Top Rated Cookware Sets Consumer Reports
So whats makes great cookware? 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
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Other Great Cookware Sites
Consumer Reports – Kitchen Cookware and Cookware Buyers Guide
Good Housekeeping – Cookware Reviews
ceramic cookware reviews consumer reports