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Cookware and its Material

Pots and Pans

Cast Iron cookware - this retains its heat really well, so it is great for frying foods. But it isn't good for delicate dishes of sauces and the metal react to acidic ingredients. Often, they need to be seasoned periodically but some come with a protective surface coating and do not require seasoning. Wipe it dry thoroughly after washing cast iron cookware to prevent rusting. Enameled cast iron will not corrode and is wonderful for stews, soups and casseroles because it heats slowly and retains heat well.

Copper Cookware - It heats fast and cools down just as rapidly, making it a chef's favorite. Because of it responses to heat very well, copper cookware is perfect for delicate sauces and sautéed dishes. However, they are very expensive and require good maintenance. Copper pans with stainless steel linings can last for a very long time. The type lined with tin will need to be replaced periodically.

Aluminum Cookware - Aluminum also is highly sensitive to heat and browns foods well, so it is ideal for frying and braising.

However, aluminum corrodes, discolors and gives a metallic taste to dishes when come in contact with acidic ingredients such as wine, vinegar, tomatoes, lemon juice and etc. The solution is enameled aluminum, which is non-corrosive. The downside of these cookware is they don't response to heat as well so it won't brown foods well. There's another type of aluminum cookware where the surface of the material has been anodized (changed chemically). It has all the virtues of regular aluminum but it isn't "reactive", which makes it versatile. However, it will darken certain foods, such as artichokes and you can't pit anodized aluminum cookware in the dishwasher. Non-stick pressure cast aluminum cookware is safe for use with all ingredients. It is easy to clean and browns foods well.

Stainless steel - Stainless steel doesn't react with any ingredients, it is durable and easy to clean, and you can put it in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, it doesn't response to heat very well and must be combined with better heat conducting metals so you'll notice that some stainless steel pots come with disks made of copper or aluminum on the bottom. Look for one with a thick disk and it should cover the entire bottom surface in order to conduct heat well. In the best stainless steel cookware, the entire core of the pan is made of aluminum or copper, while the surfaces are completely coated with stainless steel.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.