Three things came out of the pandemic that were previously unknown: working from home is awesome, toilet paper will definitely be currency when the world ends, and people absolutely love to bake. Flour disappeared from the shelves and Instagram feeds were flooded with photos of peoples home-made sourdough and pizza. Friends would eventually turn a hobby into a side-hustle and sometimes into a full-fledged business. One of the biggest pandemic-fueled hobbies was pizza making.
In one poll of pizza-loving Americans, a whole 72 percent said they would eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and not get tired of it. Pizza nerds would unite over hydration percentages, types of flour, proof times, and baking methods. One thing was certain, if you don't have a dedicated pizza oven, a pizza stone is the next best option and taking care of it is paramount to ensuring you continue to have crispy and delicious pizza at home. Whether it's frozen pizza, a made-from-scratch pie, or a leftover slice, the pizza stone is a phenomenal tool for your home kitchen and taking proper care of it is easier than you think.
Step 1: Allow the Stone to Cool
After using a pizza stone, allow it to cool completely before cleaning it. Dipping the stone in the water while still hot can shock it and cause it to crack due to the sudden temperature change. Even if it doesn’t crack, the shock is likely to impact its structural integrity. So, just turn your oven off, and let the stone cool.
Step 2: Scrape Away Food Bits
Once it has cooled, use the bench scraper to scrape away food bits. A metal or plastic spatula can also be handy for this task. If you use a metal spatula, be sure to scrape lightly to avoid scratching your stone.
Step 3: Remove Stuck-on Food
In some cases, burnt food bits from your stone-fired pizza can get stuck to the stone, even after scraping. Here is where the baking soda comes in handy. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with water to make a paste for spot-treating the stuck-on bits. Leave it for a few minutes before scrubbing it with a stiff-bristled nylon brush. You can also use medium-grit sandpaper to sand down the crumbs.
Step 4: Wipe It Down
Once you have cleared the bits, use the soft microfiber cloth to wipe down the surface of your stone. Ensure the cloth is damp before wiping the stone. If there are still food bits on the surface, you can heat the stone to 500°F in the oven for about an hour before scraping off the debris.
Step 5: Let It Dry
Allow your pizza stone to dry completely; this takes about 1 to 2 hours.
Unlike your typical kitchen utensils, your pizza stone requires some special care. You don’t need water and soap to clean it. A pizza stone has a porous structure. The pores are useful in absorbing moisture from your pizza to make it superbly crispy. So, if you wash it with soap, the pores will absorb it, giving your pizza a soapy taste — you don’t want that!
You should never submerge your stone in water. Even if it has cooled completely, water is a definite no-no. You just need to scrape off the food bits with a scraper or dry brush and wipe it down using a damp cloth.
A pizza stone isn’t dishwasher-safe, so be ready to make use of your hands. The dishwasher detergent is likely to affect the non-stick seasoning, meaning it will take longer for your stone to develop seasoning. The detergent will also get into the pores.
However, some stones do claim to be dishwasher safe. For example, the American Metalcraft Store and Pampered Chef offer stones which they claim are dishwasher safe.
When reheating or baking stone pizza, the unexpected happens — your pizza gets stuck to the stone. This occurs because of three main reasons:
- You didn’t adequately preheat the stone.
- Your stone was not clean.
- Your dough was too sticky.
Keep your stone clean: Stuck-on food bits cause the next item to stick to those stuck on bits. So, it’s vital to clean your pizza stone after each cook, and the steps above show how you can do that. Remember to clean it properly after each use -- you owe it to yourself.
The dough preparation process matters: It can be tricky to work with sticky dough when baking the crust from scratch. So, the trick is to add cornmeal and some flour to your dough to minimize stickiness. Also, apply flour and cornmeal to working surfaces. Some people will line their stone with parchment paper if the dough is sticky — while it helps, it’s not recommended.
Be sure to preheat your stone: You need to preheat your stone for about 20 to 30 minutes. It needs to reach 475 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This range of temperature is right for placing your pizza into the oven. Avoid placing the pizza on the stone while it’s still out of the oven.
The pizza stone doesn’t demand much - just some scraping, scrubbing, and wiping. If you like the taste of crispy stone hot pizza, taking the time to clean this vital tool is worth it. Just remember not to use soap to avoid eating pizza with a soapy taste. It doesn’t take long to clean the stone. Once it has cooled completely, you’ll only need 10 to 20 minutes to clean it.
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