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Cookware and Cookware Trends – Updated November 2013

Cookware and cookware trends need to be reviewed annually. What cookware product lines that have been dropped is as important as what is added. Cookware and kitchen trends are always fun to watch. While some new fangled devices make a big hit, others fall into obscurity. It’s interesting to see new advances in cookware trends in terms of colors, usability features, handle designs, and cladding of materials. In this article, I take a look at cookware trends I see and review popular cookware brands.

Staub Cast Iron Cookware

Cookware and Cookware Trends

There are 4 trends I see happening in the cookware marketplace:

  1. Cookware manufacturer websites are transforming in a bad way. It is getting harder to navigate and find detailed information. They tend to push selected products and sell direct from their own websites where the store is the only place to get information. What is the purpose of MSRP when they discount on their own sites? They are moving away from spelling out clearly why each product line exists or what differentiates one from another. Cuisinart does one of the best jobs with their cookware products page offering a helpful cookware comparison.
  2. Many cookware manufacturers are expanding into other kitchen products, namely kitchen electronics and cutlery. Slow cookers, sandwich presses, immersion blenders, toasters, and indoor grills are popular.
  3. Color choices are increasing. Gone are the days when a kitchen had to choose between black, silver, or red. When the enamel cast iron colors exploded on the scene, kitchens around the world lit up in color. Rachael Ray rocked the industry with her signature orange and unique cookware shapes. Today various colors are coming out for the entire cookware line. Anolon, Circulon, and Farberware, of Meyer Manufacturing, offer grey, bronze, red, titanium, orange, and chocolate colors.
  4. Mutli-function devices are making new inroads into the kitchen. Just like the convection microwave, today we can see coffee-maker, toaster, and griddle all-in-one units. Waring has a rotisserie turkey deep fryer and steamer. Single and multi-purpose devices and gadgets are swamping the market. Kitchen stores see mango pitters, strawberry cutters, corn huskers, corn holders, corn butterers, etc. fill walls of kitchen gadgets sure to fill countless kitchen drawers.

What’s New and Available in Cookware Brands

While many brands are reducing their product offerings, a few are expanding. Here’s a round-up of popular brands with what’s in and what’s out.

All-Clad

Five Current Product Lines:

  1. D5 Brushed Stainless Steel
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Copper Core
  4. MC2
  5. Hard Anodized

Cop-r-Chef has been discontinued, which had a copper exterior and stainless steel interior. Products are still available at Amazon.com and other stores.

All-Clad LTD2 no longer an active product line. The dishwasher safe hard anodized aluminum exterior with stainless steel interiors has been discontinued. Items are still available  at Amazon.com and other stores.

D5 Brushed Stainless Steel – gaining in prominence. The 5 layer cookware incorporates advanced usability features already found in competitors like Cuisinart. Shiny induction ready stainless steel exterior and the new starburst brushed stainless steel interior (designed for less stick performance) is a solid addition to the product line.

Anolon

Six current product lines:

  1. Advanced
  2. Advanced Bronze
  3. Chef Clad
  4. Nouvelle Copper
  5. Nouvelle Copper Stainless
  6. Ultra Clad

Chef Clad  – dishwasher safe brushed aluminum exterior, aluminum clad and polished stainless steel interior. The aluminum base is encapsulated with magnetic stainless steel for induction ready cooking.  Oven safe to 500 degrees.

Ultra Clad – Dishwasher safe fully clad aluminum interior with stainless steel inside and out. Attractive black nonstick band on the outside. Induction ready and oven safe to 400 degrees.

Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel – Stainless steel inside and out. Fully encapsulated base has aluminum and copper. Dishwasher safe.

Calphalon

Twelve Primary Product Lines:

  1. AccuCore Stainless Steel – NEW!
  2. Commercial Hard Anodized – NEW!
  3. Contemporary Nonstick
  4. Contemporary Nonstick Bronze – NEW!
  5. Contemporary Stainless Steel
  6. Simply Easy System Nonstick – NEW!
  7. Simply Enamel
  8. Simply Enamel Cast Iron
  9. Simply Nonstick
  10. Simply Stainless Steel
  11. Tri-ply Stainless Steel
  12. Unison Nonstick

Calphalon, owned by Newell Rubbermaid, is trying to look like Anolon, owned by World Kitchens. Their website colors and addition of bronze cookware is eerily similar. They used to have a lot of product lines, cut back on them, and now once again have many lines to offer. The problem with such variety leaves one wondering if they can really be so good with so many?

Circulon

Nine Current Product Lines:

  1. Classic
  2. Contempo
  3. Contempo Red
  4. Contempo Stainless Steel
  5. Elite
  6. Elite Platinum
  7. Infinite
  8. Symmetry
  9. Symmetry Chocolate

Symmetry is a new dishwasher safe line. It is tulip shaped like the Anolon Nouvelle. Glass lids. DuPont Autograph 3 layer nonstick surfaces inside and out with the TOTAL food release system inside. Impact bonded stainless steel base makes it suitable on all cooking surfaces.  Hard anodized aluminum core.

Contempo Red is a new dishwasher safe product line featuring pour spouts and a modern look.  DuPont Autograph 3 layer nonstick surfaces inside and out.  Red exterior and large silicone handles.  Like Anolon, Circulon is part of the Meyer Manufacturing family, having many features shared between brands.

Contempo Stainless Steel is exactly like the Contempo and Contempo Red but with a shiny stainless steel exterior.

CorningWare

CorningWare has dramatically reduced their product lines to just 3:

  1. Etch
  2. Simply Lite
  3. French White

Etch is stoneware with artisan details. One year warranty.

French White is also stoneware in a basic fluted white color and timeless design. One year warranty.

Simply Lite is a glass material half the weight of traditional ceramic bakeware. Three year warranty.

Cuisinart

Cuisinart has 13 product lines:

  1. Chef Classic Stainless Steel Color
  2. French Classic Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
  3. MultiClad Unlimited Professional Clad
  4. MultiClad Pro
  5. Dishwasher Safe Anodized Aluminum
  6. GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
  7. GreenGourmet Hard Anodized Aluminum
  8. Chef Classic Stainless Steel
  9. Chef Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Aluminum
  10. Chef Classic Nonstick Stainless Steel
  11. Contour Stainless Steel
  12. Contour Hard Anodized Aluminum
  13. Advantage Nonstick
  14. Chef Classic Enameled Cast Iron

While many cookware manufacturers have been decreasing their active product lines, Cuisinart has been expanding.

Here’s a look at the newer lines:

French Stainless Steel – made in France and fully clad tri-ply construction of a pure aluminum core and stainless steel outsides.  (Fully clad means the aluminum core is not just on the bottom, but fully clad up the side walls.)

Contour – Very similar to the Chef Classic line, except a curvier shape, and glass lids vs stainless steel lids. Both are budget oriented with clad only on the bottom.

Advantage Nonstick is very budget oriented designed to be starter cookware sets. It has many advanced features, but priced this inexpensively, they skimped somewhere. Reviews are very mixed. May be fine as a starter set, but don’t think it can handle aggressive cooking.

Cast Iron – With Lodge, Staub, and Le Creuset out there, I question why Cuisinart would offer a cast iron product. However, reviewers love the product!  They say it is dishwasher safe, and while it may be, I’d be careful washing this in the dishwasher. Should the porcelain ever get chipped or cracked, dishwasher use will accelerate the problem.

Demeyere

Demeyere is a very high-end Belgian cookware line. One new product line has been added, the Industry. It has an American style with European know-how. Availability is very limited for all Demeyere products. Since being bought out by Zwilling, of Henckel fame, I hope the availability of Demeyere cookware will improve.

Emerilware

Emeril now has 6 product lines:

  1. Pro-Clad
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Hard Anodized Aluminum
  4. Hard Enamel Aluminum
  5. Enamel Cast Iron
  6. Pre Seasoned Cast Iron

Emerilware is still supported by All-Clad. While All-Clad is made in America, Emerilware is made in China to offer a price advantage. Emerilware also offers some design features he had built in, not found anywhere else.

I still like the Pro-Clad, Stainless Steel, and Hard Anodized Aluminum product lines.

Emile Henry

Emile Henry is an innovative French manufacturer of cookware, bakeware, and kitchen items. Like CorningWare used to be, Emile Henry designed the Flame Top cookware product line that is a clay material suitable for both stove top and inside the stove use.

Emile Henry quality is extraordinary. They make:

  1. Natural Chic Colors
  2. Urban Colors
  3. Classic Colors
  4. Flame Ceramic Cookware
  5. Flame Barbeque Cookware

The items come in these types of cookware:

  1. Braisers
  2. Dutch Ovens
  3. Baking Stones
  4. Grilling Cookware
  5. Pizza Stones
  6. Risotto Pots
  7. Roasters
  8. Tagines
  9. Woks

Considered healthy cookware, Emile Henry products make great gifts for all levels of cooks.

Farberware

Farberware is also part of the Meyer family, along with Anolon, Circulon, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Silverstone, and KitcheAid. Farberware has 10 active product lines, all priced very inexpensively:

  1. Affiniti Porcelain
  2. Classic Aluminum
  3. Classic Stainless Steel
  4. Millennium Aluminum
  5. Millennium Stainless Steel
  6. Porcelain
  7. Premium Nonstick
  8. Superior
  9. High Performance Nonstick
  10. Dishwasher Safe Nonstick

One of the distinctive features of Farberware is that most of their products, except for the Millennium Stainless Steel, are only oven safe to 350 degrees.

Most Farberware Cookware sets are street priced under $100.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid, part of the Meyer family, is well known for their mixers and food processors. In terms of cookware, KitchenAid offers 6 product lines:

  1. Hard Anodized Aluminum Nonstick
  2. Porcelain Nonstick
  3. Gourmet Distinctions
  4. Gourmet Stainless Steel
  5. Gourmet Porcelain
  6. Gourmet Hard Anodized

All of their product lines were recently revamped. Sometimes it is not easy to find KitchenAid cookware, and their website doesn’t even link to them anymore. One has to really search to find them.

Prices for KitchenAid sets run up into the $200’s.

Le Creuset

Known as one of the best makers of enameled cast iron cookware, Le Creuset has 4 product lines:

  1. Enameled Cast Iron
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Enamel on Steel
  4. Stoneware

They also offer dishwasher safe nonstick skillets in hard anodized aluminum and stainless steel that are hot forged, assured to never chip or flake.  Reviewers LOVE this line of cookware claiming it is the best nonstick cookware available. A newer product line is the Heritage Cookware Collection which brings back some earlier designs with current manufacturing processes.

Lodge

Lodge is largely an American cast iron cookware manufacturer. While they make the preseasoned products in America, the enameled cookware is made overseas. Lodge has 4 product lines:

  1. Seasoned Cast Iron
  2. Enamel Cast Iron
  3. Seasoned Steel
  4. Stainless Steel

Known for their lower priced pre-seasoned cast iron and enameled cast iron cookware, Lodge has expanded with serving wares to help the home cook offer the same sizzle as restaurants.

Very new is their seasoned steel, whether at home or on the campsite, and the Elements set of stainless steel and cast iron.

I have several pieces from Lodge and they are made very well and perform well.

Lodge is going through an identity crisis. They keep re-categorizing their product lines, grouping and regrouping products in different named categories. I wish they would stop.

Their enamel cookware is made in China under strict supervision, and produces products very near Le Creuset and Staub quality, but priced significantly less.

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray cookware is part of the Meyer family. She has 3 current product lines:

  1. Hard Anodized Aluminum
  2. Porcelain Enamel
  3. Stainless Steel

Now in their 2nd generation of products, the stainless steel and hard anodized aluminum cookware offers updated features and performance.

The porcelain enamel line is NOT recommended for glass/ceramic stovetops and is not dishwasher safe.

Rachael Ray cookware is famous for the color schemes and cook-friendly shapes.

The hard anodized aluminum cookware is dishwasher safe, even those with nonstick interiors.

Scanpan

Scanpan is made in Denmark and famous for their PFOA-free GreenTek surface. Considered healthy, the interior surface is not a coating, but rather integrated into the cookware itself. All products are dishwasher safe. Scanpan has expanded recently with 8 product lines:

  1. Classic
  2. CSX
  3. CTX
  4. Fusion 5
  5. Impact
  6. IQ
  7. Professional
  8. Maitre D’

The CTX has a stainless steel exterior and modern look while the Classic and Professional have pressure cast aluminum exteriors. The professional and CTX lines have stainless steel handles where the classic has phenolic resin.

With very flat surfaces Scanpan is great for flat top stoves. The CTX line is induction ready.

I’ve used a Scanpan Classic frypan for 5 years now and washed it in the dishweasher. It has maintained a pretty good nonstick surface, even when used with medium high heat. It shows no sign of peeling or flaking. 

The Impact and IQ lines are truly unique with the IQ line having a silicone edge and a steam valve.

Staub

Staub is a French cast iron cookware maker known for innovation and excellent design.  Like Le Creuset the colors are beautiful. Staub is well known for their innovative technology that helps the cooking process. Staub makes a wide range of products including:

  1. Cocottes (Dutch Ovens)
  2. Grill Pans and Fry Pans
  3. Mini Cocottes
  4. Presentation Cast Iron Dishes
  5. Fondue Pots
  6. Saute Pans

New for Staub are more bright and vivid colors they call Vitamins, pure white colored items, teapots, and the saute pans.

 

How to Choose a Kitchen Cookware Set

A kitchen cookware set often costs less than individual pieces and adds uniformity to a kitchen. Choosing the “right” kitchen cookware set is easy once you answer a few basic questions. When it comes down to it, the cookware material and pot/pan sizes are still the core components whether you are buying individual pieces or a cookware set.

Questions on Choosing a Kitchen Cookware Set

Which Kitchen Cookware Material is Best for Me?

Your Cookware Helper and this site put an emphasis on cookware materials. After all, the right cookware material will provide the right results when cooking and during clean up. There is no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on what suits your cooking time and style. In my article “Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook,” I define the 4 different types of cooks, and which materials are best for each. Making a mistake here can be costly in both cooking results, and the longevity of the kitchen cookware set chosen.

What Sizes of Kitchen Cookware do I Require?

Anolon Nouvelle Cookware SetThe June 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated has a good article on choosing the right kitchen cookware set. They put a focus on the sizes of cookware offered in various cookware sets. They find that many cookware sets offered by the manufacturers have individual pieces, like the fry pans, sauté pans, and sauce pans, that are simply too small. When it comes to kitchen cookware sets, size matters! If you are a one or two person household, most of the sets offered today will be fine since they tend to offer 1 to 3 quart sauce and sauté pans, and 8” to 10” skillets. If you are looking for a cookware set for a larger family, your choices become more difficult and prepackaged sets will not suffice.

How Many Pieces do I Need in a Kitchen Cookware Set?

Be aware that when it comes to the number of pieces in a cookware set, the lids count as a piece! So, a sauce pan and lid counts as 2 pieces, not 1. One would think a sauté pan would count as 1 piece with the lid. But it doesn’t. A 10 piece kitchen cookware set with a fry pan or 2, may include a couple sauce pans, sauté pan, and a stock pot. To answer how many pieces you need, you’ll need to consider how many you are cooking for, and how do you cook? If you tend to cook a lot at the same time, you will need more pieces. The standard pieces that come in a cookware set are the skillet, sauce pan, saute pan, and stock pot. These will come in varied sizes with or without lids.

Should I Buy Individual Cookware Pieces or a Kitchen Cookware Set?

Le Creuset Cast Iron SkilletThe best answer I can give is: It depends. But this one you need to answer for yourself. If you have determined the best cookware material for you, the best brand and product line for you, and find a kitchen cookware set with cookware pieces in the sizes you require, then a set will offer the best price and offer uniformity in your kitchen. On the other hand, if you like different cookware materials and the sizes you require are not offered in cookware sets, then you don’t have much choice other than purchasing individual cookware pieces. It would be a mistake to buy a cookware set with the wrong individual piece sizes for your cooking needs simply because it would be convenient or to save a few bucks.

Final Thoughts…

Many cookware marketers like to pitch cookware sets. There is more money to be made in cookware sets. I would love to refer you to Amazon.com, my favorite online store, to buy a cookware set. But I am in this for the long haul, and want you to make the right decision. You need to honestly answer the 4 questions above. Once you do, then you’ll know if a cookware set is best for you.

If you have decided to buy a cookware set, then you probably want to see which cookware sets I have awarded as best in terms of Premium Quality, and Value. Click here for the award winners: Award Winning Cookware Sets.

 

Can the Right Cookware Make You a Better Cook?

We need cookware to cook our food. Your Cookware Helper says the right cookware can actually help you cook better! Here are 4 reasons why cookware matters. Cookware plays an important role in the art and science of cooking.

How Cookware Can Make Us a Better Cook

There are 4 primary reasons why the right cookware can help us to cook better.

  1. The right cookware will heat evenly. 

    All-Clad Stainless Steel D5 Cookware SetOne of the most important attributes of quality cookware is that it heats evenly. Consider all the cookware that is clad with copper and/or aluminum, for the sole purpose of helping the cookware provide even heating. When you use the properly sized cookware for the stove heating element, you expect the pan to provide an even amount of heat throughout the cooking surface. If it does not, the food will need more attention for flipping or stirring, cause food to stick, and possibly even provide food that is not cooked thoroughly.

  2. The right cookware is appropriate for the job. 

    Here is where a little experience goes a long way. Obviously one will use a skillet to fry eggs or chicken, a sauce pan to boil water or heat liquids, and a sauté pan to cook up a bunch of veggies or meats. The appropriately sized cookware for the job is important. When you have multiple choices of cookware to use, choosing the right one can make the cooking process easier, or add a really nice touch to the meal.

    Consider these real life cooking stories. I have an All-Clad stainless steel sauce pan that is clad with aluminum all the way up the sides. I recently used it when I was cooking grits with mushrooms as a side dish for swordfish steaks. During the cooking process, the heat was set to low, and the grits were slowly bubbling in the All-Clad sauce pan. The aluminum up the sides allows the pan to provide an even heat that wraps around the food, not just on the bottom. It was the appropriate cookware for this thicker side dish. Had I used a simpler Farberware sauce pan with aluminum clad just on the bottom, I would have to stir more frequently, and possibly risk having it burn on the bottom. For thinner liquid based dishes, the Farberware would be suitable.

    Staub Grill Pan WideHaving sear marks on certain foods adds that restaurant quality touch to dishes. When making an Orange Chicken dish recently, I slowly baked the chicken in the oven. However, before serving it, I used my Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan to put sear marks on the chicken before I placed it on the serving dish, where I then drizzled the orange sauce over the top. The presentation was a success.

    Here is another tip to help with a restaurant quality presentation. Consider using Staub Cast Iron Roasting Dishes, preheated in the oven, and place your chicken, steak, or vegetables on the Staub Roasting Dishes to give that sizzling effect, and final cooking, as you bring your dish to the table.

  3. The right cookware is comfortable to use. 

    Comfort is an important variable when selecting cookware. Is the cookware too light or too heavy? Are the handles properly sized for your hands? If it is a heavy piece, does it have a helper handle to allow both hands to pick it up? As a tennis player, I know that a grip that is too small can cause elbow strain. Cookware with handles that are too small can also cause arm strain. Do the handles heat up too quickly? Many pieces today like the KitchenAid Brushed Stainless Steel cookware have handles with silicone inserts for soft, cool handling. Determine what makes cookware comfortable for you. With comfortable cookware, you will use it more, and enjoy handling it. If it is not comfortable, you may not handle it as necessary to get the proper results.

  4. The right cookware gives you confidence in our cooking abilities.

    Consider the folks you find to be good cooks. Do you think they are confident in their abilities? Such confidence starts with the cookware. If you use cookware that heats evenly, the appropriate cookware for the job, and comfortable to use, don’t you think that would add to your own confidence? Of course it would. Confident cooks are not worried about the outcome. They try new things. They are creative. Their cookware is something they don’t have to be concerned with. They know it will perform satisfactorily. It is the right tool for the job just a a plumber or carpenter uses the right tool.

Cookware comes in all shapes and sizes. Using the “right” pieces will help you in your cooking abilities, and build your confidence. Anyone can be a good cook. Cookware is an important part of the cooking process. 

If you want help learning how to cook, I recommend my very own Home Cooking Academy. It offers structured online cooking classes that teach busy home cooks how to consistently make attractive, aromatic, and delicious meals.

Happy cooking!

 

Learn How to Avoid Food Sticking to Stainless Steel Cookware

Food sticking to stainless steel cookware is a real nuisance. Learn these tips on how to avoid the sticking and love your stainless steel cookware. Stainless Steel Cookware is healthy, safe, hygienic, and attractive. Many cooks have difficulty with stainless steel cookware because of food sticking to the cookware surface. Cooking in stainless steel cookware does not have to be difficult. In this article, I will cover the major reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware, and how to avoid it.

Why Food Sticks to Cookware

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Cookware SetIn my article “Why Food Stick to Cookware,” I covered the 4 major culprits. Here, I will discuss the primary reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware. The answer is: heat. Too much of it.

Stainless steel by itself is not a good conductor of heat. An all stainless steel fry pan will have hotspots where some parts of the pan will get hotter than other parts, causing uneven heating, and making it much more difficult for the cook. The cook has to toss, turn, flip, and move the food often to allow a more even heating. The constant attention can often lead to undesirable results.

Consequently, quality cookware manufacturers (see below) layer, or clad, their stainless steel cookware with aluminum and/or copper to provide a superior and even heat distribution throughout the cooking surface. A result of such aluminum and/or copper cladding is that the pan or skillet heats up and retains heat quicker and longer.

When stainless steel cookware is clad with aluminum and/or copper, the pan or skillet will get hotter at any given heat setting compared to cookware not clad with aluminum and/or copper.

Understand that even when you learn how to avoid food sticking to stainless steel cookware, it is NOT nonstick. Some foods will almost always stick to stainless steel cookware. Make a cheese omelette and cleanup will be difficult. Stainless Steel cookware is excellent when you want a fond for sauces, but not great for some delicate foods. In these cases, a good nonstick skillet will come in very handy.

How to Avoid Food Sticking

The use of proper heat settings is crucial. Here is how I use my stainless steel cookware effectively:

1. Set your stove burner on medium – 50%. Place the pan or skillet on the burner and preheat at this level for about 3-5 minutes. Pre-heating is essential! Pre-heating actually helps the stainless steel close the surface pores giving the food less area to stick. 

2. Add your butter, oil, or liquid to the pan or skillet. Let the liquid heat for 3-5 minutes until it is just about ready to smoke.

3. Reduce the heat setting to medium low – 30%.

4. Add your food.

5. Certain foods may start to sear, even at this heat level. Don’t worry as the food will release from the pan or skillet.

6. Finish cooking at this heat level.

7. After you enjoy your meal, clean the pan or skillet thoroughly, removing all oils or grease. Residual oil or grease will cause sticking also.

Enjoying Your Stainless Steel Cookware

When using the proper heat settings, food sticking to stainless steel cookware will not be a problem. Naturally, there are times when you do want food to stick for browning or searing. The proper heat setting gives you control over when food is to stick, or not stick.

Read more about stainless steel cookware.

Some quality manufacturers to check out include: All-CladCalphalonCuisinart, and Demeyere.

 

Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook

Cookware Materials like Cast Iron in the Lodge Color Dutch OvenA great tip before buying any cookware is to match the cookware materials to the type of cook the person is. Your Cookware Helper makes it easy by identifying four (4) types of cooks, and the cookware most suitable for them. While one type may fit perfectly, it is very likely a persons lifestyle, style of cooking, and time allotted for cooking can span more than one type. Think about the person you are buying cookware for, and I’m sure you can identify the characteristics described.

Matching Cookware Materials to the 4 Types of Cooks 

#1: Matching Cookware Materials for “The Reluctant Cook”

 This person cooks out of necessity, does not necessarily enjoy cooking, and wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. This person wants to throw some food on/in the stove, cook it up, throw the dishes in the dishwasher, and get on to more important things. Time is a key factor here. Having to hand wash a skillet would be out of the question.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Reluctant Cook” include:

  • Dishwasher safe Nonstick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Some of the newer dishwasher safe Anodized Aluminum
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware

#2 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Busy Cook”

 This person will likely have the most pieces of cookware in their kitchen. They are transitional. During the week they need to cook rather fast to get the food prepared, on the table, eaten, kids to bed, walk the dog, pay the bills, get a few hours of sleep, and start it all over again tomorrow. But on weekends, they may enjoy a break from the fast pace and spend a little more time preparing something fancier. As they may not spend the money on themselves for a fine piece of cookware, they are very appreciative of the gift for these weekend adventures.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Busy Cook” include:

  • Everything!
  • Dishwasher safe Nonstick for the busy weekdays
  • Stainless Steel because it is dishwasher safe
  • Copper and/or Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel for the finer cooking
  • Cast Iron – plain or enameled
  • Anodized Aluminum because it is durable
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware because it is easy to see and judge when the food is cooked

#3 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Chef”

This person is sensory. This person gets a lot of satisfaction seeing, smelling, and tasting the treats being prepared. They need a light color on the inside of the cookware so the contents can be clearly seen as they saute, brown, and caramelize. While clean up may not be a joy, they do not mind the delicate hand washing. They almost see it as a challenge to cook the food at the right temperature and duration so it doesn’t stick. Having the cookware do what it is supposed to do is paramount. Quality is vital.

Suitable cookware materials for  “The Chef” include:

  • Copper
  • Copper and/or Aluminum Fully Clad Stainless Steel
  • A quality Nonstick skillet for delicate foods like fish and eggs
  • Cast Iron
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware

#4 Matching Cookware Materials for “The Healthy Cook”

 This person, whether by necessity or choice, is vitally aware of the health aspects of food. This person uses intuition and research on choosing cookware materials and may not always trust what the manufacturer, industry, or government says is safe. This person is likely to buy organic foods and eat healthy. They may or may not enjoy the process of cooking. To this person, cooking is a means to an end. It is important to this person that their cookware not leave trace amounts of coatings, surfaces, or dangerous metals in their food. Traditional “Teflon” nonstick is definitely off the list.

Suitable cookware materials for “The Healthy Cook” include:

  • Plain Cast Iron – as long as they do not have too much iron in their bloodstream already
  • Enameled Cast Iron – as long as it is quality and the enamel does not chip
  • Glass / Ceramic / Stoneware
  • Stainless Steel that does not have nonstick interiors
  • Eco-friendly nonstick

Check out our section on Cookware Materials, where we have all the info needed to select the best cookware material for you.

Enjoy!

 

9 Tips Before You Buy Cookware

Scanpan CTX SkilletBefore you buy cookware, there are several things you need to know to save time, money, and a bad cooking experience. There are some tricks to selecting the proper cookware. Here are 9 tips on how to buy cookware that is right for you. These will help you save money and get the best cookware, for you, at the best price.

Buy Cookware Right for You

1) Understand the “Type of Cook” you are buying for

Whether buying for yourself or someone else, choosing the most suitable cookware materials is directly related to how much it will get used. If someone wants dishwasher safe cookware, and you get them something that requires hand washing, well, you get the point. Your Cookware Helper has a unique and exclusive article called “Matching Cookware Materials To The Cook.”

2) Follow the simple 3-step process

Before you buy cookware, first pick your cookware material(s). Second, pick your brand(s). Third, get the best price. Very important – I recommend you not concern yourself with price first. Virtually all materials can be found in the full price spectrum. If budget is your primary concern, the Cookware Brands page has a chart of relative prices by cookware brands. Read the complete article about the 3-step process.

3) Quality lasts longer

Like fine cutlery, it is recommended to buy the best individual pieces you can afford. A long lasting and customized cookware set may include different materials and brands. Match your cookware pieces to what you cook and how you cook.

4) Read the care and use instructions

Most quality products will only support their warranty if proper use and care are evident. Most recommend hand washing in warm sudsy water with a nylon type scrub pad. Automatic dishwashers are very tough on cookware with the high drying heat and harsh cleaning chemicals. Today, there are some top quality brands offering dishwasher safe products, but time will prove how good they are.

5) Low to medium heat

Quality cookware, especially those clad with aluminum or copper, can perfectly and safely cook your food using low or medium heat. The use of medium high and high heat can cause damage with warping, discoloration, and fumes that can kill birds. Yes, that really is a warning for non stick products!

6) Watch your acidic foods and salts

Acidic foods can react with certain materials. It is best to remove foods soon after they are cooked. When adding salt to a dish, make sure to add it to a liquid first, and not directly on heated cookware. The salt can pit the cookware, damaging the surface and make foods stick to the pan.

7) Be “clad” you have layers

 To improve the heat distribution of certain cookware materials, manufacturers will clad or layer high heat distribution materials like aluminum or copper between or underneath the lesser heat quality materials. This is often done with stainless steel, where 3, 5, 7, or even 9 ply layers are used to improve the quality of the product. Of course, the more layers, the higher cost. Another factor with multi-clad products is where there are layered. Bottom layered products offers help where it needs it most. Fully clad products are layered on the walls also providing a far superior heat distribution throughout the cookware.

8) Handles and lids

Do not underestimate the worth of handles and lids. If the cookware item can be placed in the oven, what is the max temperature the handle can withstand? If you are looking at a large skillet, what is the size of the handle? As a tennis player, I know the value of having an appropriate sized grip. Handles that are too small can cause muscle strain. And if the skillet is extra heavy with food, will it wobble as you carry it across the kitchen? Helper handles to grip both sides of a pan come in very handy.

Lids need to seal properly. If the cookware is advertised as “waterless”, the seal has to be extra tight. If the lid is glass, is it tempered to reduce the risk of breakage, or protected with stainless steel?

9) Real-life user reviews and opinions

A lot can be learned from the experiences of others. Cookware reviews are an essential way to determine if a product is good at the start and over the long-term. Through-out this site, you will see we include a fair sampling of reviews for the given cookware

Before you buy cookware, be sure to consider all these factors. How you will use the cookware and what to look out for will help you buy the right cookware for your particular needs.

Happy Cooking!

 

Why Food Sticks to Cookware

There are 4 primary reasons why food sticks to cookware. When food sticks to cookware, it can damage the presentation of the dish, and make cleanup more difficult. Food sticking to cookware introduced a whole industry within the cookware market for nonstick cookware. However, regardless of the cookware materials you use, there are some simple steps to help avoid food sticking to cookware.

The 4 Reasons Why Food Sticks to Cookware

1) Cooking with heat set too high

In our microwave society where we can’t wait a full minute for water to boil, it is common for cooks to jack up the heat on a fry pan to medium high or high for everyday cooking. With the exception of high heat cooking like saute or browning, quality cookware manufacturers recommend low to medium heat for most cooking. When cookware is clad with aluminum or copper, those materials are such great conductors of heat that low to medium settings provide a heat level equivalent of medium to high on poorer quality cookware.

2) Placing frozen or very cold food into a hot pan

Once again, in a society where speed matters, we often toss frozen food right into a hot pan to get it cooking faster. That temperature differential will cause sticking. Quality cookware manufacturers recommend dethawing food or setting food out for 10 to 15 minutes so it can adjust to room temperature. Temperature differential is an important concept to understand. Cookware can warp if frozen foods are placed in a hot pan. If a hot pan is placed in a freezer for food storage is another cause of cookware warping. If you pay attention to temperature differentials, you can help avoid food sticking and cookware warping.

3) Poor quality cookware

No one wants to pay more than what they need to for cookware, nor throw out cookware before it needs to be. But let’s be honest. How many of you have at least one piece of non stick cookware that you know is beyond its time? Perhaps it lost its non stick qualities, or the non stick coating is scratched, chipped, or flaking off. If you have to add butter or oil to a non stick pan just like you would with a pan not coated with a non stick surface, there’s your sign it is time for it to go. When cookware has hot spots, that is a sign of genuinely poor quality cookware. Hot spots allow one part of the pan to get hotter than another part and the food sticks on those hot spots.

4) Improper cleaning methods

Yes, how you clean your cookware also affects the sticking properties of cookware. Stainless Steel Cookware manufacturers never recommend using rough or abrasive cleaning pads or chemicals. Doing so may scratch or damage the cooking surface. If the cooking surface gets scratched or nicked, those scratches or nicks can provide places where food can cling to and cause sticking. Nonstick cooking requires a properly cleaned and maintained cooking surface. Automatic dishwashers use very tough cleaning chemicals and high heat to clean dishes. That cleaning environment is very tough on shiny cookware exteriors and smooth interior surfaces. Most anodized aluminum cookware warranties are voided if the cookware is placed in an automatic dishwasher. Non-enameled cast iron cookware needs to be cleaned with just hot water and a cast iron cleaning brush. Using soap will remove the natural non stick coating that builds with use. Be sure to check your cookware care and use instructions.

When Food Sticking is Needed

Chefs know there are times when you want food to stick. Nothing beats a great sauce that was prepared with food particles stuck, deglazed, or caramelized on a pan. After searing some beef, chicken, pork, or lamb in a pan and having those leftovers stuck in the pan can be the beginning of a great sauce. Saute pans are made for the purpose of higher heat cooking where vegetables and meats cook fairly rapidly and the remains in the pan can be used for glazes or sauces.

Using the Same Cookware for a Nonstick and a Sticking Surface

Food sticks for 4 reasonsSo how can the same cookware provide a nonstick surface when you don’t want it to stick, yet stick when you want it to stick? Easy. The answer is to learn the proper cooking techniques for the cookware material you are using. Most nonstick surface manufacturers do not recommend high heat. If you need to sear or brown a food, use cast iron, anodized aluminum, or stainless steel. Those same surfaces can be used both for sticking and nonsticking when the proper heat is used, and the cookware is cleaned according to manufacturer specifications.

No one likes it when food stick to cookware when it is not intended. When you know why food sticks, you can take measures to prevent it. Know that too high of a heat, temperature differential, poor quality cookware, and cleaning methods are all known causes of why food sticks to cookware. I hope this information helps you to understand the nature of cookware and how its proper use can make your cookware last longer.

Happy Cooking!

 

Three Steps to Buy Cookware Right for You

How to Buy CookwareBefore you buy cookware in a store or online, be sure it is the right cookware for you. Three factors determine that. Understand that there is no single best cookware for everyone. The best cookware, FOR YOU, is the one that matches your health concerns, cooking style, budget, and decor. Here is a simple 3 step process that will help you buy cookware, FOR YOU, at the best price.

How to Buy Cookware

1) Determine Your Cooking Type

What type of cook are you? Do you enjoy the cooking process? Do you need cookware that is dishwasher safe? Nonstick? Healthy? Clad with copper and/or aluminum just on the bottom or up the side walls also? The answers to those questions will greatly narrow down your cookware choices. See my exclusive article on Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook.

2) Select Cookware Materials

The second step is to choose the proper material for the job. Cookware materials include stainless steel, anodized aluminum, cast iron, copper, nonstick, and glass / ceramic / stoneware. The cookware material will dictate how easy it will be to clean. For example, stainless steel can usually be put into the dishwasher, whereas anodized aluminum usually cannot. The health aspects of the cookware material may also be of interest. New or used, cookware can leave trace amounts of metals, chemicals, and coatings in your food. See Cookware Materials.

3) Select Cookware Brands/Product Lines

The third step is to choose the cookware brand(s). Once you have determined which materials you want for which jobs, then it becomes easier to determine which brands to choose. Here you will see brands by cookware material, and a relative price comparison of cookware brands. While some manufacturers offer complete lines spanning many different materials, most specialize with a limited range of cookware materials. See Cookware Brands.