Questions for cooks: Splatter free

Reader Nagle submitted the following to Questions for cooks:

I have always wondered how people avoid having a kitchen coated in splatter when using their stove-top griddles for cooking steaks, etc. It seems to me that the clean-up is not worth the “convenience” of cooking inside. So, I avoid doing it … Is there a trick I don’t know about?

When cooking steaks, frying something on the stove, or making a tomato-based sauce, I simply use a splatter guard. It significantly reduces the amount of oil, fat, and sauce splatter that makes it onto the stove, underside of the microwave, into the air, and on me.

Splatter guards don’t last very long — maybe six months — so I get the least expensive one with the smallest mesh I can find. I toss it into the dishwasher after a meal, and recycle it when it’s time to get a new one.

I also keep a damp sponge with a dollop of dishwashing detergent on it next to the stove as I cook. If I notice any spills or splatters, I clean them up immediately before they can dry and become difficult to remove. Cleaning as you go saves a lot of time over the long term. I also throw the sponge into the dishwasher at the end of the day to clean it. Then, after it has gone through the dishwasher, I’ll get the sponge damp again and throw it into the microwave for a few minutes to kill any remaining bacteria and germs — just be sure to let the sponge cool thoroughly before touching it again.

I have to say, though, that I like grilling and I think it’s fun to do even in the coldest of winter. If cooking outside is something you enjoy year round, by all means keep cooking outdoors. I especially like how it keeps the mess out my kitchen, too.

Thank you, Nagle, for submitting your question for our Questions for cooks column. Be sure to check the comments for even more ideas from our readers.

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9 comments posted

  1. Posted by Meg - 03/04/2011

    Splatter guards are great!

    There’s a lot to be said for technique, too, though. Don’t use more fat than you need to, use the right temperature setting, dry off wet ingredients before adding them if you can, add ingredients gently (tongs are helpful), and use a pan/pot that has high sides (woks are great for frying for this reason among others).

  2. Posted by Bridget - 03/04/2011

    What do mean splatter guards don’t last very long? I can imagine they’d get very grody if you didn’t clean them and dry them off, but suggesting that they are that disposable is a bit odd. Did I miss something? Mine’s been going strong for quite some time now…

  3. Posted by Heather - 03/04/2011

    Vinegar is an awesome grease cutter. I use it for quick clean up when I don’t time to rinse off/re-wipe soapy areas of my cooking area.

  4. Posted by ninakk - 03/04/2011

    I second Meg’s comment on not using too much oil; butter is kinder but I find that even a tad too much oil will splatter everywhere and it burns nicely too.

    I think there are many types of splatter guards and the one’s I’ve come in contact with are durable. You could try one of silicone if the other type isn’t long-lasting enough.

    My husband likes to cook greasier than I and therefore we have a few designated kitchen towels for the purpose of covering the surrounding area up a bit. Think bacon and splatter everywhere.

  5. Posted by Kai - 03/05/2011

    Dumping two spatter guards every year?
    The silicone ones work great and last a long time if you’re having problems with the traditional kind.
    Recycling is great, but ‘Reduce’ comes first..

  6. Posted by Homestead - 03/17/2011

    We accidentally broke the handle off our splatter guard playing indoor baseball….. works great with a pair of balled-up baby socks for a ball.

    My brother welded it back on. I put my mesh guard in the dishwasher on the side… seems to work ok and we’ve had it for years.

  7. Posted by kris - 03/25/2011

    You wash your sponge in the dishwasher and then you microwave it for a few minutes.

    I skip the dishwasher part and just put my damp sponge in the microwave for two minutes.

    Just wondering. What am I missing?

  8. Posted by Erin Doland - 03/25/2011

    @kris — The dishwasher gets the grease out of it.

  9. Posted by kris - 03/25/2011

    Erin . . . Thanks!

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