Late last year, I threw away most of the lids to my pots and pans.
When I foolishly tried to pry one from the center of the pile, the whole Jenga tower of domed shapes and protruding handles crashed to the floor for the umpteenth time. In a moment of pushed-over-the-edge frustration, I cleaned by purging: The pans went back on the shelf, but the lids went into a box on the stoop.
In the following weeks, I used dinner plates, platters, and quarter sheet pans as makeshift lids. But the plates got way too hot and felt wobbly, and the sheet pans left gaps on everything but my small eight-inch skillet. I needed a more permanent solution.
When perusing Food52’s shop, I found these heat-safe suction silicone lids from the brand’s own line of equipment. They come in a pack of five and nest together to create a neat, slender stack that, when placed upright, is no wider than the inch-long knob that sticks out from the center. To use, you take one that’s slightly larger than the diameter of your cooking vessel and place it over the opening. When you press down gently on the knob, air pressure creates a seal that’s just as tight as those of the lids I tossed.
For the past few months, I’ve pulled these new covers out to help the whites of fried eggs set, rewarm leftovers on the stove (I’m microwave-less), simmer sauces, and wilt large volumes of greens. I even used one to cook rice, a task that’s doomed to fail if even a bit of steam escapes. I turn to the two biggest sizes for pots and pans most often, but the smaller ones come in handy for storage. They stick firmly on top of my metal mixing bowls when I want to throw a dish in the fridge for a few hours without decanting it into a proper storage container. They’re freezer- and microwave-safe, too (for someone with a microwave, the smallest one would be perfect for heating up a mug of coffee or tea).
Food52 isn’t the first to think of suction technology, but the other options on the market are sold in only one size, don’t nest, have flimsy-looking handles, or (quite frankly) are ugly. In fact, when I pitched this story, a couple of other Strategist staffers chimed in with complaints about a similar product from a different (usually reliable) kitchen-equipment brand. Senior editor Winnie Yang owned that set for five years before buying Five Two’s right after I mentioned it. “It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m convinced these are much better,” she says. “They sit in my pot rack and are a lot easier to identify and get to the one that I want.”
Mine, too, are fitted snugly on the same shelf where that jumble of lids used to live — but now I can say with certainty that their replacements won’t end up on the sidewalk anytime soon.
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