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You've heard time and time again that plastic kitchenware is bad for your health, so you're considering stainless steel as an alternative. Before you make the change, however, you're looking to learn a little more about what you can and cannot do with the material. No doubt on the top of your list of questions is how stainless steel affects food storage. Can you put hot food in stainless steel bowls?
You can put hot food in stainless steel bowls. You just have to bear in mind that metal is a powerful conductor and plan accordingly.
There are, of course, some best practices for using stainless steel to heat and store food. We'll walk you through the nuances and have you BPA-free in no time. Just keep reading!
Hot Food vs. Cold Bowl
You probably remember the term conductor from grade school science, but if you need a refresher, it simply describes a substance that allows a transfer of energy. Metal is a notorious conductor of thermal energy.
Why is this relevant? Well, if you plan to transfer hot food straight from a pan into a stainless steel bowl, two things will occur:
- The bowl will steal heat from the food rapidly, in some cases making it too hot to handle safely.
- Meanwhile, since the food is transferring thermal energy to the bowl, it will cool down.
This exchange will happen more quickly to some foods than others, but it will happen nonetheless.
In some cases, this is preferable. For example, if you're making pasta salad and you want the noodles chilled posthaste, refrigerating a stainless steel bowl before dumping the freshly cooked pasta into it is a great way to make that happen.
However, if this rapid cooldown isn't what you want, you'll need to plan accordingly. For example, letting the bowl heat up for a moment in the oven stops it from leeching heat from food.
Can You Put Stainless Steel Bowls In The Refrigerator?
In a word, yes. There are, of course, a couple of things to keep in mind, though.
First, you'll want to make sure you have a properly fitted lid for the container if you're planning to store the food longer than a day. You don't want to risk the food spoiling because it's more exposed to air than it would otherwise be in a sealed container.
Secondly, there's a chance that storing acidic meals long-term has an adverse effect on both the container and the food. You'll probably want an alternative on hand for these cases.
Can You Freeze Food In Stainless Steel Containers?
Much like with the refrigerator, storing food in the freezer in stainless steel is perfectly acceptable. You simply need to be mindful of what you're storing and whether you have the proper container in which to do so.
Can You Cook In Stainless Steel Bowls?
Whether or not you can prepare a meal in stainless steel containers depends a lot on how you're doing the preparation.
Stainless steel is completely safe to use on your stovetop. As with all materials, you should simply be cautious and wear the proper protective gear when it comes to handling steel containers that have been heated to high temperatures.
While it's recommended that you not exceed temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit — particularly if the cookware has wooden handles or other accents of differing material — you can put stainless steel in the oven.
Though it may come as a bit of a surprise, you're able to use stainless steel cookware in a toaster oven. Just follow safety precautions if you do so.
It is not safe to put stainless steel in the microwave. In order to heat up or cook food, you'll want to transfer it to a microwave-safe dish or glassware.
The Benefits Of Switching To Stainless Steel
Now that you have a better understanding of how the material can operate in your kitchen, let's explore the reasons to make the switch.
The thing with plastic is that it's bad for the environment and bad for you. Since it takes about 400 years to properly break down, any plastic containers that end up in landfills will be there for a while. Additionally, whenever it's heated and reused, plastic starts to break down, releasing harmful chemicals into your food. To learn more about the dangers of plastic containers, click here.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is fully recyclable and maintains its structural integrity. As such, it's a safe and environmentally-conscious choice. Plus, it doesn't leave any surprise chemicals in your meals.
Is It Better To Store Food In Glass Or Stainless Steel?
Of course you know that glass is the other option available to you if you're navigating away from plastic. So which material will serve you better? Well, that depends.
Both provide perfectly safe food storage and can be run through the dishwasher, but one of the drawbacks of stainless steel is that you can't see through it. Glass, on the other hand, does not require you to open up the container to find out what's inside.
The drawback of glass is that extreme cold can crack it. If you have a lot of freezer storage needs, going with stainless steel is your best bet.
Other Glass vs. Stainless Steel Considerations
Speaking of cracking, glass is generally much easier to break than stainless steel. It also tends to be heavy. Therefore, if you have kids or take your Tupperware out of the house a lot, stainless steel is the better choice.
Picking The Right Stainless Steel Set For You
One of the concerns about switching to stainless steel tends to be how pricey it gets to buy high-quality sets. With that in mind, we've curated a short list of affordable and durable sets.
For example, this variety pack is conveniently designed to replace plastic Tupperware. The varying sizes make it easy to store several different kinds of leftovers.
These cylindrical containers, on the other hand, are perfect for dried goods.
This set can also be used for pastas, nuts, and beans. In addition, their snap-closed lids mean you could store liquids like soup with no muss or fuss.
Finally, to supplement the first set, you should consider this three-pack of nestling containers.
Before you go, be sure to check out these other kitchen guides: