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.
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 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 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
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 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 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.