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Organizing one’s cookware and bakeware is one of the most difficult tasks in the kitchen, primarily because so many of the items are large or awkwardly sized or shaped. But keeping them organized and easy to get to is–at least for me–a way to decrease my time in the kitchen. So today, I challenge you to organize all those pots and pans and baking sheets.
First Step (As Always): Declutter
The first thing you should do is sort through your cookware and bakeware and decide if there’s anything you should donate, repurpose, or even recycle. As an example, I had a few old cake and muffin pans that had rusted and a cookie sheet that was completely black! I repurposed some of those, a cake pan as a DIY stepping stone mold and the cookie sheet to hold craft projects requiring baking.
I have an aunt who probably has 25 pieces of cookware. If your story is similar, decide if you really need all those. And if you don’t, bless someone else with the ones you don’t need.
Next Up: Clean!
Your next step is to clean your cookware and bakeware. I’m sure your stuff is clean, but I mean you should really clean it.
A few years ago, I burned sweet tea in one of my saucepans. (That’s a long story.) A friend told me I’d have to throw out the pan. But I didn’t have to. I had to work on it, but I ultimately cleaned the pan. Similarly, I’ve kept my years-old baking sheets and jelly roll pans looking clean with some diligent work.
For stainless steel cookware, I highly recommend Cameo Aluminum and Stainless Steel Cleaner. I also use Brillo pads, which I purchase in boxes of eight at Dollar Tree. A friend of mine claims Bar Keeper’s Friend is equally good, but I have yet to try it. I can’t tell you what to use if you have copper cookware or anything else; if you have these pans and have found something that works, please do post in the comments and let us know.
For baking sheets, I use Brillo pads with the caveat that these do dull–and may scratch–most sheets’ finishes. I’ve used hydrogen peroxide in the past with some success, but I would recommend not using it if you don’t know chemistry; check out this article if you want to see the scary reactions mixing some cleaners can cause.
If you use cast iron, you should be aware that you should not try any of the above tactics for cleaning it, nor should you use dish soap or put your cast iron in the dishwasher. I clean my cast iron with kosher salt and hot water before wiping it with oil. I purchased scrapers a few years back, but I regret that purchase; I am typically able to remove extreme messes in my cast iron by boiling water in the pan and then wiping up the remainder of the mess with kosher salt.
You can organize your baking pans and cookware in a host of ways. You can buy a pan organizer. You can buy lid organizers. You can buy pot racks and S-hooks. You could even try buying one of those wooden magazine holders at a thrift shop and repurposing it (although make sure you seal the paint or stain and take whatever other steps are necessary to prevent paint or stain from touching pans used for food).
For my kitchen, I’ve taken the easy and cheap way out. I have one small cabinet with all of my bakeware other than my baking sheets: my Bundt pan, my springform pan, my small aluminum cake pans, and my silicone baking pans, for example, all stacked atop one another. (I’ve also included my cake decorating tips, my rolling pins, and my cooling racks in the same cabinet.) My half-sheet baking sheets (those are all I have) are in another large cabinet along with my stacked pots and pans. (I’ve also included my nesting mixing bowls in this cabinet.) The lids to my cookware are behind the stacked pots and pans. My cast iron–and I have quite a bit of it–is in a separate large drawer, again stacked.
One last thing: I can never say enough that you should do what works for you. I don’t like the idea of hanging my pots from a pot rack. I think about the flies that get into my house sometimes during the summer, and I just abhor the idea. But it works for some people. Likewise, many people are against open shelving because they shudder at the thought of dust and pet hair getting onto cookware and dishes. Others love the idea. Again, do what works for you and your home.
If you’ve worked through these steps, your bakeware and cookware should be organized. How’d you do? Let me hear how you organized your cookware and bakeware–post a comment!