Guardian Service Cookware is a line of hammered aluminum pots, pans, sheets and roasters. First introduced in the 1930s, Guardian Service Cookware continued to be produced until the 1950s. Given its heavy-duty construction, some families have continued to use their Guardian ware through the generations, whereas others collect it for the associated nostalgia. Regardless of whether you use your Guardian Service Cookware collection or display it as decor, learning how to clean this vintage cookware will ensure its longevity.
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Cleaning Aluminum Cookware
Discoloration is to be expected when using aluminum cookware like Guardian Service due to the chemical reactions that take place when cooking certain types of foods, especially alkaline foods like vegetables or prolonged storage of acidic or salty foods, according to Clemson. Combat this discoloration with a food-safe acidic cleaner.
You don't need to buy specialty cleaning products to keep your Guardian Service cookware looking great. Considering that these aluminum pots originated during the Great Depression, the original owners likely used what they already had on hand to care for their Guardian Ware, and you can too. Cream of tartar, white vinegar or lemon juice work especially well as a food-safe aluminum cleaner.
To start, remove grease and food particles from the cookware by hand-washing with your favorite dish soap and warm water. Promptly and thoroughly dry the outside of the pot with a towel to avoid further discoloration. Fill the inside with water (up to about 1 to 2 inches from the top) and stir in 2 tablespoons of either cream of tartar, white vinegar or lemon juice. Allow the mixture to boil on the stove for at least 15 minutes before discarding the cooled water to reveal shiny aluminum.
Restoring Shine to the Outside
Now that you've taken care of the inside of your Guardian Cookware, it's time to address discoloration or cloudiness on the outside. Use steel wool to bring out the shine and buff out any minor discolorations. For best results, dunk the steel wool pad in soapy water first and use a uniform back-and-forth motion to ensure the "brush marks" are oriented in the same direction.
Areas of significant discoloration can be addressed with a cream of tartar paste. Combine 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar with enough warm water to make a paste, and scrub this onto the discolored area. Allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping off the paste, rinsing the cookware and drying it with a towel. An alternative method involves cutting a lemon in half, dipping it in salt and rubbing it on the stained aluminum until the discoloration disappears.
For very stubborn stains on the outside of your Guardian Service Cookware collections, use a commercial metal polish. Take care to find one designed for aluminum and don't use it on the inside of the pot unless it is clearly labeled as food-safe.
Preventing Guardian Service Ware Discoloration
To prevent frequent bouts of discoloration from afflicting your Guardian Service Ware, always wash this collection by hand and dry it with a towel right away. Prolonged water exposure also stains aluminum, so you don't want to allow it to sit in a dishwasher or air dry. However, remember that discoloration is par for the course when it comes to cooking in aluminum pots like the Guardian Service line. Develop a habit of regularly inspecting and cleaning mild stains for best results.