We've all been there.
You're cooking dinner on a hectic weeknight, trying to keep an eye on your pork chops in the skillet while also boiling broccoli and baking rolls. Amidst the chaos, your pot of rice boils off a little too much water and – in under 5 minutes – gives your favorite pan a thick, stuck-on coating.
Although a burned side dish can put a damper on your meal, it's even tougher to return to the kitchen later to scrub off your mistake. Burnt rice creates a thick layer of stuck-on food that poses a threat to your favorite saucepan, not to mention your fingernails. If you let the dish soak over the course of your meal, great – it may help remove a few grains of blackened rice to simplify the cleaning process. But, you'll still be stuck for 20 minutes with a steel wool pad trying to save the pot.
More from Southern Living
There are several ways of simplifying the cleaning process, and most of them involve ingredients you've already got in the pantry.
1. Use Vinegar
One of the most common ways to remove burnt food from the bottom of a pot is to add in a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. You should have enough solution that your cooked-on rice is completely covered. Set the pot on the stove at medium heat, and let the mixture come to a boil. Continue to boil until you see the soot begin to loosen. Finish off the cleaning with a steel wool pad (a Brillo works well!), and then use your regular dish soap and a sponge to remove any remaining black bits.
2. Use Lemons
If you don't have vinegar in the cupboard, turn to your crisper drawer. This helpful YouTube video from HomeTalk shows a technique for removing burnt residue using one of our favorite (and versatile!) citrus fruits. Chop up a few lemons, cover them with water, bring the mixture to a boil, and watch the acidity work its magic. Use soap and a dish brush to remove any remaining grains, and rinse thoroughly.
3. Use Baking Soda
If the burnt rice is still persisting, try adding baking soda to the mix. You can add baking soda to your vinegar and water solution, as we did; the acidity of the combination helps to dissolve tricky substances. Once you've dumped out your blackened water, a paste of baking soda and water can also be used on the remaining food bits to clean up residual marks.