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How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

It is not hard to season cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned to properly maintain its nearly nonstick cooking surface. Today, cast iron cookware comes in 2 varieties, standard black cast iron and enameled cast iron. The enameled cast iron does not need to be seasoned. In this article, I’ll discuss the best way to season cast iron cookware.

Lodge Signature Cast Iron Skillet

Why You Need to Season Cast Iron Cookware

When properly maintained, cast iron cookware can provide a nearly nonstick surface. As it is used, the oils fill in the pores of the pan or skillet, and helps release food from the cookware. If food sticks to your cast iron cookware, it is not seasoned enough or properly.

To season cast iron cookware:

  1. Clean and dry the cookware thoroughly
  2. Apply a thin coat of an appropriate oil
  3. Cook the cast iron in the oven
  4. Cool and store properly

Clean the Cast Iron Cookware

The first step of the seasoning process is to make sure the pan or skillet is properly cleaned. Rinse the pan out with warm, non-soapy, water. Using a stiff bristled brush, scraping any deposits off of the pan. Only if there are some seriously stuck on deposits is it OK to use soapy water. The soap will take away whatever seasoning has built up.

Once the pan or skillet is cleaned, dry it thoroughly with paper towels or a clean dry rag.

Apply the Seasoning Oil

Once the pan or skillet is dry, apply your seasoning oil. I use a virgin coconut oil. Use a neutral oil like food grade coconut oil, vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard. I’m hearing a flax seed oil works wonders also! I use wax paper to apply the seasoning. Others use a clean rag or even foil. I’ve found that paper towels are not the best to use because some paper remnants can stick to the cookware.

It is very important NOT to apply too much oil. If it builds up after the heating process, and is stored, the oil can become rancid. That’s not good.

Bake the oil into the Cast Iron

After the oil is applied:

  1. Heat the oven to around 350 degrees. For flax seed oil, use a higher temp like 450.
  2. Place the pan or skillet upside down on the top shelf of the oven.
  3. Place a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom shelf to catch any drippings.
  4. Cook for 30 – 60 minutes.

After the cast iron has cooked for 30 to 60 minutes, place it on the stove top or a cooling rack to let it cool.

Properly Storing Cast Iron Cookware

It is best to use cast iron cookware nearly every day. Using it and cleaning it properly on a regular basis builds up the best seasoning. If it must be stored, place a layer of paper towels or a rag on the bottom of the shelf. Store the cookware upside down, making sure there is air circulation around the cookware. Do not store lids on the pan locking in air. Seasoned cast iron needs to have ample air circulation. Locked in air will cause the baked in oil to become rancid. That’s not good.

When you are ready to use the cast iron cookware after it has been stored, rinse it with warm, non soapy water, and dry with a clean rag or paper towel. The use of soap will remove the seasoning. Very bad.

Properly seasoned cast iron cookware is a joy to use. The heating properties of cast iron and the nonstick surface will do a great job on whatever you cook, making you look like a professional chef!

Happy cooking!

 

The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set

A Cast Iron Cookware set is not a dream anymore! Cast iron cookware is favored by cooks who like the healthy and naturally nonstick surface of cast iron. Cooks will be pleased to know that manufacturers are making additional cast iron cookware pieces that make up a full cookware set. What was once just a frying pan and Dutch oven, is now growing to include casserole dishes, sauce pans, saute pans, and other essential pieces of cookware. Enameled cast iron cookware is leading the trend with its luxurious colors and added food storage capabilities.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Cookware Set

The Popularity of Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware has been popular for a very long time because of its heat distribution and retention capabilities. Still a camp favorite for that overnight camping trip, new variations of cast iron cookware introduce colors and flexibility with enameled surfaces. Manufacturers are creating essential cookware pieces made of enameled cast iron with colors that fit any kitchen decor. Able to go from stove top or oven right to the kitchen table in fashionable style makes cast iron as popular as ever. Some enameled surfaces, being non reactive with food, even allow for marinating food and food storage after it is cooked.

The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set

A standard cast iron cookware set will include:

  • A skillet / frying pan / omelet pan
  • A Dutch oven / French oven / large casserole dish w/ lid
  • The growing cookware set can include:
  • A sauce / saucier pan w/ lid
  • A saute pan w/ lid
  • A buffet casserole dish w/ lid
  • A panini pan w/ press
  • New cookware and styles being introduced all the time!

Seasoning and Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware

 Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Traditional cast iron needs to be seasoned. Seasoning cast iron cookware is a process of adding a quality oil to the inside of the cookware and baking it for an hour at 350 degrees. The seasoning process fills in the porous surface providing a naturally non stick surface. Enameled cast iron cookware does not need to be seasoned.

Always be sure to read the care and use instructions of your cast iron cookware. Most will recommend hand washing, even the enameled items that can be placed in an automatic dishwasher. Traditional pieces definitely need to be hand washed and dried immediately.

Cast iron cookware, always a kitchen favorite, is growing even more popular with luxuriously colored enamel surfaces and essential cookware pieces. Popular brands like Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, and Calphalon have attractive and functional cast iron cookware pieces. As new pieces become available, they are being added to cookware sets, growing what was once a stingy 3 piece cookware set into full fledge 7 to 9 piece sets.

Happy Cooking!

 

Luxurious Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Colorful and beautiful, enameled cast iron cookware is healthy cookware for every kitchen. With the excellent heat distribution and retention benefits of cast iron, enameled cast iron cookware is functional and attractive.

Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Staub Coq au VinWhether Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, or any other enameled cast iron cookware manufacturer, the enameled colors add a luxurious look to the standard black cast iron. With various shades or red, green, blue, and brown, the colors can fit just about any decor. Cast iron cookware traditionally is one of the least expensive cookware materials. While an enameled finish will add to the cost, there are still inexpensive options. The cost will often be associated with the quality and number of enameled layers. The higher quality enamel will be chip resistant, stain resistant, and have as many as four (4) layers of colorful enamel. While the term enamel is often associated with paint, cookware enamel is a glass product, thus healthy and easy to clean.

Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

Probably one of the most famous pieces of cast iron cookware is the skillet. While today they do make casserole dishes, Dutch ovens, and even sauce pans in enameled cast iron, the skillet/omelet pan/frying pan is most common. Placing your cast iron skillet on the stove top with low to medium heat will result in fantastic fried eggs, bacon, potatoes, or anything else fit for a skillet. Cast iron griddle pans are becoming immensely popular. Ridges on the bottom make an ordinary skillet not only healthy but also gives that restaurant quality presentation. Use a grill pan for steaks or any other food where grill marks would add to the taste and/or visual appeal.

Enameled Outside and/or Inside

On the outside of the cookware, the enameled finish makes it easy to clean as well as visually appealing. On the inside, it adds a level of nonstick performance and opportunity to use the same cookware for stove and table top. It is non reactive with foods. And it does not need to be seasoned as traditional cast iron cookware.

Use and Cleaning Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Like most high quality cookware, it is important to read the care and use instructions. You will find it is usually recommended:

• Do not use metallic utensils

• Use low to medium heat

• Do not use in the oven over 475 degrees

• Use a cloth or mitt to handle the cookware

• The surface can chip or scratch if banged or dropped

• Use plastic or nylon scouring pads. Not metal

• While some are automatic dishwasher safe, hand washing is still highlyrecommended

• Dry the cookware before storing

Beautiful, functional, and healthy, enameled cast iron cookware adds a level of sophistication to any kitchen. The busy cook, chef, or healthy cook will enjoy the colors and usefulness of enameled cookware. For more information about using cast iron cookware, be sure to read our article on The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set.

 Happy Cooking!

 

What is Safe Cookware and Healthy Cookware

Can certain cookware be considered safe cookware or healthy cookware? I go over what makes cookware safe and healthy. You might be surprised at a couple cookware materials! We’ve all heard the phrase “We are what we eat.” We probably haven’t thought of that in terms of aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, glass, or polytetrafluoroethylene. 

Introducing the Your Cookware Helper Exclusive “Healthy Cookware” Logo

Healthy Cookware

Your Cookware Helper tries to make your cookware decisions as easy as possible. We were the first to introduce a logo to easily identify dishwasher safe cookware. Now, I am happy to introduce you to the Healthy Cookware logo. Soon, you will be seeing it on all the pages identifying the cookware known to be safe and healthy.

You Are Ultimately Responsible For Your Health

Safe Cookware Healthy CookwareAs I write this article and summarize the facts, I don’t need to remind you that ultimately it is you who has to take control and responsibility for your health. As you review this information, you have to decide if what you are presented with makes sense for you. Understand that cookware manufacturers are always going to claim their products are safe. There are industry associations, representing manufacturers, who may conduct some tests and claim certain product lines as safe cookware. Regardless of these claims, it is still you who has to decide whether you believe the tests and arguments presented. History is prolific with examples of products claimed to be safe, tested as being safe, but ultimately recalled or slowly banned from use. Doctors once advertised and promoted cigarette smoking as good and safe. That is one example the medical community would love to forget. So as you read what is presented, it is OK to be skeptical of certain claims and tests. It is your health, and you know you are responsible for your own health.

What Makes Healthy Cookware or Safe Cookware?

Nonstick Skillets are NOT Considered Healthy CookwareThe most important health factor to consider is the transfer, or leaching, of the cookware cooking surface to the foods being cooked. External surfaces that do not come in contact with food are not a health concern. Copper cookware was once used as a common material to cook food. It was later discovered that native copper interacts with foods, especially acidic foods, and is highly toxic. Today copper is only used clad in between other cookware materials or on the outside, and not on internal cooking surfaces. Another factor is not just the internal cooking surface, but what happens to that cooking surface when it is heated. Heat changes the composition of materials. What may be safe at room temperature can be extremely toxic when applied to a heat source.

Is Nonstick Cookware Healthy and Safe Cookware?

That is the million dollar question, and most probably, millions of dollars have been spent arguing each side. Additional information can be found on our Nonstick Cookware page. Here’s a synopsis of what we know:

  • Teflon is a patented product, discovered in 1938 by DuPont, and approved for cookware by the FDA in 1960.
  • Many lawsuits have been filed over the nonstick surface both as a cookware and in its manufacturing.
  • “In 2004, DuPont agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle another class-action lawsuit brought by Ohio and West Virginia residents who contended that releases of PFOA from a plant in West Virginia contaminated supplies of drinking water.” 
    New York Times, Alina Tugend, October 14, 2006
  • DuPont acknowledges that when their non stick surface is heated beyond a certain level, it can kill birds and create a sickness in humans they call Polymer Fume Fever. It produces symptoms resembling a cold.
  • All nonstick surface manufacturers claim their products are safe. The FDA does not OK a product as “safe” but rather that it is safe for use in cookware.
  • There have been no published studies on the effect of ingesting chipping and peeling non stick surfaces have on humans.

I do not consider traditional DuPont nonstick style surfaces to be considered healthy cookware or safe cookware. There are safe and healthy nonstick cookware alternatives, however. DuPont style nonstick cookware has chemicals used in production and use, like PFOA and PTFE, that are known cancer causing agents.  

Safe Nonstick Cookware

I do recommend Scanpan as a safe and healthy nonstick cookware. I have been using Scanpan classic cookware for several years now and I love it. It is durable and the nonstick surface is nearly as good now as it was when I bought it. And the best part is that it is truly dishwasher safe. Check this out:

Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set
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Is Hard Anodized Cookware Safe Cookware?

Anolon Advanced Cookware SetSince the 1970’s when Canadian researchers reported that the brains of Alzheimer’s disease victims contained abnormally high levels of aluminum, aluminum cookware has been under fire. “Now cookware manufacturers have developed a process for treating aluminum that retains the heat conductivity properties of the metal, but changes aluminum in other ways. The process, called anodization, involves a series of electrochemical baths that thicken the oxide film that forms naturally on aluminum. This supplemental coating hardens the metal, making it more scratch resistant. Food barely sticks on the hard, smooth surface of this altered aluminum, making it easier to clean.” FDA Consumer Magazine.

In reference to anodized aluminum cookware, I am not referring to the variety that has a nonstick surface applied to the inside. When it comes to health matters, the reality is that there are no published studies indicating safety one way or another. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Manufacturers and industry lobbyists all claim it is safe. There is a strong argument in their favor in that the aluminum has been treated, albeit electrochemically, and what the food is cooking on is technically no longer standard aluminum.
  • Aluminum is ingested from so many food sources today, the amount leached from cookware, about 35 micrograms, is a fraction ingested from a single antacid tablet, as much as 5,000 micrograms.

Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware that is in perfect condition appears to be safe cookware. My caution comes under 2 circumstances: 1) Avoid anodized aluminum cookware once it has become scratched and the native aluminum can leach through, and 2) Avoid it if your health routine already has you avoiding aluminum from your diet. Additional information can be found on our Anodized Aluminum Cookware page, or the article Is Anodized Aluminum Cookware Safe.

UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this article, most anodized aluminum cookware comes with a nonstick surface at least on the inside. There are very few product lines available today where food is cooked on the anodized aluminum surface. When it comes to the health aspect, you have to consider the nonstick surface.

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Healthy Cookware?

Cuisinart Chefs Classic Stainless Steel Cookware SetStainless Steel is considered a safe and healthy cookware, with one caveat. It is usually recommended that the inside cooking surface of stainless steel cookware be 18/10 stainless steel. That 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The published safe intake rate of chromium is 50-200 micrograms per day. One meal prepared in 18/10 stainless steel cookware gives you about 45 micrograms. So, that is fine. When it comes to nickel, some people are allergic to nickel. It is thought that the average adult consumes between 150 to 250 micrograms of nickel per day. Even when cooking highly acidic foods like tomatoes or rhubarb, it does not give off anywhere near that amount. If someone is highly allergic to nickel, an alternative is to use a stainless steel cookware with less nickel, like 18/8 or 18/0. Additional information can be found on our Stainless Steel Cookware page.

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
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What Cookware Materials Are Considered Healthy and Safe?

Most cooks desiring to cook with healthy cookware will usually use glass/ceramic/stoneware, cast iron, and stainless steel. There is a reason why glass is used in lab experiments. It is not porous and does not react with its contents. Glass cookware has been around for a long time and still used heavily today. Ceramic cookware, though can chip, can have excellent heating properties and be easy to clean. Stoneware can be shaped and colored to be suitable for many decors. Though used primarily inside the stove, there are some pieces that can be used on the stovetop. Additional information can be found on our Glass Cookware page.

Cast iron, plain or enameled, is an excellent choice because of its long lasting heating abilities. The enamel surface is glass based, not paint based. Additional information can be found on our Cast Iron Cookware page.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2 Quart Round French Oven, Cherry Red Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2 Quart Round French Oven, Cherry Red
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In this article I summarized the findings on the health aspects of dominant cookware materials. Be sure to check out the links to the individual materials of interest. It is important that everyone take charge of their health, and become knowledgeable about healthy and safe cookware materials.

Happy Cooking!

 

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.

 

5 Cookware Birthday Gift Ideas

Here are 5 cookware birthday gift ideas. Cookware makes excellent birthday gifts, especially for pots or pans we don’t want to invest in ourselves. Birthdays happen all throughout the year, so the birthday gift does not have to be seasonal. The cookware does need to match the cook. The most important attributes I suggest to take into consideration is whether or not the cookware needs to be dishwasher safe or healthy. The last thing anyone wants to do is give a gift that will not be used or enjoyed. So, make the best selection from what you know about the birthday person. Here are my cookware birthday gift ideas that ALWAYS make excellent birthday gifts.

Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

5 Cookware Birthday Gift Ideas

1) Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Lodge CasserolesBeautiful and functional, enameled cast iron cookware is easy to clean and healthy. Usually not recommended for the dishwasher, these pieces make up for the hand washing with their colors and functionality. Braisers, roasting dishes, Dutch ovens, or frying skillets, these pieces are always handy. Able to take them from stove to tabletop is a great feature. Lodge, Staub, and Le Creuset make excellent selections. Get the best prices on enameled cast iron cookware at Amazon.com!


 

2) Quality Stainless Steel Skillets

All-Clad Stainless Steel D5 SkilletIf the birthday person is into cooking, they will enjoy a stainless steel skillet for sauteing. Nothing beats a quality stainless steel fry pan for the fond that makes great sauces. Healthy and dishwasher safe (this does not include the nonstick inside versions), these pans make excellent birthday gifts. All-Clad, Calphalon, and Cuisinart are my personal favorites. 

Cuisinart MCP22-30H MultiClad Pro Stainless 12-Inch Skillet with Helper Cuisinart MCP22-30H MultiClad Pro Stainless 12-Inch Skillet with Helper
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3) A Large Dishwasher Safe Nonstick Skillet

Circulon Infinite SkilletsFragile foods like eggs and fish fillets on stainless steel skillets is an invitation to long clean-ups. So, a nonstick fry pan is needed. If the birthday person has worn out skillets where the nonstick surface is coming off, a new one will be a life saver. Today there are many choices for nonstick skillets that are also dishwasher safe. All-Clad, Anolon, Circulon, and Farberware all make excellent nonstick skillets. For the Dishwasher Safe variety, I think it’s hard to beat the quality of Scanpan, winner of my premier nonstick cookware award. 

Scanpan CTX 12-3/4-Inch Fry Pan Scanpan CTX 12-3/4-Inch Fry Pan
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4) Healthy Eco-Friendly Cookware

Scanpan Classic FrypanIf the birthday person is into healthy living, Non-PFOA cookware is required. Today ceramic substances are getting more nonstick all the time, and manufacturers are offering chemical free additions to their product lines. While stainless steel is always a good choice here, some new additions also offer nonstick varieties. In my opinion, none are quite up to the old Teflon standards for non-stickyness, but come very close. The Cuisinart GreenGourmet and Scanpan product lines are my choice. I’ve been testing them and find them durable and pretty good on the nonstick surface. 

Cuisinart GGT22-30HCR GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless 12-Inch Covered Skillet Cuisinart GGT22-30HCR GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless 12-Inch Covered Skillet
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5) Clay Cookware from Emile Henry

Emile Henry Flame Top Dutch OvenClay cookware offers excellent heating capabilities, nice colors, and a unique gift that can make memories for a lifetime. My choice here is Emile Henry French clay pottery. They offer the new Flame Top product line that can be used on top as well as in the stove. A fondue set, tagine, of Dutch oven make excellent choices. Or, a dazzling pie dish or seafood themed appetizer dishes make a great impression. Whatever the selection, Emile Henry clay cookware is always a welcomed birthday gift. 

Emile Henry 614593 Flame Top 12-Inch Brazier Red Emile Henry 614593 Flame Top 12-Inch Brazier Red
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