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.

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. 

A Guide to Dutch Ovens

Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 8 Quart Camp Dutch OvenMost people have heard of Dutch ovens, but few know exactly what they are, or how they can be used in the kitchen.Some people  think that this kind of pot is too old-fashioned for modern use, but many cooks still use them today. This guide will tell you things you need to know about these useful and durable ovens.

What is a Dutch Oven?
A  Dutch Oven is a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron, either plain or enameled, though some modern ones are made of aluminum, ceramic, or steel.

They first gained popularity as a campfire oven, because they could be used for so many different types of cooking, including boiling, steaming, baking, and roasting. when you were out camping. The Dutch oven could replace several different types of pots and pans, which was important when all of your worldly belongings had to be stowed atop a pack horse.

The heavy metal construction also meant that they were difficult to damage, even when crossing heavy terrain, and these useful cooking tools were often were passed down through generations.

Alternate Names for Dutch Ovens
These ovens are also referred to as French ovens, cocottes, camp ovens, and casserole dishes. Names often vary depending on the country where they are used.

Two Types of Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are still popular today. They can be divided into two separate types of oven, depending on how they are used:

Dutch Ovens for Camping
The same qualities that made Dutch ovens a favorite of settlers moving into the Wild West continue to make them popular among campers today. While most chuckwagon Dutch ovens are made of bare steel, aluminum ovens are not as durable, but are much easier to carry with you on the trail.

Modern-day Dutch camping ovens usually have three legs to hold the pan above the coals and rim along the top that allows coals to be placed on the lid for even cooking from each side. A handle stretches from one side of the pot to the other, allowing it to be hung over the fire if need be.

Dutch Ovens for the Kitchen
Dutch ovens used in modern kitchens have a flat base to make them rest more easily on the stovetop, and small handles on each side of the pot, plus they are generally enameled, which makes them more colorful and eliminates the need for seasoning.

Le Creuset 13.25-qt. Enameled Round Dutch Oven, Flame
When to Use Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens are excellent for long, slow cooking. They are often used for chili, stews, and beans. In the kitchen, these versatile pots can be used in the oven or on the stove. Some other uses for Dutch ovens include:

  • Roasting – set in the oven for fantastic roast beef, pork, or chicken.
  • Baking – create breads, biscuits, and cakes in your Dutch oven.
  • Steaming – cook fresh, fantastic, healthy vegetables, fish, and seafood.
  • Boiling – use for rice, potatoes, and other side dishes as well as for coffee or hot chocolate.
  • Pan Frying – the lid of a Dutch oven can be used as a griddle. Make pancakes, fried eggs, or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Care of Dutch Ovens
If your Dutch oven is made of bare cast iron, it must be seasoned before use like any other cast iron pot or pan. When cleaning cast iron cookware, don’t use soap – it will destroy the seasoning. Simply scrub with plain water and then heat the pan until all of the remaining residue burns off.

A Dutch oven is a fun and versatile tool to have on hand, whether you intend to cook at home or on the trail. If you don’t already own one, you should consider adding it to your kitchen; it could become one of your favorite pieces of cookware.

More Information about Dutch Ovens

The Versatile All Clad Dutch Oven
A Quick Guide to Dutch Ovens – How to Season your Dutch Oven

The All Purpose Dutch Oven
Tips for Using Your Dutch Oven
How to Store Your Dutch Oven
Why are Dutch Ovens Called Dutch
Dutch Ovens- Quick Facts
What to Look for When buying a Dutch Oven

The All Purpose Dutch Oven

green-dutch-ovenWe have extolled the virtues of the Le Creuset Dutch Oven in the past. The cast iron construction is superior to other cookware because it absorbs and retains heat more efficiently as your pot roast, chicken and vegetables slowly braise and stew in the oven. Braise, stew, brown…do it all in this all-purpose pot. It’s perfect, and its heat retention is amazing. The oven also cleans up really well.

The artisans at Le Creuset have been making richly enameled cast iron cookware in the French village of Fresnoy-le-Grand since 1925. Each piece from their line is individually created, coated, fired and inspected in order to bring you the finest quality cookware-to-tableware available.

The 6.75-qt. oval Dutch oven is fitted with two loop handles and comes with a domed lid to seal in the juices while your dish cooks. Oven-safe to 450 degrees.

The Dutch oven has one drawback in that it is heavy.

About the Dutch oven
Tips for using your Dutch Ovens
How to store your Dutch Oven
What can I cook in a Dutch Oven
What to look for when buying a Dutch Oven


Le Creuset 3.5-qt. Enameled Wide Round Dutch Oven, Kiwi