What Are The Top Rated Pots And Pans For 2014
Good quality pots and pans are essential if you want to make it easy to create great tasting food quickly and without a lot of fuss. Of course as with most products today you have to choose between low and high cost and low and high quality. But if you are serious about your cooking yet at the same time on a tight budget, you need to be careful what you buy to ensure you arent wasting money.
For instance non stick cookware is an inexpensive option especially when you are starting out. If you are moving into your first home then often this is what people opt for to get them up and running quickly. Non stick sets are the most popular as they are relatively cheap to purchase and easy to clean up. The downside to that low price though is that non stick cookware just is not as durable as other types of cookware. You will find that although it makes it easy to clean up, its not diswasher safe as the non stick coating will be scratch away by the action of the dishwasher.
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Also over time the non stick coating will wear away anyway, and generally come away and into your food and diet. Not a good thing at all. Most people end up replacing their non stick cookware with something a bit more durable. Stainless steel cookware is what is generally used commercially. This seems strange as stainless steel doesnt conduct heat as well or as evenly as aluminium. But the advantage of stainless steel is that it is so tough and durable that it lasts for years even with heavy use.
These days you will find that most stainless steel pans are a composite of materials to improve the heat conduction properties too. Such as a stainless steel out layer, but then the core of the sides and bottom of the pans are made using copper or aluminium to allow overal much better heat distribution to allow for move even cooking properties.
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Copper is the best conductor of heat so why dont we all use copper pans. Well for 2 reasons. Copper is very expensive to buy, and also it reacts the acid in many foods. This will result in a discoloring of the pans and also a tainting of the flavours of your food. Thats why most people tend to avoid copper pans, and many copper pans use some other material on the inside to avoide the food reacting with the copper.
Anodizing aluminium is a way of creating a special coating or surface on the top of aluminium, that provides the benefits of non stick without a non stick layers. The anodized layer is very tough and hard to scratch so gives the best of both worlds in many cases, so makes a good alternative to a teflon coated aluminium pan, but of course the cost for anodized or hard anodized pans will be more than the price of a straight non stick aluminium pan.
Another material that is great for pots and paninis cast iron. Cast iron has great heat distribution and heat retention properties too. This is why you often see cast iron used for the plates of panini and sandwich makers. The downside to cast iron is that it has to be seasoned to maintain the surface and stop it from rusting. But also cast iron is heavy. A cast iron cooking pot is quite a weighty beast to be moving around.
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Stainless steel cookware has long been very popular as it is very hard wearing and easy to clean. Especially in professional kitchens the more time you can save looking after your cookware the better. The quality of stainless steel cookware is generally determined by how much nickel is in it. The more nickel the better the quality of the stainless steel pots and pans.
So what are the main advantages of stainless steel cookware. Well probably the main one that people go for is durability. There is no non stick coating to worry about scratching and the pans can take a lot of punishment. This is the main reason stainless steel is so popular in professional kitchens. Chefs don’t have time to be careful about their cookware. In the kitchen of a busy restaurant they want to cook quickly and wash up quickly and not have to worry about damaging the pots and pans.
Appearance is another great factor in the popularity of stainless steel in the kitchen. Stainless steel cookware just looks good. Especially in the exterior is polished or coated to give it a shiny or reflective appearance but even without stainless steel has a great metallic look that will really look right at home on your kitchen.
The other main factor that give stainless steel an advantage is the fact that the cookware is very easy to maintain. Beyond normal cleaning with soap water there should be little you need to do to be sure your stainless steel stays looking good. Of course as with all good cookware you should try and clean it as soon as possible after use. This will make sure food doesn’t bake on hard to your pots and pans. Of course stainless steel is so durable it can take a bit of scrubbing if you do male a mistake and overcook in your pans.
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When you look at cookware and durability, the one type of pan that tends to last in families for generations is usually the old cast iron pot. They last so well that they are often handed down through the generations. So what is so good about cast iron that makes it a material that people keep going back to.
The downside to cast iron is twofold. For one cast iron is very heavy. So if you pick up a cast iron pot you will know you have something g heavy and solid. The second downside is that cast iron pans need to be seasoned. Seasoning is basically allowing a layer of fat build up and bake onto the surface of the pan and effectively give it a non stick coating of its own.
Those are the downsides to cast iron but the advantage of cast iron is that it is a great conductor of heat over a long period and also give a very even cooking. For browning meats and for slow and low cooking where u just want to leave your recipe to cook for a very long time this material just can’t be beaten.
Often with cast iron pots the handles are made from the same material. This means there is less chance of them decaying. Stainless steel pans also last a long time but you will often find that the handles on these wear out before the pan itself does. With a cast iron pan with the handles also made out of cast iron this really can’t happen which could partly explain why these pans often stay in use for so long.
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So what types of pots and pans go with what type of stove or cooker. Well for gas it’s simple you can use all types of pans. The one thing to be careful of is that you don’t turn the heat too high when cooking. Apart from wasting you gas and costing you money, a high gas flame could extend the heat up the sides of the pan. This could lead to burning or melting of the pot handles and maybe even buckling the sides of the pan which aren’t designed to take direct heat.
Electric stoves are also simple and can be used with all pans. But electric stoves like many stove types need to contact or be very close to the pan to transfer the heat. This means that old warped pans are likely to suffer from hot spots and cold spots. So do ensure that you have nice flat bottoms on your pans if you are not going to be using gas.
Ceramic stoves have heating elements under a glass surface. The main thing to be aware of again is a nice flat bottom on your pan as they are no good with old or warped pans. Also be careful when handling you pots on these stoves and a put slammed down too firmly or dropped could damage the ceramic or glass surface of your ceramic hob. Halogen stoves give off a lot of heat so for these types of stoves you will need pots with think bottoms that can take the heat without damage.
Induction hobs use induction coils under a glass top to create a magnetic field to generate the heat in the pot itself. This only works with points that are made out of materials that can be magnetised such as cast iron or steel. Aluminium or copper cookware won’t work on induction stoves.
Pots And Pans Buying Guides
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Consumer Reports – Kitchen Cookware Buying Guide
top rated pots and pans 2014