood) wooden spoon with hard wood spoons and help them live a long, healthy life by washing them quickly in hot, soapy water—NOT the dishwasher—after you use them, then let them air dry thoroughly. Don’t let them sit in water for too long, either.
- Your spatulas or scrapers are melted, cracked, or have frayed edges. The general theme here—all of this affects the functionality of your scraper, so it’s best to let it go. Replace with a scraper that has a head made of silicone for better heat resistance, and consider purchasing a few different sizes so you always have the right tool for the job.
- What about stained spatulas and scrapers? This is more about personal preference—a stained scraper isn’t going to perform any differently, but you can find scrapers that resist staining if you want your tools to stay pristine-looking.