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.

Rachael Ray Orange 10 Piece Stainless Steel Set Review

Rachael Ray 10 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware SetThis set contains a 1½ quart saucepan with lid, a 3 quart saucepan with lid, an 8 quart stockpot with lid, an 8 inch skillet, a 10 inch skillet and a 10 inch (3 quart) sauté pan with lid.

This is a very ‘Rachael’ set with her trademark favorite  color orange.  If you like orange you will love this set – and it is also quite a good safety feature as it makes you more aware of where the handles are positioned on the stove top and so you automatically turn them in for safety. 

The stay-cool handles are also attached to the pans with double rivets making them extra strong.  They are easy-grip silicon and angled high so it doesn’t hurt your wrist to lift a full pan.

Stainless steel is not known for its’ ability to heat up quickly and evenly.  However the Rachael Ray 10-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set has a thick, flat aluminum base which makes up for this deficiency and it is great when you’re cooking as you don’t get hot spots that cause the food to stick and burn. 

It also has a nice satin finish rather than a shiny one  which is aesthetically pleasing – it looks really good. The slight rounding of the interiors from the base to the side makes them work like professional chef’s pans and gives great results.

The edges of the pans are slightly flared which makes it possible to pour from them without annoying drips. Dishwashing is not recommended but to be honest, because the bases are so thick, you don’t need a high heat so not much sticks to these – so hand washing isn’t a chore. 

If anything does stick, just give the pan a good soak in hot, soapy water and use a non-scratch dish scrubber.  Bar Keepers Friendwill get rid of even the most stubborn stuck or burnt on food.

The glass lids are great for seeing what’s happening to the food but the drawback with these is that there is no vent in the lid.  This means that as steam builds up, it clouds the glass so that you can’t see the contents and you do end up having to lift the lid off anyway.

A helpful bonus with this set is that the lids for the sauté pan and the Dutch oven also fit the 10 inch skillet so you don’t waste time hunting for lids. The set is compatible with all stove tops, even induction and is safe in an oven up to 400 degrees. All in all, a great ‘starter’ set for a reasonable price, which you can add to as there are many other matching items available.

Where Can I Buy the Rachael Ray 10 Piece Stainless Cookware Set?  Amazon

Is There a Doctor In The Kitchen? – Dr Andrew Weil’s Cookware

Dr Weil 10 Piece Stainless Cookware SetWhat have a Medical Doctor and Waterford Wedgwood got in common?  They have collaborated to produce an innovative line of cookware.  Dr Andrew Weil M.D. says “I believe good health begins in the kitchen and together, we have created the first authentic healthy lifestyle brand to provide consumers the tools they need for optimal food preparation.”

Who is Doctor Andrew Weil?

Doctor Weil studied botany at Harvard College.  He then went to Harvard Medical School but instead of taking a residency there, he completed his internship in San Francisco at Mount Zion Hospital, followed by a year working for the National Institute of Mental Health.

He became a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs and spent four years travelling throughout South America, publishing his first book ‘The Natural Mind’ in 1972.  The book explores the idea that the body creates its’ own natural highs, which medications access, rather than create. Doctor Weil has written or co-authored ten books.

Honors received by Doctor Weil

• He has appeared twice on the cover of TIME magazine (in 1997 and 2005).
• Doctor Weil has the honor of a mushroom named after him!  In 1995, Mycologists (mushroom experts) Dr. Gustan Guzman, Fidel Tapia, and Paul Stamets honored him by naming a newly discovered mushroom, Psilocybe weilii.
• In 1997, TIME also honored him as one of the 25 most influential Americans. 
• He was inducted into the Academy of Achievement in 1998
• In 2004, the New York Open Center honored Dr. Weil as having made “extraordinary contributions to public awareness of integrative and complementary medicine.”
• In 2005, TIME magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
• In the same year, Smithsonian Associates awarded him the John P. McGovern Award in Behavioral Sciences.
• In 2006, Dr Weil was award the honor of “Pioneer in Integrative Medicine” by the Institute for Health and Healing in San Francisco.
• Forbes on-line magazine listed his web site as one of the three “Best of the Web” in their  “Alternative Medicine” category.

Doctor Weil is now focusing on healthy living and general health care, with a particular interest in the health concerns of the growing population of older Americans.  In his book ‘Healthy Aging’, Dr Weil examines the aging process from all aspects – physical, social and cultural.  He advocates that people do not seek to reverse the process but focus on having good health, “serenity, wisdom and its’ own kind of power and grace.”

Why is Doctor Weil’s Cookware Healthy?

Dr. Weil believes that cookware should have the advantages of aluminum without it coming into contact with your food.   His cookware range features 5-ply bonded 18/10 stainless steel for optimum heating with a core of aluminium to ensure an even distribution of heat.  The unique part of the design is a rolled and sealed rim the makes sure no aluminium ever touches the food.

The cookware also has riveted handles that stay cool and has been ergonomically designed so that it is perfectly balanced for all types of stove tops, including induction.

Dr Weil’s Range of Cookware Includes:

Why is Aluminum Considered Unsafe?

Many people are scared to use aluminum cookware as they believe it may cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Back in the 1970’s, some researchers in Canada reported the finding that people who had died with Alzheimer’s had unusually high levels of aluminum in their brains.  It sparked controversy – was aluminum the cause of Alzheimer’s, or the result of it?  Many people were alarmed by this and threw away their aluminum cookware.
More recent studies would seem to indicate that the increased levels of aluminum were due to the Alzheimer’s itself.  Brains which have already suffered damage from Alzheimer’s will allow unusually high levels of aluminum in. 

This is not difficult as aluminum is everywhere.  The most common elements on Earth (in order of prevalence) are oxygen, silicone and aluminum.  It’s in air, water, soil and consequently in the plants and animals that we eat.

The Weil Foundation

Dr. Weil donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Spring Switzerland cookware directly to the Weil Foundation.  This is a non-profit organization which is dedicated to the support of integrative medicine through training, education and research.

Dr Weil’s Website

http://www.drweil.com/

The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set

stainless-steel-best-set-logo-blogA reader told us about a particular stainless steel cookware set that she had purchased. She couldn’t say enough good things about it. Now it took us a while to get around to reviewing this set…not sure why really but let’s just say that we are glad we eventually did.

Well were we surprised! After all of our research we could finally understand our readers enthusiastic praise for this cookware set.

This has all the qualitites of an All Clad cookware set but at a quarter of the price. Its a beautifully finished set which gives excellent performance

Want to know what this set is? CLICK HERE to find out…