Choosing cookware can be a daunting task, one has to consider price, brand and what type of material you would be comfortable cooking with. Whether you are looking for a replacement piece or you have taken your cooking to high culinary levels here are some basics you should consider before purchasing new cookware.
Buying cookware can vary from fifty dollars to couple thousand dollars. The price tag on cookware depends on the quality, the conduction, and the brand name. But that doesnt mean you cant find good quality cookware for a reasonable price. When buying cookware set aside a budget and look up market prices for cookware sets or pieces to give you sense of how much you may be spending.
Buying a Set Vs. Buying Individual Pieces.
When your buying cookware consider whether buying a set or buying individual pieces fits in your budget and needs. Try to write down the specific pots and pants you need in your kitchen before going cookware shopping and see whether buying a couple individual pieces is better then buying a set. If you are looking to purchase a set pay attention to the what pieces are included as there may be one or two pieces you may rarely use.
Different Types of Cookware Material.
Choosing the type of material you want to cook with influences your budget and your cooking comfort level.
Below is a list of cookware materials that are commonly used at home and in cooking industries.
- Stainless Steel cookware is not heat conductive and does not spread heat evenly thus creating hot spots
- To distribute heat evenly stainless steel cookware can either be bought with a heat conductor attached to the bottom or in between the stainless steel piece, the latter option being the most expensive.
- Always use a plastic nylon brush when cleaning stainless steel cookware, a metal scrappesr or any other rough cleaning tool can easily scratch the cookware surface.
- Non stick cookware is stainless steel that is coated with non stick coating. A conductor is also required for non stick pans and the thicker the base, the better the cooking performance and fewer hot spots.
- Always keep non stick pots and pans on medium heat as over heating non stick cookware can cause the non stick coating to break down .
- Use only nylon brushes to clean the pots and pans and usually a good wipe with a paper towel is sufficient enough to clean the pan. No need for soap and rinsing.
- Copper cookware is the best heat conductive material but is also the priciest.
- Copper cookware’s conductivity eliminates hot spots.
- Copper is a reactive material that reacts and combines with certain acidic foods. Certain foods will absorb copper metal
- Copper cookware needs to be constantly maintained as it scratches and discolours easily.
- Aluminium Cookware is also another great heat conductive material, but can also be reactive, cooking acidic foods in aluminium cookware means the food does absorb the metal .
- Most restaurant kitchens use anodized aluminium so they do not wear down as easily.
- Cast iron cookware is not heat conductive
- Cast iron cookware is a reactive metal and food will absorb the iron metal. Some claim if you have iron deficiency to try cooking with cast iron to increase your iron intake.
- Cast iron cookware has to be seasoned every so often as the protective layer of oil or shortening can break down and cause food to stick and rusting.
Choosing Handles and Lids to your Cookware
Inspecting the handles and lids to your cookware set is vital because a cracked glass lid or a broken handle usually means extra expenses to fix it or just purchasing a whole new piece. Always look for tight fitting lids as it will trap more heat during the cooking process . The exception is glass lids that have the vent hole to help stop the lid from rattling.
When you purchase cookware always inspect the handles. Screwed on handles are common but when they become loose they need to be replaced. You also have the choice of welded on handles that are permanent and very durable. You should also check if its safe to transfer a stove top pan or pot into the oven without burning the handles. There is cookware that has plastic coating or silicon handles that do not fare well in the oven.
Buying cookware can be intimidating but if you follow these steps you will be a pro at picking out quality cookware.
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