When people go to purchase cookware they often let price, trendy designs or ease of cleaning guide them. And although these are all things one should consider prior to buying pots and pans, one essential element that all cooks should weigh is the materials used in making the cookware.
Your cookware will perform, clean-up and be maintained differently depending upon its composition. Here’s an overview of the different kinds of basic materials utilized in creating pots and pans and how they’ll influence your experience in the kitchen.
People often gravitate towards aluminium for two reasons—it is lightweight and comparatively inexpensive. Although aluminium conducts heat quickly and evenly, the major drawback with pure aluminium cookware is that it is affected by alkaline and acidic foods, which will cause this metal to corrode, creating an off-taste in the food you’re preparing. For this reason, aluminium is most often used as the primary conducting material in cookware and then coated with another material to protect the overall integrity of the pot or pan and the taste of the food.
Aluminium cookware that has an anodized coating performs well in terms of conducting heat, while the coating resists alkaline and acidic foods and enables easy clean up of the various vessels. However, foods that are highly acidic or alkaline will compromise the coating and damage the finish. Another drawback to cooking items in anodized aluminium kitchenware is that these dark-toned pots and pans can make it difficult to observe changes in food as it’s cooked. Anodized aluminium cookware should not be cleaned in the dishwasher. This will discolour and ruin the finish.
Most cooks agree that a kitchen is not complete without at least one or two cast iron pans. These types of pots and pans are preferred due to the fact that they heat slowly and evenly and once hot, they retain their temperature nicely. They are also moderately priced.
Cast iron is versatile due to the fact that it can be used on top of the stove and in the oven. Although they are prone to rusting, staining and pitting, with the right care cast iron cookware will last a lifetime.
In caring for cast iron, you never want to wash it in soapy water. The preferred method of cleaning is to wipe it clean with a paper towel, running hot water over any food that’s been cooked onto the surface. Wash in warm water, dry thoroughly and then prior to storing coat lightly with oil. This process will prevent rusting and preserve the surface.
One of the aspects that cooks like about lined copper is its responsiveness to heat and changing temperatures. It will get warm quickly, maintain its temperature under steady heat and cool down once the heat is turned down or removed. Lined copper is expensive, but this versatile material is extremely efficient in terms of preventing the burning or overcooking of foods.
When it comes to upkeep, lined copper cookware should be cleaned gently in warm, soapy water and the copper bottoms treated with copper polish to prevent discolouring. Do not use abrasive cleaners or place in the dishwasher. Depending on how often these pans are used, their interiors need to be re-tinned every two to four years.
Non-stick cookware is coated on the inside with a synthetic material that helps prevent food from sticking. You’ll often find that aluminium is the base metal used in these types of pots and pans. One drawback occurs when attempting to cook at high heat due to the fact that the non-stick coating can impede the heating of the interior of the pan. Kitchenware featuring a non-stick coating is attractive because less fat can be used in food preparation, clean-up is usually effortless and foods that are sensitive to sticking, over-heating or burning are less likely to do so. Never use abrasive cleaners or metal utensils with non-stick surfaces. Such items will scratch and compromise the effectiveness of the surface.
Cookware made from stainless steel is durable, resisting denting, discolouration and pitting. Just about any type of food can be cooked in this type of moderately priced pan. The primary problem with stainless steel is its tendency to heat unevenly.
The solution to this dilemma is to include in each vessel a thick copper or aluminium core that helps increase overall conductivity. In the best stainless steel pots and pans, the core runs up the walls of the vessels, ensuring that heat is evenly distributed on all sides of the pan. Stainless steel cookware that includes a heavy metal core will be higher priced than the type that is simply composed of stainless steel.