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Different Types of Cookware
& How To Choose the Best for You

cookware

Whether you’re getting ready to go off to college for the first time, moving into your first apartment, closing on your first house, or just updating your kitchen and everything in it - you’re in a position to purchase some new cookware. However, it doesn’t take long to realize how much variance there truly is in the cookware marketplace. There are a seemingly endless variety of materials, brands, and sizes that one must navigate. Having a starting place in mind, or even an end-goal, is a helpful way to eliminate some of the noise in making these decisions.

However, understanding the basic differences between the various materials that brands use in the creation and manufacturing of their cookware will help guide and inform you in picking the best pot set for your individual kitchen and cooking needs.

Classic Cast-Iron

Although cast-iron skillets may seem rather outdated, they still serve their fair share of purposes in the kitchen and cooking realms. First and foremost, cast iron skillets are extremely versatile in their cooking functionality. Being compatible with stovetops, the oven, the grill, and even direct flame, cast iron will take any heat you throw at it. Which, unsurprisingly, is another selling point for cast-iron cookware. The heat-durability and retention are nearly unmatched by other cookware choices. Not only can cast-iron skillets withstand an incredible amount of heat, but they also retain that temperature for an incredible length of time. This makes them excellent for a simple deep-dish pizza, roasted recipes, and other cooking techniques as well.

Additionally, cast-iron skillets and other cast-iron cookware are great for camping trips as they are direct-flame-compatible.

The major downfall to cast iron cookware is the maintenance and care required. Cast iron must be ‘seasoned’ before every use, which is the process of repeatedly heating and cooling oil on the cast-iron cooking surface in order to create a slick and non-stick cooking surface that also acts as a barrier between the metal itself and the food it cooks.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a wildly popular option and for good reason. It is one of the easiest materials to care for, and while it is mostly suggested that users hand-wash stainless steel cookware to extend the lifespan, some stainless steel products are even dishwasher safe.

Stainless steel cookware also offers versatility, though in a slightly different light. Stainless steel cookware comes in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and designs. This makes stainless steel cookware sets extremely popular among at-home chefs as they cover the wide majority of needs that a home-kitchen has. Additionally, there is a wide spectrum of tiers in which stainless steel cookware falls. In other words, there are higher tiered, more expensive options of stainless steel, and more affordable hobby-chef options as well. One of the main influences in the price-point of stainless steel cookware is the underlying core metal.

Stainless steel by itself is an ineffective heat conductor. As such, stainless steel cookware is manufactured with a core metal that is responsible for heat conduction, retention, and distribution. Typically, this is either aluminum or copper.

Aluminum is slightly more affordable and a relatively effective heat conductor, while copper is a more effective conductor but is also more expensive.

However, one final thing to note when it comes to stainless steel cookware is that the maintenance remains nearly identical despite the core metal utilized.

Not-So-Cool Copper

While copper is sometimes used as the core heat conductor in a stainless steel product, there are also sets of copper-cookware. Due to copper's highly conductive nature, copper cookware is significantly more sensitive to temperature changes than alternatives. This can be a preference amongst serious chefs as it offers the cook more control over the cooking and heating process, and also offers a more consistently even heating experience.

A few of the downsides to copper cookware is the price point, the maintenance required to maintain the shine of the copper, and most importantly - the heat durability. Because copper is such an effective conductor, most guidelines around cooking with copper cookware suggest going no hotter than medium-low heat.

Mixed-Material-Cookware

In the modern cookware marketplace, there are innovations being made each and every year. One such innovation comes from the mixing of various materials all into a single piece of cookware.

This is a design that makes use of both stainless steel and non-stick technology. By combining these technologies into a single design, the resulting pots and pans offer great heat-durability up to 500 degrees in the oven, an incredible amount of versatility when it comes to cooking techniques, and are both metal-utensil and dishwasher safe. This type of material-blending could very well be the future of cookware in general.

Knowing the main differences between various cookware materials will help you pick the perfect fit for you and your kitchen.


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