Heavy Metal: A Cookware Material Review

Sometimes too many choices can make a decision more difficult, and thing is certain when choosing a new cookware set: you have a lot of choices.

Cookware is manufactured using all kinds of materials, but the most common are anodized aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, enameled metal, metal coated in a non-stick polymer and titanium. There are more, and copper can stand alone or be incorporated with some of these materials because it is a good conductor of heat, but these are the main categories.

So, let’s take a look at the properties of each.  

Anodized Aluminum 

You can probably find inexpensive pots and pans made from simple aluminum, but most aluminum cookware sets will be anodized. This is an electrochemical process that enhances aluminum, increasing its non-stick properties and rendering it non-reactive to acidic foods.  

The benefit of this over a non-stick polymer is that it is not easily damaged by metal utensils. It is also very durable considering how much lighter it is than cast iron or stainless steel.  

The drawback is that durable, lightweight non-stick quality tends to come at a higher price than cheaply made inexpensive cookware sets. That being said, Amazon have very competitive prices for anodized cookware sets such as the Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Cookware Set. read the review

Stainless Steel  

Stainless steel is durable, non-stick, stain-resistant and stylish. Stainless steel can be manufactured in several different ways with varying balances of metal added to the required chromium that makes it “stainless,” and these differences can impact quality and cost.

Something to remember about stainless steel is that it does not conduct heat very well and is often combined with either aluminum or copper. This is done by adding a disc of material to the bottom of the piece to help distribute heat, or the stainless steel is “clad” over an aluminum or copper core so that the conductive material runs up the sides and so better distributes heat.

Knowing how your stainless steel cookware is constructed will help you know how it will perform. In either case, though, high-quality stainless steel cookware performs very well. One of the best Stainless Steel cookware sets is the Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set. read the review

Stainless steel cookware can be heavy and it should be polished from time to time to keep it looking like new, and it should be hand washed.

Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware may be the most durable of the lot. It is heavy, dense and can survive a beating. It also cooks evenly and is easy to care for once it has been properly “seasoned.”

Seasoning cast iron cookware is necessary to keep it from rusting and to bring out its natural non-stick properties. It involves coating the metal with oil or shortening periodically throughout the life of the utensil. After seasoning a cast iron utensil should only be cleaned using hot water, and dried with a clean cloth.

Raw cast iron cookware is generally inexpensive and durable, which makes it a good choice for small investments. But, it is also very heavy and bulky and can be tiring to use for everyday cooking. 

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cookware is metal cookware that has been coated with enamel – a kind of smooth glass created with high heat. The metal coated could be aluminum, cast iron or some other metal.

Enameling can improve heat conductivity for more even cooking, as well as provide a non-reactive surface for cooking acidic foods. It is also very attractive and often comes in bright colors that can liven up a kitchen. 

Le Creuset have set the benchmark for practical, functional and beautiful enameled cast iron cookware

The drawbacks are usually cost, as well as being mindful of chipping the enamel. These pieces are not fragile, in fact they are chip resistant but they should be hand washed and they will chip if banged on with metal utensils. read the review

Copper 

Copper is common as a core metal in high-quality cookware because it has superior heat conductivity. This enables a copper utensil to evenly distribute heat as well as hold precise temperatures very well.  

Copper is also very beautiful, and gives a kitchen an unmistakable Old-World feel.  

The concern about copper, however, and the reason why it is used more frequently as a core is because it is highly reactive with foods and can alter the taste. In fact, most copper cookware is lined with tin or steel, so the only real benefit as compared to a clad utensil is the style and appearance.  

Finally, copper cookware is comparatively expensive, but it is beautiful, unique and delivers high-quality performance.

Titanium 

Titanium combines super lightweight material with durability to make the perfect cookware for all-day use, or for people who can’t lift heavy objects. The question is whether the weight of the cookware you use is a significant factor in your cooking.  

The reason is because titanium does not evenly distribute heat and so will be lined with another metal. In other words, aside from being lightweight and durable, the titanium metal provides no other benefit.  

Titanium cookware sets are amazingly durable considering how light they are.  

So, you can see that there are many material options when it comes to cookware. So many, in fact, it is important to consider your needs and budget before jumping into a purchase. Hopefully, these short descriptions will give you an idea of how to best outfit your kitchen.  

 

 

 

 

The Different Types of Cookware

Cookware is an important part of anyone’s kitchen. Without the right cookware it really makes it difficult to cook quality meals at home.

There are a variety of different materials to choose from when buying cookware. The first is stainless steel. This is the most popular and for good reason. Stainless steel cookware is strong, durable and is easy to clean. If it contains a layer of aluminum or copper in the base then it is even better as it provides even cooking and prevents hotspots.

The second type of cookware is cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware is a favorite for many people. It is strong and almost indestructible. It also cooks foods extremely well but it does have its drawbacks. It’s heavy so takes a bit of muscle to remove from the stove particularly if there is a lot of food in it to begin with.

Cast iron also requires seasoning so there is a little bit of maintenance involved to keep it working as it should. A popular alternative to bare cast iron is enamelled cast iron. This type of cast iron cookware has the best of both worlds. It has all the attributes of bare cast iron, however you don’t need to season it and clean up is a lot easier.

A third material commonly used in the manufacturer of cookware is hard anodized aluminum. This is a very popular choice as this type of cookware is non-stick making for easy cooking and even better – easy clean up! Hard anodized cookware is also quite strong.

Copper is another material used to manufacturer cookware. Copper is the choice for chefs who understand the benefits of copper. Copper is quick to react to temperature changes making it ideal for delicate sauces and gravies. It also cooks evenly preventing hotspots. The disadvantages of copper are that it can be expensive to buy and also difficult to maintain. That beautiful shiny copper needs to be cleaned regularly in order to keep it looking as good as the day it was bought.

Review: Lodge Enamel Coated Cast Iron 11″ Skillet

Lodge Enamel SkilletAs more and more research becomes available showing that Teflon coated cookware may not be good for us, more cooks are moving back to traditional cookware.

Cast iron cookware is natural; you don’t have to worry about any non natural materials entering the body.  However, while cast iron is an excellent cooking medium that holds heat, and is versatile it can sometimes add an off taste to acidic foods.  There is a way around this problem though and that is to choose enameled cast iron cookware.

Lodge manufacture a wide range of enameled cookware and one example of this is the versatile 11″ skillet.

The Lodge Enamel Coated 11″ Cast-Iron Skillet is the perfect blend of cast iron and enamel. You can move it from the stove top to the oven. It will perfectly cook your food in either environment. In fact you can sear a piece of meat on the stovetop then move it to the oven to finish cooking. Try doing that with a Teflon coated skillet with a plastic handle. You’ll end up with a melted goopy mess.

The Lodge enamel coated cast iron 11” skillet works great on any cook surface, even an induction range.  About the only place you won’t want to use it is in the microwave.

What We Like:

  • Heavy cast iron construction: This is a skillet that will last a lifetime.  It’s heavy but in a good way.
  •  It distributes heat throughout the cooking surface eliminating hot spots.
  • Thick enamel coating: This coating is on both sides of the skillet. It’s just as non stick as a Teflon pan.
  • You get great cooking and no chemical residue with enamel coated cast iron.
  • Hold Handle: We love having a grip opposite the main handle. It means you can grab both sides of the skillet and have compltete control over pour out fats, gravy etc. It’s little features like this that really enhances the Lodge line of cookware.

There are some things to consider:

Although the enamel is chip resistant, if you drop the pan in the sink or give it a hard knock, chances are the enamel will chip.

This Lodge pan is made in China, and some people tend to think Chinese made goods are inferior, although this is often a perception not necessarily a given.

You can read what others are saying and buy the Lodge Enamel Coated Cast-Iron Skillet from these trusted online merchants.

Engineering Meets Cooking to Create a Masterpiece

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Engineering doesn’t belong in cooking! Well, engineering created the cooking equipment we use, so it would be silly to ignore its role in cooking. A large part of designing anything is material selection. Materials have certain properties that make them good for some purposes and bad for others. There is no super material that is good at everything: light, strong, heat transfer, cheap, holds an edge, etc. When choosing cooking tools, consider both the material and the purpose of the piece. This will instantly tell you if it can perform the intended function. Of course, how the tool “feels” cannot be explained with numbers. That’s where testing comes in.

To demonstrate we’ll compare a cast iron frying pan to an aluminum one. Cast iron is a poor conductor of heat compared to aluminum. Why would you use cast iron as a material to make a frying pan? You want heat to move into the food you are cooking, right? The fact that it’s a poor conductor of heat, compared to aluminum, means it will slowly release heat at an even rate into what you are cooking. Searing is one of the cooking methods that surprisingly takes advantage of this cast iron property. For example with tuna, cast iron will sear the fish, but because of its low heat release rate, it will not over-cook the outside layer. The aluminum pan, which excels at conducting heat, will transfer heat so rapidly it causes the outside layer to actually over-cook.

“I am sold,” cast iron sounds perfect. There is the flip side. A side effect of cast iron’s poor heat conductivity is hot spots. If you are an experienced cook these can be managed, if not, you will learn how burnt food tastes. Other properties of cast iron as compared to aluminum are that it takes twice as long to reach cooking temperature and it’s super heavy. You can see there are reasons to use either type of material. What becomes more important is fitting the pan to the person’s skill level and cooking style.

Red Sauce Selective Focus, Selective ColorWhat this introduction points out, is that cooking tools don’t just happen. There are reasons why certain cooking tools are made out of certain materials. We noticed that all the currently available cooking sets do not consider these factors and deliver mediocre results. They might have an attractive price tag, but you will soon find yourself throwing most of it away or wondering why you have three frying pans that can’t fry properly.

 Apprentice Cookware used engineering principles to research and test all the items needed for everyday cooking and then crossed referenced it against real life cooking knowledge. The results determined the right items with the right features. The value of the set is not achieved by sacrificing quality, but rather by eliminating redundancy and making correct design choices. The result is a 39 piece, high quality cooking set that lets you cook right out of the box.

Why did Apprentice Cookware do all the research? So you don’t have to. The more people we can help start cooking the better! If you want a cooking set that actually cooks, then look no further.

For more details visit http://www.apprenticecookware.com.

Article written by www.apprenticecookware.com. 

Review: Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Logic SkilletThe cast iron skillet is a great addition to any kitchen. You can use it on gas or electric ranges and stoves as well as put it on the grill or over an open fire.

There are so many things you can do with cast iron that you can’t with Teflon coated or stainless cookware.

Cast iron heats much more evenly than the cheaper types of cookware. This means no more burns or hot spots in whatever you are cooking.

When it comes to using the 10-1/4’ skillet, you re going to be in love with this piece before you even turn on the heat of your stove.

Here’s why – The makers have saved you a lot of time in initial prep by making sure it comes to you pre-seasoned.

If you’ve never seasoned a piece of cast iron cookware before it can be a bit intimidating. The Lodge Logic Skillet takes the guesswork out of seasoning. You can just take it out of the box and start cooking.

Another area you will be impressed is with the quality of Lodge Logic Skillets. When you hold it you can feel the weight. It comes in at six pounds. There are a lot of pretty wimpy flimsy excuses for cast iron cookware and this certainly beats the pants off of them.

One really nice feature of the Lodge Logic Skillet is that it has two built in lips along the rim of the pan. This lets you pour liquids out without worrying about them spilling all over the sides. These little added features really set the Lodge Logic Skillet apart from its competitors.

Things We Like:

  • We love having a handle with a hole in it so we can hang the skillet up.
  • The small handle opposite the main handle is a great addition making handling a full pot easier.
  • They are just the right size is for cooking up a skillet full of bacon and eggs.

Update:

Since this post was written, I have purchased the 8″ Lodge Logic skillet. The reason I brought the smaller skillet is because I love to make omelets, both plain and souffle.

So I wanted to see if the cast iron pan would pass my test.  It certainly did. I removed the  instructions that were gummed to the base, washed the pan in very hot water, dried it well and then coated it in good quality olive oil

The pan is preseasoned so it didn’t require the full pre seasoning treatment. After bringing the pan slowly to the heat I cooked the first omelet which cooked to perfection.  One thing I hadn’t counted on was how hot the handle gets and picked it up without a pot mitt.  Big mistake so make sure that you have either a pot mitt or the love handle on hand when it comes time to pick up the hot pan.

Clean up is a breeze, simply rinse the pan under hot water, towel dry or dry using paper towel and coat with a thin layer of oil to stop the pan from rusting.

I have to say I am impressed with my Lodge Logic skillet.

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