How To Choose The Best Cookware Set
To pick the best cookware set for your unique home situation can be a daunting process. But it doesn’t have to be a big complicated ordeal. If you know a few of the pros and cons of each type of cookware, you can easily select the best cookware set suitable to your specific needs.
Don’t be fooled by the flashy ads of the latest cookware brands, they will all try to convince you that their product is the best and that you can’t possibly live without it. There are definitely great new cooking innovations out there, but you need to research the brand before you just click on that button for delivery. A good quality cookware set can last for decades.
Criteria for selecting the best cookware set
Before getting into the technical details of each type of cookware, there are a few pointers that you need to keep in mind before buying a new cookware set. These are criteria that apply to all types of cookware.
You remember science class, not all metals conduct heat in the same manner. Some heat up really quickly, while others barely flinch when you torch it with a flame. Copper is one of the best heat conductors, stainless steel is not so great.
Why is this factor important? If the heat is conducted properly, your food will cook evenly, aka you won’t have to scrub a pot because half of your pumpkin got burned to a crisp and the other half was fine. The other good thing of a high heat conductivity level, is that when you turn the heat up or down, your copper pot will respond to the temperature change much quicker than your stainless steel pot.
There is merit in the decision to cough up a few extra dollars to invest in a high quality cookware set. Sure, budget constraints are real, but you don’t want to save a few dollars now and then end up with a shoddy cookware set that will only last you for a year or two. Rather spend a little bit more now and enjoy the great cooking experience that comes with using a high quality cookware set.
This aspect goes hand in hand with the price, the cheaper ones will probably not last very long. Rather try to buy the best cookware set you can afford. Stainless steel is viewed to be one of the most durable types of cookware at a reasonable price.
Some metals tend to react in a certain way with certain foods. For instance, aluminum is not very fond of acidic foods such as tomato. What this means is that some food types can be absorbed by some metals. Your favorite dishes might be a big determining factor for the type of cookware you choose.
The question is, how much elbow grease do you want to put in to keep your carefully selected best cookware set in tip-top shape? Cast iron and copper cookware require a regular polishing session to maintain their pristine look. Stainless steel on the other hand is a little bit less high maintenance.
Pros and cons of cookware materials
You might be tempted to just stick with the type of cookware you are familiar with, maybe the one your granny or mom always use. But bear in mind that cooking methods have evolved over the years, plus you might not be preparing the same dishes your grandma always loved to serve.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless Steel cookware can be found in many households, it is definitely one of the most common types. The material is made up of combining steel, carbon and chromium. The stainless label comes from its ability to withstand corrosion.
When comparing the best cookware set options, it is definitely an excellent cookware choice, but make sure that you look out for pots and pans with a copper or aluminum core for better heat conductivity. This is one of those moments when you don’t want to skimp and buy a cheaper brand, or you will be dealing with an uneven heating surface and lots of scrubbing from hot and cold spots.
• Reasonably priced
• Scratch resistant
• It will remain shiny for longer
• Doesn’t react with any food types
• It won’t warp
• It doesn’t conduct heat very well.
• Slow reaction to temperature changes.
Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron cookware has been around for hundreds of years. Passionate cast iron users will tell you that you can’t go wrong with a high quality cast iron cookware set. The food you can whip up in it tastes amazing! But on the downside, to maintain the immaculate look of your cast iron cookware set is a tedious process. When you are searching for the best cookware set, you might be swayed by the fact that often a cast iron cookware set has travelled from one generation to the next, so it is definitely very durable.
• Reasonably priced
• Exceptionally durable
• Great heat retention
• If your food is not seasoned, the cookware will react to it
• High-maintenance; you need to regularly polish the pots and pans
• It is heavier than the average type of cookware
• If you don’t polish the cookware, it can rust
Aluminum cookware is another option to consider when you are hunting for the best cookware set. It is used in about 50% of all cookware because of its great heat conduction. It is a soft metal, so it can dent and scratch quite easily. Plus, it can react with certain food types, so it is usually inserted between other types of metal. Often stainless steel cookware makes use of the excellent heat conducting ability, so you get the best of both worlds - sturdiness and good conductibility.
Anodization is a process used to place a layer of aluminum oxide on the surface to scratch-proof it and to make sure that food doesn’t react with it. Aluminum Cookware often has a nonstick coating to make sure that food doesn’t burn because of the high heat conduction.
• Great heat conducting ability
• Quick response to temperature changes
• It reacts to acidic foods
• Dents and scratches very easily
Copper cookware is very popular with professional chefs because of its great heat conducting ability. If you are willing to invest in the best cookware set, you can consider copper but in general it is quite pricey. Some stainless steel cookware sets use copper in its layers.
It is no wonder chefs are so fond of using copper cookware, its excellent heat conduction means that the pots and pans heat up quickly and temperature adjustments can be made quickly, offering you greater control over the cooking process.
• Great heat conduction
• Good investment if passionate about cooking
• Fairly expensive
• Can react with acidic foods
• Needs regular polishing
Which type of cookware is best?
The cliché answer is that it depends on what you want to cook and how you want to cook. You might have guessed it by now, stainless steel cookware is the winner when it comes to all-round usability, flexibility and affordability. Its only big drawback is that it doesn’t conduct heat very well.
So whether you buy high quality pots and pans will depend largely on the brand you select. Stainless steel cookware with a copper base is usually pricier than the aluminum base option, but the big advantage of more even heat conduction might be worth the investment.
Wrapping things up: How to choose the best cookware set
Now that you have a better idea of what types of cookware you can choose from, there’s another little basic thing to keep in mind – your personal cooking style. If you are passionate about cooking and love using state of the art cooking equipment, then you can consider saving up for that fancy 20-piece cookware set. But if you like keeping things simple, sticking with traditional dishes, you don’t have to splurge on the best cookware set money can buy. You only need the basics to enhance your cooking experience.
To start your cookware collection off, buy the following: a two-quart saucepan, an eight-quart stockpot and a 10-inch sauté pan.
A Saucepan is great for making all kinds of sauces as well as starches such as rice or for reheating food. The Stockpot will be used when you’re making big meals, such as a sturdy stew for the whole family. You can also use it to make pasta, with the water heating up nicely in the big pot. And finally, the Sauté Pan. It’s perfect for sautéing and searing vegetables and meats. Plus you can make a delicious omelet or other egg dish for breakfast. In fact, you can actually prepare a whole meal by just using the sauté pan!
Building up your cookware collection one item at a time is fine if your budget is tight, but a once-off investment in a complete cookware set might work out cheaper in the long run.