Photo: Brooke Lark / Unsplash
So, you’re thinking about purchasing some new cookware.
There’s nothing quite like cooking with brand new cookware. But what kind should you get?
You have many options when it comes to kitchenware, and the choices can be overwhelming if you don’t know what each type has to offer in terms of meeting your cooking style. Before you run out and buy the first non-stick pans you see or opt for something new and trendy (silicone?), read through the sections below. We’ll explore some of the common cookware types and what each brings to the table.
1. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a common material used in making pots and pans. Quality stainless steel cookware sets heat up quickly and won’t react to alkaline or acidic foods, which means they won’t alter the flavor of your food. Stainless steel pots and pans are also dishwasher and oven safe, as long as their handles are also made of stainless steel.
The only downside to stainless steel cookware is that it might not heat evenly. Many high-end cookware manufacturers, however, will add copper or aluminum cores, which fixes this problem.
2. Cast Iron
Cast iron is a versatile and durable material for cookware. When taken care of correctly, it actually adds a lot of flavor to your food.
Cast iron pots and pans are affordable, and they can handle high heat, allowing them to go from stovetop to oven for one-pan cooking. Cast iron also distributes heat well, which results in more even cooking.
As great as cast iron is, it requires more TLC than other types of cookware. It must be seasoned before first use and then cleaned and maintained properly to retain its non-stick, rust-free surface.
Copper conducts heat well, which is why it’s often added to stainless steel cookware. While copper cookware cooks evenly, it’s expensive and isn’t suitable for everyday cooking.
Copper reacts with acidic and alkaline foods, so you won’t be able to cook everything in it. It also requires cleaning with vinegar and salt to keep it in tip-top condition.
4. Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware is probably the most popular choice for kitchens today. These pots and pans have a non-stick surface that’s easy to cook on and clean. Unfortunately, cheaper non-stick cookware is coated with Teflon, which is believed to leach into food once it is scratched or cracked.
If you’re considering non-stick cookware, look for a quality brand that doesn’t use harmful chemicals to coat its surfaces.
Glass cookware is pretty but not all that popular as far as pots and pans go. You’ll find more glass casserole dishes than pots and pans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
The biggest benefit of glass cookware is that you can see your food cooking, allowing you to keep an eye on its progress. With that said, glass isn’t a very good conductor of heat, so food is more apt to burn and stick if you aren’t careful.
A new trend in cookware is silicone. Because non-stick cookware with Teflon has caused such a ruckus, silicone has become more popular as of late. It’s easy to clean, non-stick, and stain resistant. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research as to its safety as a cooking material.
If you’re in the market for some new cookware, don’t just buy the first snazzy set you see. Consider your cooking style, and understand the pros and cons of the material each set is made of to ensure it will meet your needs best.