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Foods that react with aluminum pans

Updated February 21, 2017

Aluminium cookware, according to Michigan State University, comprised more than half of the cookware made in 2003. Uncoated aluminium cookware poses a problem, as its surface reacts with many foods. These reactions cause damage by pulling small amounts of aluminium from the pan into the food, cause pitting in the cooking surface of the pot and affecting the taste of the food. Avoid cooking problematic foods in uncoated aluminium to prevent this. Anodised aluminium does not react with these foods.

All Fruits and Juices

Fruits have high levels of acid in their juices, and you should not store or cook either the fruits or their juices in aluminium pans. Fruits to avoid include apples, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, pears, pineapples, and peppers. Acids in the fruits left in the pan cause pitting, which results in aluminium leeching into the food, according to Michigan State University.

Highly Salted Foods

High concentrations of salt can cause pitting of an aluminium pan. Add salt after cooking if possible, but avoid cooking or storing salted foods in aluminium cookware, as recommended by Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Rhubarb

Technically a vegetable, rhubarb often gets treated as a fruit, as it often pairs with berries or sugar for making desserts. These bright red stalks will react with an aluminium pan as acidic fruits do. The acid pulls aluminium from the pan, adding it to the food and pitting the interior of the pan, according to Clemson University.

Sauerkraut and Pickled Foods

Sauerkraut, also known as pickled cabbage, contains both high levels of salt and a low pH. This, and all other pickled products, will react with the metal in an aluminium pan whether the aluminium cooking vessel heats the dish or not. The salt and acid both pull aluminium out of the pan, resulting in pits in the pan and aluminium in the food, as with other acidic ingredients.

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