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Why Choose Quality Cookware?

August 14, 2012

Quality cookware is one of the most important long-term investments you can make as a cook. With proper care, it will last many, many years, and can even be handed down to the next generation.  Think about it—cooking can be a joy, a wonderful outlet for creativity and innovation, made all the better by the advantage of being able to taste and savor the results.  It can nourish our bodies, our families, and our souls.  Or it can be a chore, filled with the frustrations of badly cooked foods and messy clean ups. Perhaps the most important step in determining which cookware to purchase is identifying which type of cookware best suits your needs.

Choosing the Best Type of Cookware for the Job

Cooking Grandma’s pasta sauce recipe?  You’ll need a heavy saucepan, perfect for simmering long and slow. Trying to cut down on fat in your diet?  A sauté pan with a non-stick surface will help you minimize the use of extra oils when you prepare your famous shrimp creole.  Getting fancy and replicating a celebrity chef’s award winning dish?  You’ll most likely use several types of cookware throughout the recipe.
Knowing the pros and cons of cookware construction can help you decide which works best for you.  Here’s a basic guide:

Stainless Steel Cookware

  • Durable
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Non-corroding
  • Sticking resistant
  • Lower cost
  • Non-reactive to acidic ingredients
  • Poor heat conductor
  • Prone to hotspots
  • Subject to warping over time

Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

  • Stainless steel interior fused to solid aluminum core, finished with hard anodized aluminum exterior
  • Excellent heat conductivity
  • Non-corrosive
  • Non-reactive to acidic ingredients
  • Distributes heat effectively
  • Highly responsive to heat changes
  • Requires more care than stainless steel
  • Hand wash

Bonded Copper Cookware

  • Interior layer of pure copper bonded between layers of stainless steel on cooking surface and exterior
  • Rapid, even heat distribution
  • Efficient
  • Non-reactive
  • Resists sticking
  • Shiny finish without polishing
  • Heavy by design
  • Hand wash

Anodized Aluminum Cookware

  • Treated with electrolyte process to make the aluminum harder than stainless steel
  • Durable
  • Heats evenly
  • Resists sticking
  • Excellent browning capabilities
  • Non-reactive to acidic ingredients
  • Metal won’t leach into cooking liquids
  • Oven–safe
  • Hand wash only

Cast Iron Cookware

  • Best for frying and searing
  • Retains heat extremely well
  • Heats up slowly
  • Reactive to acidic ingredients
  • Durable
  • New pans require “seasoning” prior to use
  • Heavy
  • Hand wash and dry immediately, rubbing in a small amount of oil, to prevent rusting

Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

  • Brilliant enamel exterior colors bonded to black matte enamel finish, then fused to the pan
  • Heat slowly
  • Retain heat extremely well
  • Does not require seasoning
  • Non-reactive with acidic ingredients
  • Stick-resistant
  • Can be used on stovetop or in oven
  • Attractive enough for the table
  • Enamel coating subject to scratching
  • Hand wash with non-abrasive sponge and cleaning products

Non-Stick

  • Coated surfaces made of various materials to release foods cleanly and easily
  • Attractive results
  • Easy clean-up
  • Require little fat, for more healthy cooking
  • Must use with plastic tools designed for non-stick cookware
  • Must hand wash with non -abrasive sponge
  • Many coated surfaces scratch easily, and depending on surface used, may release toxins if scratched
  • PFOA-free and ceramic clad non-stick surfaces are safest, non-toxic and less prone to scratching.

If you’re stocking a new kitchen, and a complete set of excellent cookware isn’t in your budget, start with just a few basic well-made pieces and build your collection as your cooking style and needs develop.  Most advanced cooks use a variety of types and brands of cookware to match the task at hand.

There’s a world of deliciousness out there, so get cooking!

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From → Articles, Daily Tips

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