If you've recently refurbished your kitchen, the next thing you are probably looking at upgrading is your cookware lineup. Yes, those pots and pans have ceased to be boring utensils in standard sizes and shapes. Think about all the fancy cookware used by celebrity chefs on cooking shows. Don't you want them for your home kitchen?
Cookware has evolved greatly in design in the last few years. Not just that, there is a greater variety in material - stainless steel, cast iron, copper and non-stick. Each has pros and cons and we have discussed them at length below.
1. Stainless steel -
A common sight in most households, stainless steel has been a classic choice. This alloy of steel, chromium and carbon will last you for many years. It is resistant to corrosion and abrasion. It does not react with anything so you can safely use it to cook anything from meats to sauces. Stainless steel is also easy on the pocket. If you are looking for multipurpose utensils, stainless steel is oven and broiler safe.
However, it has poor heat conductivity which often results in uneven cooking. Top of the line cookware usually add a copper or aluminum core to allow for even heating.
2. Copper -
For years, cooking in copper utensils has been recommended for its various health benefits. A little known fact is that copper offers the highest thermal conductivity. Thus, your food cooks evenly and quickly. It allows for more controlled cooking.
The major downside of using copper is that the metal reacts with acidic foods giving it a metallic taste. A tin or stainless lining will reduce the reactivity of copper cookware. The price point is also slightly steep. Copper is high maintenance in that you need to polish them regularly to keep them looking good. Copper cookware is great for occasional cooking but not for everyday use.
3. Aluminum -
Aluminum boasts of a lot of good features. It is an excellent conductor of heat. It is lightweight. It is budget friendly. Anodized aluminum is a material option for top of the line cookware. It makes up for all the weaknesses in raw, untreated aluminum. Some foods tend to go bitter when left in aluminum dishes; a few also get discolored. This is less likely to happen in anodized aluminum. The process of anodization also makes aluminum surfaces scratch resistant. It also makes it sturdier and prevents warping under extremely high heat.
4. Cast iron -
There are two options for cast iron cookware - uncoated and enameled. Its strongest point is its durability; you will often find cast iron utensils being passed down through generations. It takes time to heat, but cooks evenly. To add, it retains heat well. Cast iron offers a good non-stick surface for cooking. It is affordable.
Cast iron reacts with food; however, the issue can be resolved with regular seasoning. Seasoning also prevents rusting. Where maintenance is concerned, you might be required to do a little more work with cast iron utensils.
So, depending on what you cook and how often you cook, you should choose cooking materials that will be best suited to you.