Cookware 101 Session 1
What to look for when purchasing cookware
When trying to decide on cookware material think in terms of durability, use, weight, required care as well as price. Do you need cookware that is dishwasher safe? Will you be using your cookware in the oven?
Stainless steel by itself is a poor heat conductor. Look for cookware with an aluminum encapsulated base
as aluminum is a good heat conductor. Cookware with good heat conductivity allows you to better control temperature as it will respond to increases and decreases in heat levels more quickly.
Cast iron conducts heat quite well. It is heavy and durable but can require some maintenance if it is not pre-seasoned. Stainless steel requires little maintenance and offers a contemporary look to any kitchen. Aluminum cookware is efficient; however, anodized aluminum cookware is harder than steel and needs to be hand washed.
Compatibility to various cook tops is another thing to consider when looking for quality cookware. While materials such as stainless steel, cast iron and multiclad are gas and electric stovetop safe, only magnetic materials with no nickel content are induction safe. Be sure to check the box to make sure your cookware is induction safe if you plan to use an induction cook top.
Comfort and balance are important features of any cookware
. You don’t want to struggle with a heavy sauce pot or find yourself dismayed with a flimsy skillet. You need to find a balance between weight and durability. Thickness is a key feature in quality cookware as a thicker piece distributes heat well and usually makes the piece more durable, however durability becomes a negative if the piece is too heavy for you to use.
Handles play a large role in how comfortable and easy to use a cookware piece is, particularly with pans. Some larger sauté pans and skillets have a helper handle on the side, making it easier to lift to the table once you’re ready to serve.
Handle the cookware before making the purchase. Make sure that you can comfortably lift and hold the pieces and that they are not too heavy. Remember you will be putting food in them, so while the skillet my feel like it’s a nice weight in your hands be sure to handle the saucepans and stock pots as well.
Handles are an easy way to identify good cookware. Here are a few things to look for:
- Riveted handles don’t come loose
- Vented tubular handles which tend to remain cool on the stovetop
- Handles that are a nice size and weight to balance the cookware piece
- Materials that do not catch fire, are heat resistant and allow you to put your cookware in the oven
- Handles that are easy to clean, such as stainless steel
Here are some things to avoid:
- Handles attached by screws that are susceptible to coming loose
- Handles made of materials that can chip, crack, blister or catch fire
It is important that lids fit properly on cookware to be able to trap steam and keep food moist. A lid that fits snuggly ensures that nutrients are sealed in and helps to reduce cooking time.
There are many different types of cookware lids, however Cuisinart uses only Stainless steel and glass lids. Stainless steel lids keep their luster and shine longer than aluminum lids, but keep in mind that their quality is determined by their design, thickness and polish. Glass lids offer the ability to look inside the pot without releasing any heat however, no glass lid is break proof.
When investing in something like good quality cookware, you want to ensure that you buy a brand that offers a superior warranty and stands behind their products. If you are purchasing quality cookware, you should be looking for a limited lifetime warranty.
Keep in mind that limited life time warranties do not cover human negligence. Be sure to read the instructions that come with your cookware to ensure that you are performing the necessary maintenance for its best performance. You’ll also find cleaning and storage tips that will help prolong your cookware’s lifespan.