Cookware consists of different types of pots and pans that are used for specific purposes, however, some pieces of cookware can be substituted for a type you may not have and still accomplish the type of cooking you want to do. Pots and pans are available in different sizes and material. Some materials are better than others are when used for specific cooking methods. When selecting the appropriate cookware for your kitchen, you might want to consider the following:
Budget – Purchase the best quality of cookware that you can afford. It will be well worth it in the end. Otherwise, you will find yourself replacing them in a short time.
Cooking Habits – Decide how much cooking you will be doing. Do you eat out a lot and buy convenience food or do you like to prepare meals from scratch? Will you be entertaining a lot?
Cuisine – Will you be making a lot of pasta, soups, or stir-fries? There are special pots and pans that assist in preparing these types of food.
Quantity – Will you be cooking for one, two or several? Having the right size cookware will be important when preparing your food.
Aluminum cookware is inexpensive compared to that of other materials. It is lightweight but strong. It is a good conductor of heat and does not easily distort when exposed to high temperatures. The drawback of aluminum is that it reacts to acidic and alkaline foods, which may cause it to corrode and possibly affect the taste of the food. Aluminum is generally used as a core heat conductor, or coated with stainless steel or an anodized coating to protect the food. It heats quickly and evenly and can be used for all types of cooking, especially sautéing and frying.
Stainless Steel cookware sets are popular because they offer low maintenance. It heats quickly and unevenly but is easy to clean. You may need to increase baking time. For stovetop use, it needs a core of aluminum of copper for more even heating. Stainless steel can be made stick resistant if manufactured with silicone. Silicone and like products are not are not merely surface coatings such as Teflon. The silicone will last longer and make the product much easier to care for, albeit more expensive. People who are extremely sensitive to nickel might want to avoid using stainless steel cookware.
Cast Iron cookware heats slowly and evenly and maintains heat for slow browning and frying. It is unquestionably the best value in the kitchen. Properly seasoned and given good care cast iron cookware is great for most kinds of stovetop and outdoor cooking as well as baking. Although it is inexpensive, it outperforms many modern materials found in expensive new cookware. Once you know what you are looking at, you can buy used Wagner cast iron cookware or Griswold cast iron cookware (neither is made anymore); but at first you should buy it new. Lodge Cast iron cookware is the major American-made brand of bare-metal cast iron cookware today.
Copper cookware heats very quickly and evenly. It is good for all types of cooking, especially delicate sauces. You may need to reduce cooking time and temperature. Today, copper cookware usually means cookware that has stainless steel on the cooking surface and copper on the outside. Stainless steel is a much more carefree surface than tin, for a variety of reasons; but it largely negates the benefits of the copper body. Copper bottom cookware has always been popular for its appearance, but it requires some maintenance to keep that gleaming new look.
Buying Cookware in Sets
The advantage of buying cookware in sets is a cookware set costs less than the total number of the same pieces bought separately as open stock and will be a visually attractive purchase for those who have an open kitchen. Another advantage is that it is easier to learn how to use and maintain one make of cookware than have to learn to a number of different pieces.
The disadvantage of buying cookware in a set is the selected pieces available in a cookware set may not include the pieces necessary for your style of cooking. Another disadvantage is that in the future if you wish to purchase additional pieces the line may have been discontinued or redesigned and your pieces will not match, or may include pieces you will never use.
Additionally, the number of pieces included in the set, the big bold number on the outside of the box, may be misleading. Check to see how many main pieces are in the box, not including lids and cooking utensils, which add to the piece count. You may also want to check the price and availability of open stock.
The advantages of non-stick surfaces that are bonded to pots and pans include ease in cleaning and their use for low fat cooking. The disadvantages are that they begin to lose their non-stick quality after only a few years.
Cookware comes in all different sizes, shapes and quality. What pieces of cookware are most suitable for your kitchen depends on many factors including the size of your family, the type of entertaining you do, and how much you can afford to spend. To avoid constantly having to replace the frequently used pieces that have become unserviceable, you might want to consider buying cookware as a long-term investment and purchase the best you can afford.