Tales from a Calamitous Kitchen: Dealing with a Burnt Pot

Re-use StAndReUse Waste

We’ve just finished the second StAndReUse Big Giveaway of the Academic Year 13/14. Before Christmas we collected a number of household items from students, these were cleaned, sorted and then lugged up the stairs to the Salad Bowl for redistribution (for free!) during Refreshers Week. We collected over 130kg of reusable items which is pretty good going for a mid-year event. Thanks to everyone who donated and collected!

We get all sorts of donations.
We get all sorts of donations.

Every time we do a collection, we receive some items that we don’t know what to do with (see photo of turkey baster & loofah!). Unfortunately that means we do have to spend quite a lot of time sorting out the donations. Whilst we are happy to do this, we thought it would be useful to give some more insight into the things we can collect and things we can’t. So in the coming months we will be using this blog to update you on how to maximise the reuse potential of StAndReUse so we can have the best possible collection in May.

One of the things we’ve noticed is that we get a lot of pots with some serious  gunk at the bottom. We understand; burnt food happens to the best of us (particularly when distracted by the latest episode of The Walking Dead, the 6 Nations or even just staring into space…). Sometimes StAndReuse manage to clean the pot but usually the burnt stuff has been there too long for us to make a difference. Unfortunately these pots then have to go for recycling: which is better than the bin but still not the best option environmentally. What would really help us is if you could deal with that burnt gunk as soon as it happens with some of the following tips:

  • Avoid burning stuff in the first place!
    • A spoon placed across a pan will stop it boiling over
    • You can place tinfoil or greaseproof paper in the bottom of a casserole dish to prevent sticking
    • Use lubricant: olive oil, butter, weird stuff that comes in a can: whatever works for you
    • Top tip: putting a sprinkling of salt in with some onions will usually stop them burning to a frying pan
  • Deal with disasters as they happen
    • One of the most tried and tested methods is using a little vinegar and some baking soda. Pour into the pan, leave for 5 minutes and scrub away to find the gleamiest pot staring back at you (I tried this today and I’m pleased to say it worked a treat, purely as an experiment you understand and nothing to do with my burnt scrambled eggs)
    • If you don’t have vinegar, warm some water instead. As you can see from this video, this technique also works well.
    • Never underestimate the power of fizzy drinks. Put a little in the bottom of your pan, watch the grime float away and cringe as you think what’s happening to your teeth when you drink this stuff.
A selection of donated pans that have seen better days
A selection of donated pans that have seen better days

We appreciate that now we’ve taught you how to keep your pans in tiptop shape that you might not want to donate them to us. We’re ok with that.

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alistair.macleod
Ali is project manager of Transition University of St Andrews.