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Non Stick, Stainless Steel, Cast Iron, Anodized Aluminum or Copper Pots and Pans …Which is Best?
Metal stove top pots and pans are available in coated non stick, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, cast iron and copper.
All types excel if used properly and will perform according to the quality and the proper usage and care of the cooking vessel.
There has been great deal of controversy in the last decade when it was deemed that Perfluorooctanoic Acid, a binding chemical in non stick coatings, is carcinogenic. As a result manufacturers now use non petroleum and ceramic based coatings for non stick cookware. But there is still always the nasty problem of the coating flaking off into your food which is annoying enough on its own but flaking also allows the base metal to be exposed. To prevent the coating from detaching from the base always use a lower heat , use non metal utensils such as bamboo and hand wash with warm soapy water.
Today non stick fry pans can be found virtually every kitchen in North America and throughout the world. Used on low heat (up to 450 degree F) you can safely sizzle your bacon and brown that chop.
Durability is the primary benefit to stainless steel cookware. My mother has a set that is 40 years old and she uses them daily.
Choose a pan that is three ply. This means that the middle ply will be a metal with superior conductivity. Or choose a copper bottom style as this will allow an even heat to the base of the pan.
Stainless steel pots and pans require elbow grease on occasion but generally maintain their shine and are easy to look after.
Stainless steel does not react with the food so this metal causes no health concerns.
Cast iron is making a resurgence in cooking circles and becoming popular again.
It is inexpensive, extremely durable and distributes heat adequately.
On the flip side it takes a considerable amount of effort to maintain them and they are considerably heavier than other material. When the pan is new you will have to season it. To do this spread a small amount of vegetable oil all over the surface and place in the oven on a low heat for several hours. This effectively seals the iron and makes a natural non stick coating.
To clean your pan you hand wash with warm soapy water, rinse and use a paper towel to dry thoroughly. Occasionally season it to maintain a barrier from the metal to your food. If you do not, your pan will rust. I guarantee it!
Cast iron is a personal choice; a love it or leave it situation. I gave up on them years ago, but my son-in-law (a professional cook) loves his and won’t let anyone touch it.
Aluminum is used in half the manufacturing of all pots and pans because of its exceptional heat conductivity.
Aluminum is a very soft metal and will react to any food stuff it comes into contact with. To prevent this, the aluminum is anodized. This is a process that forms a barrier of aluminum oxide to the surface, thereby ensuring it will be resistant to dings and dents and etchings to the metal. The majority of aluminum pans will have a non stick coating.
By far the best choice if you can a) can afford it and b) you don’t mind polishing the pan on a regular basis. Copper has hands down the best heat distribution which is why the majority of chefs cook with copper. Well, and they don’t have to clean them! Copper will however, react with acidic foods.
You can go to any department or kitchen store or follow your nose on the world wide web and you will find a staggering number of choices, styles, weights and prices. Armed with the basic choices you can easily find the appropriate utensil for yourself and your family.
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