Good cookware is one of the best investments you can make, but there are endless choices and picking the right can be difficult. The first thing you should determine is what kind of cooking you are going to do, how many people you are going to cook for and your level of expertise. You should build your selection by choosing basic pieces first and then adding specialty pans that you desire.
Types of Cookware
The thing you should look up when looking for new cookware is the different models of pieces that are available. If you are a beginner in the kitchen you will most likely need efficient solutions for your cookware needs. So let’s start out with the basics, when selecting new cookware there are four major pieces to consider:
- Fry pan
- Sauté pan
The Stockpot is a large, deep pot with a flat bottom. It is used to cook liquid foods that do not need to be extremely close to the heat source. Stockpots let you sauté or brown, and then add liquids when making stocks, soups, or stews.
Fry Pan / Skillet
A Fry Pan or Skillet is an essential workhorse in the kitchen. These pans are designed with a flat bottom and rounded sides, which makes them perfect for fast cooking with oils over very high heat.
Cast Iron Skillet
Another form of skillets are Cast Iron Skillets. Cast Iron Skillets are similar to fry pans, however the main difference is the care and the material they are made out of. Seeing as these skillets are made of cast iron they can be pretty heavy.
The Sauté Pan is meant for sautéing, which translates into being able to fry food while moving it around quickly in the pan, all while covered with a lid. Sauté pans are similar to fry pans when it comes to the design, they too have a flat bottom, however the main difference between fry and sauté pans is that instead of having rounded sides, sauté pans have straight sides.
The Sauce Pan has a rounded bottom and tall, straight sides. This means that they are a very versatile cookware choice, and can be used when making all kinds of sauces and soups. These pans can be used with or without a lid to control evaporation, which is why sauce pans are a go-to in any kitchen.
Ready to Add More to Your Collection?
If you are ready to start adding to your collection cookware you should think about pieces such as – a braiser pan, a griddle, or a wok.
Braiser pans or Braisers are a large, flat bottom pan with a moisture-locking lid. This design makes the Braiser Pan a multitasker as well as a great addition to any collection. They can be used to brown food on the stovetop and/or slow-cook food in the oven.
Griddle / Grill Pan
A Griddle is a piece of cookware that has a large, flat or ridged surface. With a fairly small amount of oil it can be used to cook breakfast foods such as pancakes, hash browns, and eggs. It can be square or round, but usually does not have the longer handle of a fry pan.
Woks have high, sloping sides, and are a popular all-purpose Asian pan. They are traditionally 14 inches in diameter and made of carbon steel. These pans have a hot cooking surface on the bottom, while being cooler up the sides. On top of that, being able to move the ingredients around the pan gives one great control and versatility over the temperature. Woks are perfect for stir frying, steaming, and deep frying.
Ready to Round Off Your Collection?
Considering that now you have developed the passion for great food and great cookware, it is time to add some more specialty pieces to your collection. You can create tons of fun dishes and recipes with specialty items such as pressure cookers, roasters, Dutch / French ovens and more.
Pressure Cookers give you the choice of having a quick-release option, taking even less time to finish a meal and without wasting water to cool things down. Their lids completely seal the pot, while the liquid is boiling inside. Steam then builds the pressure, which results in higher cooking temperatures and shorter cooking times. Most Pressure Cookers come in sizes that vary from 3 Quarts to 8.5 Quarts. A Pressure Cooker with a detachable pressure regulator can adjust the pressure to low, medium or high. The higher the pressure, the higher the internal temperature and the less cooking time you will need.
A Roaster is a large rectangular pan with low sides that allows the oven’s heat to reach as much of the food as possible. Roasting pans are often used with a roasting rack, which helps elevate food above the cooking surface.
The Dutch Oven is a larger vessel designed for slow-cooking generous volumes of stews, braised meats or pot roast. Dutch Ovens are usually round and are made out of cast iron. Most Dutch Ovens have a pair of short handles, in order to make lifting safe and easy.
The French Oven is a type of Dutch Oven; the main difference is that they have an interior enamel, which means seasoning is not required. This is why french ovens, are commonly referred to as Enameled Dutch Ovens. French Ovens are perfect for cooking a variety of dishes, including beef, pork, roasts, briskets, and poultry.
Cookware Material Types
Aluminum is probably the most popular material in cookware. It’s an excellent heat conductor and spreads heat evenly throughout the pan.
Carbon steel is used in very expensive cookware as well as some of the least expensive cookware.
Cast iron is very thick and heavy-duty. Even though it takes a little longer to heat up, it retains and distributes heat evenly. If you are into browning, braising, stewing, slow cooking and baking, this would be the best choice for you. Cast iron comes in Bare Iron or with an Enamel-Coating.
Ceramic cookware is a great insulator, so it does not react quickly to heat. It can usually be found in the form of casserole dish or other shapes that are great for cooking slowly at the constant temperature. It’s lighter than cast iron, but it’s also more fragile. There are three categories: Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware.
Using two types of cookware materials together to get all the benefits of both materials develops clad cookware. Most of the time, stainless steel is clad with aluminum.
Copper is the best conductor of heat. It’s the best if you are cooking on top of the stove where you have to control the temperature. Copper, however, can react with foods and can be toxic. Therefore, copper pots and pans are usually lined with another material, which is usually stainless steel.
Stainless steel is a very good all around general-purpose cookware. It’s lightweight, durable and easy to clean. It is, however, poor conductor of heat so usually many stainless steel pieces are made of the copper or aluminum disc in the bottom to help distribute heat more evenly.
Nonstick cookware has a coating inside the pan that makes it difficult for food to stick to it. This makes it very easy to cook healthy, non-fat foods. Because food doesn’t stick, it’s very easy to clean. It can be found in combination with many metals that produce cookware.
There are couple more tips you should know once you decide which cookware set to buy: many cookwares sets may be dishwasher safe, but we would highly recommend washing them by hand because it will add to their longevity. Also, if you want the best cookware set choose heavier pots and pans because they are made of better quality materials and are more secure, however, be sure you are able to lift it off the burner with ease! If it’s too heavy for you it could cause other hazards. Last, but not least, there is no one type of material that is better than the others. They are all equally beneficial depending on your specific cooking needs.