Q: I use cookie sheet pans regularly, and the last sets I have purchased rusted when I put them in the dishwasher. I have begun washing them by hand. However, where can I find decent, stainless-steel sheet pans to purchase? Years ago when I first married and stocked my kitchen, it was not a problem finding quality products. But now, all I seem to be able to find is junk. Suggestions, please?
-- Joy Rinehart, Boiling Springs, South Carolina
A: Most sheet pans are made from aluminum, not stainless steel, because of its ability to conduct heat. I am wondering if your pans truly rusted or just became dull and gray. Aluminum often will discolor in the dishwasher due to the alkaline nature of the detergent. In the future, make it a practice to wash aluminum pans by hand.
To find quality products, forget about the big retailers and head to your nearest restaurant-supply depot. The equipment it sells is sturdy enough to withstand the abuses of restaurant kitchens. You also might find that the prices of equipment are more affordable than what you would pay at a traditional retailer.
Many people don’t realize that most restaurant-supply stores are open to the public. The trick is getting out of there without breaking your bank, as they can be a shopping paradise for cooks.
By the way, to clean discolored aluminum, make a paste from cream of tartar and water and use it to scrub the pans to their former shiny finish.
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