cookware vs cooktops
The first thing to consider is the type of cooktop or range that you will be using. All cookware types can be used on standard gas or electric ranges. However, ranges or cooktops with a glass top need it with a smooth bottom to avoid scratches in the glass. Cast iron sets are not recommended for glass top ranges. Induction cooktops require cook sets made from a magnetic material. It should be noted that due to variations in metal content, not all stainless steel is magnetic. If you need cookware for an induction cooktop, confirm with the manufacturer or on the package that the product is induction ready. Another way to confirm if cookware will function on an induction cooktop is to see if a magnet will firmly attach to the bottom of the pan.
The type of material used to make cookware is also an important consideration. Stainless steel, cast iron, copper, glass, and aluminum are all readily available. Stainless steel cook sets are a durable, easy-care option and are often dishwasher safe. It provides even heating and does not react with foods. Cast iron is excellent at maintaining heat, meaning once the pan is hot, it stays hot. Most new cast iron sets come pre-seasoned and do not require that the cook goes through the seasoning process before the first use. Copper is the best heat conductor. However, unlined copper cookware may react with some acidic foods such as tomato sauce, causing a bitter taste. Stainless steel pans may have copper bottoms, adding the excellent conductivity of copper to the non-reactive properties of stainless steel. Glass sets are attractive and allow you to see what’s cooking, even with the lid in place. It also moves easily from stovetop to oven or microwave or the freezer. Oxidized aluminum cookware is lightweight, conducts heat well, and doesn’t rust. Raw aluminum pots and pans react with ingredients such as tomatoes, greens, and citrus, discoloring the foods. Most aluminum cookware in the market today had been manufactured with an aluminum oxide coating that greatly diminishes these issues.
Another consideration is the weight of the pans. It’s important to think not just of the weight of the pan alone but also much it will weigh when it’s full of food. Cast iron cookware and glass are the heaviest while aluminum is the lightest. Stainless steel and copper are heavier than aluminum but much lighter than cast iron. If possible, it’s a great idea to handle potential new cookware before purchasing to test the weight and feel of the pans.
Take care of your cookware
Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to consider the care required to maintain your new cookware. Stainless steel is relatively easy to clean, in many cases, it is dishwasher safe. Glass and oxidized aluminum are also easy-care, check manufacturers’ instructions for details as some may be dishwasher safe. Cast iron cookware requires more attention. It needs to be cleaned and dried completely to avoid rust. It’s recommended that cast iron cookware be stored with the lid off to allow any remaining moisture to evaporate. Copper requires regular polishing to maintain its beautiful shine and even heat conductivity.
Although the above are some important considerations when purchasing new cookware, these are not the only things to think about. Additional considerations such as cost, appearance, and personal preference will also play a part in the final decision
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