Cheap cookware can easily get damaged by minor impacts, dishwashers, stirring and mashing, and even the heat from the stove or oven can damage the cookware. Even the cheapest cookware sets cost around $100. If you get a set that consistently gets damaged and worn, you’ll quickly need to replace that set. It’s a better idea to buy the best cookware in terms of quality from the start to ensure that you save money in the long term. In addition, it will ensure that you get a set that will be most beneficial to your cooking while lasting for many years.
The most common materials for cookware are stainless steel, cast iron, copper and aluminum. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, and in order to select the best cookware material for your needs you’ll need to keep these important factors in mind.
The most commonly used cookware material is stainless steel. Not only is stainless steel cookware affordable for practically any budget, it’s also fairly durable to help avoid warping, dents and scratches. Unlike some other cookware materials, steel doesn’t create a reaction in certain foods when cooking.
The downside is stainless steel does not conduct heat very well. This means that the cookware creates areas on the cooking surface that are hotter than others, causing certain foods to cook unevenly.
An old-fashioned favorite, cast iron is a material that has been used in cookware for centuries. There’s a good reason for its prolonged use as well. Cast iron is incredibly durable, has good heat conductivity and retention and is also very cost effective.
However, there are some downsides to cast iron. It can rust if not seasoned regularly. It can also create reactions in certain foods if not seasoned on a regular basis. Cast iron is also very heavy, but that’s typically a trade-off for durability.
Aluminum is also a fairly common choice for cookware as it’s a fairly cheap metal. The main benefit of aluminum cookware is that it has great heat conduction and makes a very even temperature across the entire pan to evenly cook many foods.
The negative side to this is that aluminum is a very soft metal, and cookware made of aluminum tends to scratch and dent extremely easily.
Copper is on the expensive end of the spectrum. It is commonly used by professional chefs as it not only looks wonderful, but it also has great and even heat conductivity.
The negative aspect to copper is that the price is usually so high that it is not very commonly used for regular household kitchens. It also reacts to certain foods, and it requires regular polishing in order to maintain its appealing and shiny look.
Is There a Best Choice?
The best cookware material choice would be a combination of metals. It’s common for cookware to have several different types of metal combined to make up for the disadvantages of some while gaining the benefits of others. For example, two layers of stainless steel over a copper or cast iron plate can make a durable pan with better and even heat conduction.
While some cookware choices are very durable and can last for years, even the best cookware needs maintenance in order to stay in good condition for as long as possible. Some people don’t want to dedicate much in terms of time or effort when it comes to their cookware, so you should take the various types of maintenance in consideration as well when searching for the best cookware choice for you.
Stainless steel pans generally don’t require much in terms of maintenance barring the regular washing. However, stainless steel cookware is typically painted to seem more appealing. This paint is usually strong enough to stand up to regular washing and harsh temperatures, but it typically doesn’t handle many trips through the dishwasher before wearing off. To combat this, gently wash the cookware by hand or choose to buy cookware without any painted coating.
When it comes to cast iron, you need to regularly season it in order to prevent rust and to obtain a non-stick surface. Seasoning involves covering the cookware in cooking oil and placing it in oven for an hour at 350° F. This is not particularly difficult, but it is time and energy consuming.
Cleaning is also different as you should clean the pot or pan immediately after cooking instead of letting it soak. It’s also best to hand wash the cookware as the harsh temperatures of the dishwasher can cause rust.
Aluminum can be cleaned rather easily, but the washing process should be gentle to avoid damaging the cookware.
Copper can be washed regularly, but you’ll need to avoid using metal brushes or scrubbing pads to avoid scratches. Copper should also be regularly polished in order to maintain a clean and appealing appearance.
When searching for the best cookware, the covers should also be a serious consideration. They may not seem like a major issue, but getting good covers can make a huge difference during cooking.
Covers made with glass offer the ability to check up on food without needing to remove the cover. This allows you to avoid losing heat or burning yourself with steam unnecessarily while trying to cook.
The handle should have a good grip on it to avoid accidentally dropping it while cooking. In addition, it’s a very good idea to look for handles that are heat-resistant such as wooden handles or rubber coated handles. Metal handles heat up almost as easily as the rest of the pan, and it’s incredibly easy to burn your hand on a metal handle after the food has been cooking for a short while.
However, some people like to use certain pieces of cookware both on the stove and in the oven. Wooden and rubber handles would not fare very well in an oven as the wood would likely burn, crack or even catch fire while the rubber would melt. For these purposes, it’s best to find a metal handle that has removable rubber covers. This allows you to avoid burning your fingers while cooking on the stove while protecting your cookware if you choose to use it in the oven.
Finally, it’s also beneficial to find covers with vents. This allows you to moderately control the heat retention in the pan and easily avoid boil-overs.
Non-stick coatings have been a widely loved benefit in cookware for years. It lessens or negates the need for oil or butter coatings on pans while cooking, and it prevents sticking with recipes that don’t call for buttering or oiling the pan. Non-stick coated cookware is also very easy to clean with no greasy residue left behind after cooking.
It’s a good idea to get some pots and pans that have non-stick coatings, but keep in mind that non-stick coatings can scratch off easily after repeated abuse with metal spoons, knives or mashers. Scratching off the non-stick coating can also be a health hazard if the tiny pieces accidentally enter the food. If you can, switch to plastic or wooden cooking tools on non-stick surfaces to avoid damage. If you must use metal cooking tools, it’s best to avoid using the non-stick cookware.
Pour spouts are a very simple yet effective addition to pots and some frying pans as it allows for quick and easy draining without worrying about getting a colander or trying to use the cover at a slightly opened angle to drain the liquid on your own. The latter is especially dangerous since it’s very common to burn yourself with boiling water or accidentally dump the food into the sink while trying to drain the water or grease.
Pre-Made Sets or Piece by Piece?
Cookware commonly comes in pre-made sets of various pieces and sizes. However, you also have the option of being more particular with your purchase and buying your set piece by piece. In order to decide which option is the best cookware option for you, you should weigh the pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of Pre-Made Sets
Buying a pre-made set allows you to buy most or all of what you need for cookware in one purchase. Pre-made sets typically cover all of the various pieces of cookware that someone would need such as large pots, sauce pans, steamers, skillets, baking dishes and more.
In addition, all of the pieces in a pre-made set match perfectly with each other. This can be especially beneficial if you usually keep some of your pans out on the stove instead of in storage as they can add a bit of a decorative touch to the room.
However, the materials used for the cookware are also commonly uniform throughout each of the pieces. Some materials work better for one purpose than another, which could mean that some pieces would be of better use than others.
Purchasing a pre-made set also means that you may be paying for pieces that you’ll likely never use or use often. This wastes space in your cabinets and oven and essentially causes you to waste money.
Pros and Cons of Buying Piece by Piece
Buying your set piece by piece means that you will only be paying for what you absolutely need or want for cookware. You’ll be able to customize the materials and styles of the various pieces to ensure that you’ll be getting the best materials for the right pieces. It’s also sometimes difficult to find certain types of cookware in pre-made sets.
It’s difficult to match colors and styles when it comes to creating a set piece by piece. Even if you make a set that is roughly the same color, they are commonly different styles and difficult to match.
It’s also usually more expensive to buy a set piece by piece than it is to buy one that is pre-made. However, you may be spending the same amount or less if you take wasted pieces into consideration.
Anyone can find the best cookware set for any purpose as long as they follow these key tips. Durability and price should be the most important aspects to take notice of when looking for the best cookware for your needs. Get the most for your money and practice good maintenance techniques to ensure that your cookware serves you well for many years.
source: wikipedia.org, CheckHeritage