Having a set of good cookware is an important starting point to having good luck cooking. Pots and pans may seem basic, but they are important tools.
The Importance Of Having Good Cookware
Is cookware a kitchen tool? Yes, it is one of the most important cookware tools that you will use in your kitchen. Cookware is the assortment of pots, pans and skillets that you will use to prepare the food that you are cooking. Often your recipe will be specific and call for a certain type of pan. Other times the choice is left to you and you can choose to use the pan or skillet that you are most comfortable with. Having a decent set of cookware can make your life in the kitchen a whole lot easier and you will have much better results.
First, look at the size of the pot or pan that needs to be used. If you are boiling water for hard boil an egg or two, you don’t need to use a Dutch oven. The flip side of that would be making pasta. Of one pound box of pasta means that you need to use a pot that holds up to a half gallon of water and can boil the water safely. A one quart pan won’t do that job properly. Size matters when choosing a skillet. Making an omelette in a skillet pan designed for omelettes is so much easier than trying to make a 12” skillet work. Always check the amount of ingredients that need to go into a specific pot or pan and make sure that you have the right size. Most cookware sets will come with two or three pans of different sizes as well as two skillets of different diameters.
What Is Good Cookware Made From?
Choosing a cookware set usually starts with deciding what material you want your pans made out of. There are a few standards when it comes to materials although some manufacturers have become more creative. Basic cookware sets are generally made from steel, anodized aluminum, non-stick aluminum or cast iron.
Stainless Steel Cookware
This material is usually a heavy duty stainless steel with an aluminum bottom for extra strength. It can handle high heat very well for long periods of time without warping. Clean up can be a bit more work than a non-stick and milk can scorch easily. You can’t put these pieces in the dishwasher.
Anodizing aluminum means that the material has been treated an electro-chemical process that makes the pot, pan or skillet harder, more durable and corrosion resistant. Cookware pieces that have been anodized will be heavier and last longer than untreated aluminum. You don’t want to scratch these pieces with metal utensils, you need to use silicone spatulas and spoons.
Non-stick cookware, often called Teflon, is aluminum pieces that are coated with a non-stick surface. The surface keeps foods of all kinds from sticking and burning on the pan and making it easy to remove food from the piece. These pans will be lighter than anodized aluminum but not as durable. Non-stick surfaces also require wooden or silicone rubber spatulas and spoons. If you scrape a non-stick surface you can end up with peeling, making the pan worthless. Electric griddles are always non-stick and they have become important kitchen tools as well.
If you have ever watched a cowboy movie then you have probably seen a campfire scene where someone is cooking with a cast iron skillet. Once the most common material for cookware, cast iron fell out of favor with the introduction of aluminum and light weight steel. Today it is making a comeback and many celebrity chefs swear by the versatility of cast iron. It is heavy, extremely durable and can handle high heats, both stove top and oven, for long periods of time. Once you have seasoned a cast iron pan you don’t need to do much to take care of it. Clean up is usually done with a towel and food doesn’t usually stick. Wooded or silicone rubber utensils are the best choices for cast iron.
Ceramic is also newly popular for cookware although it doesn’t quite have the history that cast iron does. Cookware that is ceramic is steel that has been coated with a ceramic finish. This gives you a heavy, durable pan that is non-stick but doesn’t have a chemical surface like Teflon. This cookware is strong and acts like cast iron but is easier to clean.
Cookware And The Dishwasher
We all love our dishwasher and try to put everything we can into it. Clean up is so much easier and you don’t need to get your hands wet and soapy. Putting cookware into a dishwasher is tempting, who wants to hand wash pots and pans? Sadly, your dishwasher can be the enemy to a good set of cookware. The soap used in a dishwasher actually is a bit gritty, even though it looks and feels silky smooth. This rough grit acts with the motion of the water to loosen and remove food particles from plates and glasses. Unfortunately, it also scratches some surfaces, especially aluminum and most non-stick. Some non-stick sets are now designed to be dishwasher safe but you are still risking scratched surfaces or cloudy finishes on your pots and pan. Do your cookware a favor and hand wash all of the pieces. It takes more time but in the long run you will have a great cookware set with no scratches.