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Whether you’re a culinary beginner or serious about the kitchen, having great cookware can make cooking a pleasure. To determine what kind of cookware best suits you, it’s important to get a realistic handle on your cooking style.

For many people, the convenience of an easy clean up is a priority. You need to decide whether you would be willing to wash something by hand.

What Should You Look For When Buying Pots and Pans? Pans Should:

  1. Conduct heat well.
  2. Cook food evenly.
  3. Be resistant to cracking or chipping.
  4. Have stay-cool handles, and non-slip grips on both pot handles and lids
  5. Have lids that fit tightly.
  6. Have non-stick surfaces (which will make for an easier clean up).
  7. Also – make sure pieces are dishwasher safe.

What Pots And Pans Do You Need for a Well-Stocked Kitchen?

You can buy cookware and bakeware pieces separately (referred to as “open stock”), or as a set. Many 7-to-20-piece starter sets are available. Generally speaking, if you are just starting out, 6 to 10 pieces should be sufficient. Here are the basics:

Skillets: (a 12-inch and an 8 inch for omelets, pancakes, saute’s)
Stock pot with lid (6 to 12 quarts)
Saucepans (one 3/4 or 1 quart for soups and sauces, one 2 or 3 quarts for boiling pasta)
Round or oval Dutch Oven with cover (4 to 6 quarts, for stews and chili)
Steamer insert
Grill pan
Double boiler

Materials For Pots And Pans?

The material the pot or pan is made out of has a lot to do with the quality of what you’re buying. What types of materials do they come in? What are the options?

Aluminum: This is a popular cookware material, because it heats up quickly and evenly. Also, it’s available with a non stick surface – or stainless steel lining. Either way, it’s easy to clean.

Anodized Aluminum: This is harder and denser than regular aluminum. It is a type of aluminum that has been treated electrochemically, so the surface is hard, scratch resistant, and will not react with food acids. Available with non-stick finish.

Copper: In addition to being the oldest cookware metal, it heats up and cools off quickly. Many chefs favor copper, because it is energy efficient. Physically, copper is also quite beautiful. When looking for copper cookware, remember that the best kind is lined with stainless steel. It is a bit pricey compared to other materials, so you may want to consider purchasing only a few key pieces of it.

Stainless Steel: Pros: This is a durable metal that is often bonded to an aluminum or copper disc in the base of the pot/pan. This helps to distribute the heat better. Another positive point is that stainless steel will not tarnish or corrode.

Cast Iron: Heavy iron pots and pans absorb heat quickly, distribute it evenly, and retain it for maximum fuel efficiency. Great for frying, browning, and baking. Downside: It’s heavy.

Enamel Cookware: A colorful, often decorated exterior that protects a cast-iron inside from nicks. The enamel also prevents rust. These pots and pans go easily from oven to table.

Non-Stick: A cookware surface that’s extremely easy to clean and requires little or no cooking oil.

T-Fal: The first company to make a non-stick pan, 40 years ago. (They used the coating that DuPont invented).

Brands of Pots and Pans to Look For:

All-Clad: Gleaming aluminum is the distinguishing feature of All-Clad products. They’re made of a blend of fine materials – a stainless steel interior, a heat-responsive aluminum core, and an anodized exterior. Handles are made of cast stainless steel or brass.

Calphalon: Made from heavy gauge anodized aluminum, which allows quick and even heating. Cast metal handles are oven and broiler safe. Calphalon offers non-stick and tri-ply stainless collections. Some stainless pieces come with glass lids. They also make a full line of bakeware. Calphalon offers a lifetime guarantee. This was the first professional cookware made available for home use in the US. Also, the Culinary Institute of America uses Calphalon.

Chantal: A contemporary line of cookware with a carbon steel surface and porcelain enamel finish, with glass lids and stainless steel stay-cool handles. So pretty it can go from oven to table, and it comes in a nice range of colors.

Le Creuset: Shiny exteriors in great colors and classic styling let you proudly take this French cast iron cookware from the oven to the table. The weight and heat-holding abilities of cast iron allow slow, gentle cooking, for scrumptious stews, roasts, chicken , and casseroles — and the pieces retain heat so well, food stays warm throughout your meal. Everything can be used on the stove top, under the broiler, or in the oven. The durable porcelain enamel coating prevents absorption of odors and flavors, and makes clean up simple. Colors include flame, red, white, blue, black, green, creme, and saffron. This product also comes with a lifetime warranty.

One Comment

  1. Jair
    2:18 pm on September 2nd, 2012

    Congratulations on your great new gift! Cast iron cwkooare is considered pretty fabulous stuff because it cooks evenly and lasts forever. There are also some . Seasoning a cast iron pan (or skillet) isn’t hard just a little time consuming. It serves the dual purpose of creating a non-stick surface and also prevents it from rusting. Most cast iron pans are dark gray when new, and as they are seasoned, become darker even black. (Shown here is the .)To everything, there is a seasonHere are some tips on properly seasoning your cast iron cwkooare:If your pan is new, wash it thoroughly for its last bath with soap (well, dish detergent) and water. Be sure it’s completely dry.We recommend using solid vegetable shortening to season your pan vegetable oil, unfortunately, can make it sticky, and lard and butter run the risk of turning rancid. Use a paper towel to thoroughly coat the with the shortening (excluding a non-iron handle). Place the greasy pan on a foil-lined baking tray, upside down (to allow any grease to run out) and put it in a 300 to 350 degree oven for about two hours. Next, turn off the oven and allow the pan to cool inside, with the oven door closed, overnight or for at least six hours.Cleaning and upkeepTo clean your seasoned pan, scrape it as clean as you can, then rinse it with hot water and use a soft sponge. Dishwashing detergent or a trip inside your dishwasher scouring sponges and other scrubbers will remove the seasoning coat, so take it easy. (Note that if your cast iron pans aren’t seasoned properly, they will leak dark liquid into food. )Other tips for cast iron pan care:Don’t use high cooking temperatures go with medium or medium-high settings.Don’t keep food in the pan after it is cookedStore your pans in a warm and dry placeDon’t put your lids on cast iron pans when they’re in the cupboard if you do, moisture may cause the pan to rust.Cast iron, especially when new, is best for cooking foods with a high fat content. Cook watery foods and those with a high acid content (tomatoes, for example) in other cwkooare.If your pan is imparting a particularly metallic flavor, it’s time to re-season the pan.This answer was adapted from an article Mrs FF wrote for ChefMom.com in April 2002, which is no longer online.

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