When it comes to cookware, there are so many choices! Each type has its pros and cons and may be more suitable for particular cooking methods. Let’s take a look at a few of the popular choices.
This versatile item has for decades been associated mostly with skillets but it is also excellent for Dutch ovens, griddles and grill pans. These pieces are durable and resist warping, denting and last forever if care is taken. Cast iron has the advantage of being safe for use on your stovetop, in the oven and even over a fire pit.
Cast iron does take time to heat up but once heated, it retains the heat very well. Cast iron pans work best when seasoned with oil. Although seasoning is not difficult, it does take time and needs to be done on a regular basis to protect its surface. Follow the advice of the manufacturer.
Cast iron cookware is great for searing meat and frying on the stove, baking and roasting in the oven.
Care and Cleaning
Never put your cast iron pan in the dishwasher. Clean gently with a bit of soap and water but don’t leave standing in water. It is likely to rust.
Season with oil after each use. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
- Lasts a lifetime if care is taken
- Withstands temperatures of over 500 degrees
- Cast iron is very heavy
- It takes a while to heat up
- Reactive to acidic foods such as tomatoes
- Needs more maintenance than some other types
Enameled Cast Iron
These attractive pots and pans come in an assortment of colors and are very durable. Care should be taken in buying a good quality brand to ensure that the enamel is thick enough so that it won’t chip easily. It is very easy to maintain. The enamel coating provides a mildly non-stick surface. Since the enamel coating is non-reactive you can cook all types of food in an enamel pot.
Enameled cast iron cookware is suitable for stovetop and oven cooking. You can do everything from boil, sear, fry, roast, braise and bake in them. They’re also great for soups and stews. Enameled cast iron conducts and retains heat very well and is energy efficient. It maintains heat on a medium setting.
Care and Cleaning
Because sharp utensils can damage the enamel coating, use nylon or wooden utensils only when cooking. Usually a soapy sponge or brush will clean well. Never use steel wool. Enameled cast iron is dishwasher safe.
- Energy efficient, retains heat well
- Moderately non-stick
- Easy to maintain
- Attractive – can go from stove to table presentation
- Does not rust like uncoated regular cast iron
- More expensive than other types of cookware
- Lower end may chip more easily
- Is very heavy and enamel can break if dropped
Stainless steel is a healthy cookware choice that can last a long time. On its own, stainless steel is a not a good heat conductor. Its best to pick a model that has a core of aluminum or copper.
Aluminum-core pots and pans are more affordable than copper-core. However, copper is a slightly better conductor of heat compared to aluminum. Copper-core pans react more quickly to temperature changes, giving the cook more control over the cooking process.
Stainless steel is made by adding chromium and nickel to steel. The best stainless steel sets are stamped with “18/10” (the ratio of chromium to nickel added).
Stainless steel cookware is oven and broiler safe. It works well for pressure cookers and big pots of soup, steamed vegetables, and cooking legumes and grains.
Care and Cleaning
It is preferable to use wood or plastic utensils because metal objects can cause superficial scratches. For greasy or stuck on food, sprinkle baking soda onto pots and pans and scrub with a sponge. Stainless steel is dishwasher safe.
- Well made stainless steel pots and pans can last for decades
- Resistant to rust, corrosion, scratching, and denting
- Stainless steel isn’t great for frying or sautéing because it isn’t non-stick
- High-quality stainless steel cookware can be pricey.
- Poor heat conductor if it doesn’t have a copper or aluminum core
Aluminum is lightweight and conducts heat well, making it a popular choice for cooking.
Many pieces are either clad with stainless steel or are anodized (a process that hardens the surface and is reputed to reduce leaching of aluminum to make it safer). Manufacturers now routinely anodize pieces because it is attractive, more durable and easier to clean. Anodized aluminum cookware conducts heat as well as ordinary aluminum.
Aluminum cookware is good for delicate items that tend to stick like eggs, fish, and crepes, sautéing and searing.
Care and Cleaning
Anodized aluminum can be cleaned much like stainless steel – soap and water, a plastic scrub brush for tough spots, and no harsh cleaners or steel wool. Most anodized aluminum will be dishwasher safe but check with the manufacturer to be sure.
- Excellent thermal conductivity
- Lightweight and affordable (higher end is more expensive)
- Scratch-resistant and strong
- A better heat conductor than stainless steel
- Some anodized aluminum will not work on induction burners (make sure to double check before purchasing)
There has been quite a debate about whether aluminum cookware poses a health risk. According to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,
“Exposure to the levels of aluminum that are naturally present in food and water and the forms of aluminum that are present in dirt and aluminum pots and pans are not considered to be harmful.
“Eating large amounts of processed food containing aluminum additives or frequently cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots may expose a person to higher levels of aluminum than a person who generally consumes unprocessed foods and uses pots made of other materials (e.g., stainless steel or glass). However, aluminum levels found in processed foods and foods cooked in aluminum pots are generally considered to be safe.”
These are just some of the cookware choices available. Stay tuned for more!
When your stove or other major appliance needs repair or maintenance, call the experts at C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or fill out our on-line service request form for prompt, reliable service.