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Cookware - Pots and Pans for the Home

Choosing Pots, Pans and Other Cookware

Cookware refers to the pots and pans you use to cook. Quality cookware will last for years, some can last a lifetime. When buying pots and pans buy the best you can afford. Clean and store your pots and pans properly to extend their life. Cookware can be purchased as separate pieces or in sets. If you are just starting out, or need to replace an entire set of cookware it is probably best to purchase a starter set of quality and then supplement with additional pieces as you are able.

How to Buy Pots and Pans

Buy the best cookware you can afford. In general heavy, thick pans will last the longest. The best pots are most likely stainless steel. For improved heat conduction quality stainless steel pots and pans have a metal 3 ply base which may also have copper cladding. This 3 ply base, and the copper, help conductivity and help to distribute heat evenly. This will help avoid hot spots and scorching of food. The 3 ply base is usually aluminum or cooper sandwiched in between stainless steel. Stainless steel pots come with either plastic or metal handles. Metal handles are riveted or soldered onto the pot or pan and the pots can go into the oven. Pots and pans with plastic handles cannot usually be placed in the oven and the handle is usually screwed into the pot. Plastic handles can burn and will often get hot. Of course metal handles will also get hot so it is good practice to always use a pot holder no matter which handle you choose.

 

Copper is an excellent heat conductor but copper pots must have a lining and the preferred material is stainless steel. Cooking with an unlined copper pot or copper pan can cause intestinal problems as copper oxides may form during cooking. Cast iron pots and pans are also available and cast iron frying pans are wonderful for frying. The drawback of cast iron pots is that they are quite heavy and although they hold heat well they are slow to heat. After use cast iron pots and pans must be washed and dried immediately to prevent rusting. Periodically season your cast iron pans and pots according to manufacturer instructions. Aluminum pots are often thin and prone to denting. They will also impart a metallic taste to foods and are not recommended. Teflon and other non-stick cookware are also readily available. When using non stick cookware be sure to avoid scratching by using proper utensils and cleaning properly.

Care for your cookware according to manufactures instructions. Always follow the recommended cleaning techniques. Many times, it is best to wash them by hand and to do so as soon after use as is practical.

The Pots and Pans You Need in a Cookware Set

An assortment of pots and pans are necessary in any kitchen. To begin with you will need at least one large stockpot with lid. A large stockpot typically has 10-12 quart capacity. If you frequently cook sauces, soups or large meats you will probably get use from a second stockpot. Smaller saucepans with lids are also necessary for most kitchens. The most useful of sizes are 1½, 2 and 3 quart capacities. You will also need sauté pans; the most useful size is 7, 8 or 9 inch. If you are buying a set of cookware the lid from a sauce pan will often fit the sauté pan. A 9 or 12 inch frying pan is also very useful. A frying pan and sauté pan are very similar in that both are shallow. The difference is a frying pan, also known as a skillet, has slanted sides and a sauté pan has straight sides. A double boiler is a nice accessory item, often included in a starter set, used for steaming vegetables and other foods.

Our Favorite Cookware Sets

Calphalon 10-pc. Nonstick Contemporary Nonstick Cookware Set
Calphalon 10-pc. Nonstick Contemporary Nonstick Cookware Set
Cuisinart 10-pc. Chef's Classic Stainless Cookware Set
Cuisinart 10-pc. Chef's Classic Stainless Cookware Set
Calphalon 10-pc. Tri-ply Copper Cookware Set
Calphalon 10-pc. Tri-ply Copper Cookware Set