Choosing Cookware

There are lots of choices out there for stocking your kitchen pots and pans arsenal.  I have different types for different special recipes, but most of mine fall into just four groups.  When I was a senior in high school, I was given a set of Corning Ware as a gift for winning a baking contest and I have been a fan since then.  I love Corning Ware__it goes from freezer or refrigerator to the stove top, oven, or microwave to table top.  Most of my fry pans or skillets are cast iron__several from my grandmothers and the rest are old ones collected in our travels around the country.  There is nothing better for crispy fried chicken and fried potatoes!  I have several stainless steel Revere Ware pans__one small skillet with lid which does yummy popcorn from scratch and several pots that I like for soups and stews.  My favorite for candy making is a heavy non stick aluminum saucepan__the peanut brittle just rolls out of the pan onto the cookie sheet for stretching!

Base your choices on the type of cooking you like to do.  Each type of construction material has its own qualities, advantages and disadvantages.  Sometimes it comes down to trial and error, which can be expensive.   But over time, I think you will find the pans that work best for you.

Here are possible choices:

Anodized aluminum is really a good choice for all-around use.  It is hard, durable, conducts heat very well.  With use it will turn a dull grey but can be cleaned and kept shiny by using a steel wool soap pad.  Be sure to rinse well.

Enamel coated aluminumis also a good heat conductor.  It is usually lightweight and comes in a range of colors to match or accent your kitchen decor.  If the aluminum is not anodized underneath, this pan will not be quite as durable because regular aluminum is softer.  Some of these do come non stick coated.

Stainless steelis hard, durable, and nearly indestructible.  The surface is smooth and stain resistant.  Because it is a poor conductor of heat, any stainless steel pan needs a bottom layered or covered with a good heat conductor like copper, aluminum, or sandwiched (encapsulated) steel.  Check the product labels to see what kind you are choosing.

Copperis pretty, a super conductor of heat, but seldom used.  Copper pans need to be plated with tin on the inside for easier cleaning but that eventually wears out. These pots tarnish easily and need regular polishing to look nice.  They can also be expensive. Know more for visit induction cookware reviews .

Enamel-coated is put on aluminum as mentioned previously or on carbon steel.  Enamel is glass fused on the surface of metal, therefore, it must be handled carefully so it will not chip or crack.   On carbon steel, it produces a pan which heats rapidly and to hot temperatures for searing and blackening  meats.  These products tend to be heavy and may have hot spots and not heat evenly.

Cast ironis sturdy and heavy.  its heats well and retains that heat so is great for skillets and Dutch ovens.  It must be well seasoned so food will not stick and the pan will not rust.  I wash mine with very hot water, heat water in it, then clean it carefully, not using dish detergent which destroys the seasoning effects.  Good for top of range or oven cooking.

Pyroceram is a special type of ceramic cookware, like the Corning Ware I use, that easily goes from freezer or refrigerator to stove top, oven or microwave to table top.  Its durable but will break if dropped, easy to clean by hand or in a dishwasher.  I remove spoon marks by rubbing with a baking soda paste.  The glass lids make it easy to keep an eye on my cooking food.

Non Stickis a special coating (like Teflon and other types) that is applied to the pans cooking surface to make cooking easier with or without additional fat.  These pans do cook and wear differently than non coated ones.  Cleanup is much easier.  Most of these surfaces are easily damaged by scratching with metal utensils so use wooden or non-metallic ones.

Lighter weight pans are easier to handle,  often less expensive, and cooking performance will vary depending on type of metal used.  Heavier gauge pans are obviously heavier to lift, generally perform better, and last longer.  Choose your pots and pans based on the type of cooking you want to do, whether it is very hot for searing or stir-fry, or lower heat for slow and gentle for simmering, etc.

There are many types and styles of pots and pans from which to choose.  Give it a go and let your cooking sizzle!

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