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» How To Select Cookware, Pots and Pans

How Did I Do It? > Food & Drink > How To Select Cookware, Pots and Pans
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Get the low down on shopping for cookware, pots and pans to outfit your kitchen.
Get the low down on shopping for cookware, pots and pans to outfit your kitchen.
Quality pots and pans are a delight to anyone who loves to cook. And even for those who don’t love cooking, they make life easier when preparing meals!

Regardless of the kind of cookware you buy, there are a few things that hold true; you want the cookware you select to have thicker bottoms, with good heat distribution, and made of a material that won’t chip or peel.

A pot that has good conductivity will create even temperatures on the bottom of the pot as well as up the sides of it so that the food cooks all the way around.

When you are looking at pots and pans, another thing you’re going to want to take into consideration is the handle. Does it seem securely attached? Not just the single screw holding it on, but real security that isn’t going to give way when you are holding a heavy pot of soup.

Select a set of pots that uses very heavy screws, is built of one piece or has multiple rivets in the handles. Some of the cookwares that you’re going to see will have heat resistant handles.

Another cookware consideration is the shape and the size of the handles. Does it fit your hand or is it far too large, and will there be enough room to comfortably use a pot holder with it? Another think to look for in a handle is the shape and size. You want enough room to be able to grab with potholders and a comfortable shape for picking up.

A matched set of pots and pans will make your kitchen time more enjoyable and convient.
A matched set of pots and pans will make your kitchen time more enjoyable and convient.
When choosing new cookware, a few factors come into play:

  • Price
  • Material
  • Color
  • Lids and Handles
  • Matching Set

Aside from price, the materials used to make cooking pans and pots are probably the most important consideration. You want cookware that conducts heat as efficiently as possible.

Ideally, quality cookware should disperse heat evenly so that no hot and cold spots will exist while you are cooking, which makes it easier to brown food evenly. A good pot or pan should also heat up and cool down quickly; another good sign of quality cookware, which is critical for sautéing and making sauces.

Here is a rundown on the various types of cookware to consider:

Copper – While copper looks great, it will be more expensive than cookware made with other materials and can be reactive, tampering with the flavor of acidic foods you may be preparing. Copper also scratches easily.

Aluminum – A less expensive alternative, aluminum may also be somewhat reactive and generally does not last as long as iron cookware, since it is a softer metal. Higher quality aluminum cookware should be anodized, which prevents it from being so reactive and increases its durability.

Cast Iron – A great heat conductor, cast iron cookware is relatively inexpensive, but can be prone to rusting, pitting and reactivity. Unless coated with enamel, cast iron is also very sticky, which is why good cooks let their cast iron pots and pans season; coating all the surfaces with shortening or oil and then baking the fat into the surfaces to seal it. This helps prevent rust and reaction from the metal as well as creating a non-stick surface to cast iron cookware. For this reason, many brands of cast iron cookware will have an enamel coating which negates the need to season the pots and pans.

Stainless Steel – Most stainless cookware pieces are reinforced with an aluminum bottom or aluminum sandwiched between inner and outer layers of stainless steel, which is a great method of construction for cookware with excellent heat conduction for cooking. This is what All Clad and other quality manufacturers sell in their premium cookware lines.

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