Selecting the Best CookwareChoosing the best cookware can be a little intimidating unless you know what to look for. Once you know these tips, you'll be able to walk into any kitchen goods store or shop online with confidence, knowing you'll make the choice that is right for you.
BudgetIf you're on a budget, this will be an important part of your decision. If you're not on a budget, then go for it! Get the best of the best! You'll get to choose between stainless steel, anodized aluminum, cast iron and more. The good news is even if you are on a budget, you can still find high quality cookware that will give you good service.
Heat ConductivityDifferent metals conduct heat differently. Copper is an excellent heat conductor, but it is very expensive and needs a lot of care to look its best. Aluminum also conducts heat very well. There are a lot of stainless steel cookware that sandwich copper or aluminum between the inner and outer layers of stainless steel to benefit from their superior conductivity while keeping the easy care and classic look of stainless steel.
Stainless is not a great heat conductor, and that is why it is often combined with inner cores with better conductivity. For a pure aluminum choice, take a look at anodized aluminum, which undergoes a chemical process that makes the aluminum harder, non-porous and darker. This is an important consideration when choosing the best cookware. Cooking requires heat, after all.
Heat RetentionThe same metals that heat quickly will lose heat quickly. If it is important to you to maintain heat, choose a metal like cast iron. Bare cast iron and enameled with both keep your food hot long after you've removed the pan from the heat. Stainless steel cookware will retain heat longer than an anodized aluminum pan, even if it has an aluminum core because the stainless steel will cool down more slowly.
Cooking SurfaceThere are several surfaces to consider when choosing the best cookware. Nonstick is a coating that keeps foods from sticking. It is easy to clean and because you don't need to use oils to cook with, it is considered to be a healthy choice.
Cooking sprays should not be used on nonstick cookware.
Anodized aluminum has a sealed surface that is stick-resistant when used with oil and at the right temperature medium to low rather than at high heat. Stainless steel is similar. Bare cast iron requires seasoning to create a nonstick surface, but with a little care, you can create a natural nonstick pan.
Cookware HandlesHandles are important. It is imperative that they don't come loose while you're moving a hot, full pan from one place to another. Cast iron handles are usually molded as part of the pan. The next most durable handle is riveted. Your better stainless steel pans will feature this method of handle attachment.
Next, we'll look at welded handles. They are welded to the exterior of the pan, leaving the interior smooth. Last on the list are handles that are screwed on. You'll find these on economy cookware. If you notice the handle coming loose, you can easily tighten it with a screwdriver.
WarrantyGood cookware will have a good warranty. Excellent cookware will have an excellent warranty. The higher-priced cookware like All-Clad and Calphalon will give you lifetime warranties. Yes, they are more expensive, but they stand behind their products and they'll be the last set of cookware you ever buy.
Ease of CleaningHow important is it that your cookware can just be popped into the dishwasher? If this is very important to you, stainless steel or enameled cast iron may be your best bet. If you don't mind hand washing, cast iron, anodized aluminum and stainless steel with the copper showing may appeal to you. Be sure to follow the washing recommendations that come with your cookware so you don't void any portion of the warranty.
So, how do you choose the best cookware? Take a look at all the considerations above, and then choose the best from each category that fits your budget. It may take a little research and shopping around, but you'll find a set you'll be happy with.
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