Top Rated Cookware Sets Consumer Reports
So whats makes great cookware the highest rated cookware sets? Well of course the first thing you look for in cookware is that it is actually good for cooking. Thats means that it makes it easy to cook your food evenly without leaving some parts cook and others not. Also once you have cooked you want you cookware to be simple to clean up. And of course it all depends on your budget too.
Much non stick cookware for instance can be had for a low price, and is good to cook with as the food doesnt stick and its easy to clean up afterwards. The down side to non stick cookware is that the non stick coating can be easily damaged if used with the wrong kind of tools. There are more expensive alternatives such as hard anodized cookware that give a stronger coating but similar non stick abilities. Of course if you arent worried about non stick then there is cookware with great cooking abilities such as stainless steel, cast iron or even copper.
Consumer Reports Best Cookware 2014
Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If you are looking for a top quality stainless steel cookware set that offers a good range of pans for your needs but also comes at a great price then the bestselling mcp-12 12 piece stainless steel cookware set from Cuisinart is hard to beat.
This 12 piece set Is great to use and great to look at too. This set comes with 2 saucepans, 2 skillets a sauté pan and a stockpot which should cover most of your needs for pots and pans.
This set features 18/10 stainless steel, and as we know that stainless steel on its own is not a great and even conductor of heat, this set also features a core of aluminium to provide that even cooking that we need to ensure we don’t get hotspots and uneven areas in our pans. The lids on this set are also fully stainless steel and designed to fit well and keep moisture in which helps with the cooking. This also enables the set to be oven save up to 500 degrees f.
The handles on this set are riveted to provide durability. They are also designed to stay cool as long as possible to make them easier to handle and work with while cooking.
What Is Ceramic Cookware
Ceramic Cookware Buyers Guide
Ceramic cookware is simple cookware made from earthenware. It can be purchased glazed which is non porous or unglazed which is a porous material. Some people have avoided ceramic cookware as there have been health concerns about the chemical and metal content in the glaze used on some ceramic cookware. So if you are looking for ceramic cookware it is important to by cookware from named manufacturers that state that their cookware is free from harmful chemicals, just to be sure.
The glaze in ceramic cookware is supposed to seal in any harmful chemicals, but its wise to ensure that you get your ceramic cookware from countries with a good track record on safety such as the USA or those in Europe. Even quality ceramic cookware but with a damaged glaze should be avoided. Even small chips or cracks in the glaze can allow the harmful chemicals to leech into your food.
Even better look for ceramic cookware that uses no harmful chemicals. So with ceramic cookware ensure you buy from quality manufacturers, and dont use damaged ceramic cookware to cook or store your food.
Ceramic cookware does also have its advantage. For one thing the choice of colors and styles make for very attractive cookware that will look good in your kitchen. Some people even use ceramic cookware for display purposes only in their kitchen but dont actually use it for cooking or storing food as it looks so good.
Another plus point for ceramic cookware is a very even heat distribution that is similar to that achieved with cast iron cookware. The downside of cast iron is that it needs to be seasoned on a regular basis, and this is not needed for ceramic cookware. The enamel or glazed coating usual found on ceramic cookware is easy to clean and hard wearing too. Ceramic cookware can also take very high temperatures too, so its very versatile.
Ceramic Coated Cookware
What To Look For When Buying Cookware
With the vast choice of cookware that’s available on the market today you need to at least understand the basics of how cookware works to really get a feel for which type of cookware is going to work best for you and your cooking.
The price of cookware can vary massively. This of course like most thing depends on the materials used to make the cookware. So before you start its always a good idea to know how much you are prepared to spend on your cookware. Also the material used to make the cookware can determine how much maintenance is required.
For instance cast iron requires seasoning to prevent it from rusting and to keep the optimum cooking properties. People tend to love cast iron cookware as it gives such even cooking and is incredibly hard wearing if seasoned as need. The downside is cast iron cookware can be very heavy, so if you want cookware that easy to move around then avoid cast iron. Copper requires a certain amount of polishing as it does tend to oxidise over time. Stainless steel is popular and especially commercial as it doesn’t rust and is so hard wearing and relatively easy to clean.
Most cookware tends to be made from some sort of metal, and different metals conduct heat at different rates. Stainless steel in one of the worst conductors of heat in cookware and copper is one of the best. Naturally you would assume everyone would make copper cookware. But its not as simple as that, as copper tends to require more maintenance as already mentioned above. Also copper is a relatively expensive metals these days.
What most manufacturers so these days when making quality cookware is to use a range of materials to make the most of the best properties and get the most versatile cookware. For instance you may find pans that are constructed from stainless steel for its well known durability, but may have aluminium or copper running through the sides and base to improve the heat conduction properties.
This may also be done by manufacturers to remedy issues such as certain materials that react with food and leech into the food. Stainless steel is relatively inert, but other metals such as copper and aluminium can react with food and start affecting the taste. But by making the parts of the cookware that come into contact with the food from stainless steel manufacturers can design round this issue.
If price is the big factor you will often find that inexpensive cookware is made from a low grade steel or aluminium. Also non stick cookware tends to be some of the least expensive. The good points of aluminium as mentioned above is that it is a very good conduction of heat, so aluminium coated cookware can cook quite well. The downside to aluminium is that it is quite soft so over time aluminium cookware can tend to warp with extended use. Non stick makes the cookware easy to clean, but does require care as sharp cutlery or kitchen implements or abrasive cleaners can easily scratch and damage the non stick coating.
How To Choose Cookware
Choosing The Best Cookware
More Cookware Tips
Best Cookware For Home
Another mistake that’s easy to make is buying cookware that you don’t really need. It can be tempting to buy a large set of cookware that include pans you aren’t likely to need but unless you have a lot of storage space this can be a waste. Its probably better to get a smaller set of cookware with pans that you are likely to use, and then add to that with specific pans that you need as you go.
For instance if you need a large pot, a large stockpot will often do the job as you need. These versatile pots can be used for soups and a lot more besides, in situations when you have something large to cook or have a large volume of liquid. An 8 quart stockpot should be about right for most families needs. Don’t spend lots of money on a stop pot if you are only going to be using it for pasta for sweetcorn, as it really isn’t going to make much difference.
How To Maintain Your Cookware
Once you have spent money on cookware, its also important to maintain it to make sure you get the best use and best life out of it. For instance non stick cookware is probably the cheapest and easiest to use. Burt you have to be so careful with it as its very easy to damage the non stick coating with sharp or abrasive utensils or cleaners.
So use plastic utensils or those made from wood to avoid scratching the no stick coating and that getting into your food. Also don’t put your non stick cookware in the dish washer as this will over time damage the non stick coating. Also avoid burning a pan with non stick coating and do not expose to high heats such as those you would get from a broiler.
Another tip to extend the life of your cookware is to clean it as soon as possible after use. The quicker you do this its more likely that there wont be any damage or staining and you wont have to spend extended periods of time scrubbing to get things clean. Also avoid abrasive cleaners that may actually damage or scratch the surface of your cookware.
Cast iron cookware is very popular for cooking with as its so hardwearing as its heavy and extremely long lasting. But it does need looking after. They cook very evenly as cast iron conducts heat very well and are great for the low and slow cooking at lows temperatures which some dishes call for.
Cast iron takes longer to heat up but also holds the heat longer so provides very even temperatures that dont jump up and down. This also makes cast iron cookware really good for outdoor cooking such as on grills and campfires. If the temperature drops or rises suddenly then the cooking time of your food isnt going to be affected as much if you are cooking in cast iron. But cast iron pans need to be seasoned to stop them from rusting. This isn’t difficult but does need to be done.
Basically seasoning is baking on a layer of oil to the cast iron. This ensures that the metal is coated and then it wont rust or leach a metallic taste into your food. Over time with use, the natural oils from your food will help to season your cast iron pan anyway. Be careful not to be too vigorous when cleaning your cast iron pots and pans as this will reomve some of the seasoning. Just give your cast iron cookware a quick and mild clean to ensure the seaasoning stays intact.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware
Which Type Of Cookware Should you Buy
Stainless Steel, Copper or Aluminium
Which type of cookware you need is probably a personal decision. It really depends on the type of cooking that you do and how often you cook too. If you can afford it then go for the best cookware that you can buy for your budget as this will generally serve you better. Quality cookware is designed to perform well and give even heating and cooking.
Sometimes it can be hard to decide between a cookware set or individual pots and pans. A large cookware sat is value for money only if you are going to use all the pots and pans. If you only use half of them on a regular basis then the rest are just taking up space in your kitchen. If you have a large kitchen that may not be an issue but not all of us have that luxury.
If you want cookware that is going to last a long time then you cant go too far wrong with stainless steel. Its durable and hard wearing and also looks good in your kitchen. Of course the downside is the poor heat conduction properties. But to get round this look for stainless steel cookware that uses cores of metals that conduct heat better such as aluminium or copper in the base and sides of the pans.
Most stainless steel cookware is not just made of stainless steel these days for this reason. They tend to have layers of different materials in the sides or base of both to provide the extra improved levels of conduction. By combining stainless steel with copper or aluminium in this way you can get the best of both materials.
This extra core will improve the conduction of heat in the most needed areas and eliminate those dreaded cool spots that make your cooking heat unevenly and affect the quality of your food. Another advantage of stainless steel is that they are often designed to be oven safe. This makes it easy to finish off meals in the oven if needed or to keep them warm and be sure that your cookware can take it. Always check your manufacturers guidelines to see what temperatures your cookware can take.
Stainless steel cookware is often the cookware of choice for the professional kitchen. Not only because it is very hard wearing and easy to clean as we have mentioned. But also because stainless steel is very inert and doesnt not react to foods. When you are cooking professionally you want to ensure that nothing taints the flavour of your food, or customers are unlikely to return. So with those factors in mind stainless steel is an easy choice to make for a chef choosing cookware for a professional kitchen.
Also be sure the follow the guidelines that come with your cookware to help you get the most out of it and ensure it last as long as possible.
Best Pots And Pans
Which Type Of Cookware Do I Need For My Stove
An important consideration is to ensure that you get the type of cookware that works best on your stove. One of the reasons to invest in new cookware is when you get a new stove. For some surfaces that require contact with the stove to get any or all transfer of heat, you need cookware that sits flush with the stove, so old cookware that may well be warped will struggle to transfer heat across the base of the pans.
Gas is probably the easiest type of stove to buy pots and pans for as the pans don’t need direct contact with the surface of the stove as the gas flames rise up and heat the pans. Be careful to get the right sized pans and also when cooking have the heat at a level where the gas is under the pan rather than coming round the base as you will just be wasting gas and potentially getting the handles really hot and burning them or making them so hot they are dangerous.
Electrical stoves with spiral shaped elements can use most sorts of pans. Just be careful when using older pans that may be warped and not make good contact with the elements as you may find that some parts of your pans getting much hotter than others and potentially burning your food or cooking unevenly. The same goes for hotplates which are often and electrical element with a flat cast iron surface on top.
Cookware Sets or Single Pots and Pans
Are Cookware Sets Better?
Some people love cookware sets and some people hate them. Cookware sets can offer you great value for money as they allow you to get a great range of pots and pans for different purposes at a bargain price. The downside for some is that they can often include pieces that you seldom or never need., and you still may need to get other pans to make up for what you haven’t got. The special lobster pot may end up at the back of the kitchen and never get used.
But buying individual pots and pans can be a very expensive exercise. This can be even more expensive if you are looking to purchase quality cookware made by a quality brand. So although cookware sets are unlikely to ever be perfect for your needs, if you can come close to getting the pans you need, you can still make great savings.
The Best Pots And Pans You Can Buy
Cookware Ratings And Top Rated Cookware
If you love the ease of use and maintenance of non stick cookware but you are worried about the use of PTFE and PFOA in the non stick coatings and that getting into the atmosphere and into your food then there are safer alternatives. Some manufacturers have introduced safe non stick cookware that is PTFE and PFOA free.
The big advantage of non stick cookware is that because the food doesn’t stick you can cook using little or no fat, which also makes the food better for you. There are even non stick sets out there that include cookware that is dishwasher safe and oven safe too. This means you can have the non stick advantages of food not sticking with the ease of maintenance that you normally only expect from stainless steel.
Considering how often we use cookware, its amazing how little thought we often give to it. Even if you don’t have a huge family or cook at home everyday, its worth making sure you have good quality cookware to use that wont be showing its age after a few short months. For ease of use non stick is hard to beat but you do have to be careful with it, as often the coatings that provide the non stick are easily damaged if you use the wrong utensils or cleaning implement.
Cookware can be expensive, and high quality cookware can be very expensive. But there are often alternative to the high price brands that can perform equally as well at a much lower price. If price is an issue of course cookware sets often offer great value for money over individual pots and pans.
To get the best of both buy a smaller cookware set that includes all the pots and pans you should need on a regular basis, and then buy any additional specialist pans individually. This reduces the chance of wasting money by buying a large cookware set that includes pans you will never touch.
Other Great Cookware Sites
Consumer Reports – Kitchen Cookware and Cookware Buyers Guide
Good Housekeeping – Cookware Reviews
ceramic cookware reviews consumer reports