Cookware is made from many different materials, and those materials perform differently.
Aluminium is a very common and inexpensive material used in cookware.
You can find pots that are made exclusively out of aluminium and they heat quickly and are very durable. Aluminium however is a reactive metal which means that it can impart flavour and leave an off colour in acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons and other fruits. Aluminium pans also tend to discolour and stain more easily than other materials, so if you like your cookware to look shiny and new you may want to steer clear of pans made exclusively of aluminium. If you have an induction range, or might be looking to upgrade to one in the future it is important to note that aluminium is not magnetic and therefore will not work on an induction range. If you’re investing in a cookware set, we recommend buying one that is induction ready so that you will not have to upgrade later in life.
Stainless steel is a great material to use in cookware as it is incredibly strong and keeps it’s lustre for many years.
Plus if you burn something to it you can scrub to your heart’s content and you are unlikely to damage the cooking surface. Stainless steel on its own however is not the greatest conductor of heat, so we recommend a pan clad with layers of stainless steel and aluminium to help pass the heat quickly and evenly.
Cast iron is no longer resigned to grandma’s house, it has had an incredible resurgence after many years cast aside for the seemingly super versatile non-stick pan. Heavy in weight, they heat up slowly and retain that heat to pass evenly throughout the pan, making them ideal for stews and meats that need to cook low and slow for a long time.
Cast iron skillets are an excellent choice for searing meats as well, because the pan can tolerate high-heat better than most.
Cast iron can commonly be found either raw, seasoned or enamel coated. Raw or seasoned cast iron require slightly different maintenance than the average pot; it is recommended to avoid cleaning with soap as the soap tends to strip away the oils built up on the surface. An unseasoned pan is prone to rusting. A well-seasoned pan will develop natural non-stick properties as well. Like aluminium cookware, cast-iron is reactive to acidic foods and can change the taste and look of certain recipes.
Enamel coated cast iron is a very popular option as it does not have the same maintenance needs as regular cast iron. You can wash with soap just like your other pans, but they will likely not develop the same non-stick qualities.
Copper pans have been used in professional kitchens for generations.
Copper is the best conductor of heat used in cookware; heat passes quickly and evenly and copper is unlikely to produce hot spots that cause food to cook at different rates. This superior conductivity also helps the pan respond quickly when you turn the heat up or down. This also means that you should have your ingredients chopped and ready to go.
For everyday cooking, it is recommended to select a copper pan lined with tin or stainless steel. Most foods will react with unlined copper and produce a toxic reaction. Frequent consumption of food from unlined copper can result in too much copper in the body, called Copperiedus, which has a host of nasty symptoms. You may however cook sugar and beat egg whites in unlined with no ill-effects.
The quality and the cost of copper pans or pans with copper in them can vary greatly. It is important to consider the thickness of the copper of any pan you buy as well as the source.
Any pan is NO-STICK if you NO COOK in it!
The market place is flooded with non-stick cookware that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. We believe in giving our customers all the tools and information to make the right decisions about what they bring into their home and what will be a good fit. No matter the brand, the material or the promises, non-stick cookware has its limitations.
- Some non-stick coatings can tolerate high heat better than others, but over time if you are cooking on too high of a flame, your coating will not last. Non-stick pans are better suited to delicate items such as eggs or fish that do not require high heat to cook. Searing meat for instance is better suited to other materials.
Choose the right oil
- Olive oil is great for salads, but as a cooking oil it’s not our first choice. Once heated, olive oil becomes sticky and will start to build up on even the best non-stick. Food will start sticking to that oil build-up and because you shouldn’t scrub a non-stick pan too vigorously it is very difficult to get off.
- Ceramic based non-stick coatings are very popular as they are much more durable than most non-stick coatings. They are however, not as non-stick, you will require some type of fat or oil to help with most types of food.
- Rather than a coating that is applied to the surface of a pan, some coatings are forged into the pan, meaning that the coating is baked on. Forged non-stick surfaces are extremely durable and resistant to scratching and peeling. We at Chef’s Paradise still recommend to limit your exposure to high heat and choose your oils carefully.