Choosing Cookware

A good casserole is a good lunch“, says the French proverb. And there’s nothing to object. There is Choosing Cookware.

Aluminium pans

Aluminium pans relatively recently were the most common. They are relatively cheap, lightweight and quite durable. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so the water boils in this pan faster than in enamelled, we say. But dishes with too thin walls is easily deformed, so thick-walled aluminum pans are preferable.

Aluminum Pans

In aluminum cookware you can boil milk without fear that it will burn. However, the hot milk should immediately be poured into clean sterilized glass or ceramic container. Aluminum pots are even good for boiling water, cooking potatoes and vegetables (not sour!), and for cooking porridges.

Now the drawbacks. Aluminum is a soft metal, it easily scrapes from the sides of the dish. (However, combines with oxygen, aluminum forms aluminium oxide, Al2O3 is chemically inert substance, the bulk of ordinary absolutely harmless clay.) Food easily stick to the bottom of aluminium cookware and washed out with difficulty: do not scrape the aluminum with a steel wool or a brush, the more with a grit sandpaper, like some hostess do.

But aluminum cookware is indispensable for boiling milk (not for storage!), cooking a delicious thick milk (including for the authentic Bulgarian and Greek yogurt). And for this purpose it is necessary to allocate a separate pan and a not use for anything else. In order that the milk does not burn, before pouring milk it is necessary to rinse the pan with cold water.

Aluminium doesn’t like contact with acids and alkalis. But cabbage soup, kissel or meat in sweet and sour sauce are such reagents, and milk has alkaline reaction.  As a result, from the walls of the pots in our meals are transferred compounds, not provided for in culinary recipes, though harmless, but slightly alters the taste of the dish.

Eggs, dairy products, marinades, containing sulfur, calcium, leave on aluminum cookware ugly dark spots. Even if you’re willing to live with dark spots on the inner walls of the pans do not store cooked food in aluminum cookware. It is not suitable for cooking dietary meals, baby food (excluding milk and milk cereals).

All the above applies to aluminum pans, because they are the most uncomfortable for frying. Although you can fry potatoes, stew or fry vegetables in it, but mixing them with a fork or a knife not worth it, again due to excessive soft metal. So there is no place for an aluminum pan in the kitchen.

Enameled cookware

Enameled cookware for a long time was an alternative to aluminium. It is made from cast iron or iron and covered with 2-3 layers of vitreous enamel – inert substance that protects the metal from corrosion. This combination became possible due to identical coefficients of thermal expansion of metal and enamel. What can’t be said about their mechanical properties – they are different.

Enameled cookware

In an enamel pot food sticks more than in an aluminum. Try, for example, boil some milk in it. If you do not stir it constantly, it will get nasty burnt taste. You will achieve the best result, pre-rinse the dishes with cold water.

Many Housewives, tasted the soup, hit the spoon on the edge of the pot, to shake off the remnants. Enamel because of it inevitably begins to flake: first, about handles, where mechanical stresses are heterogeneous, then the bumpers. Chips may be formed on the bottom, if you would think of pounding on it or if you drop the pan. In such a pan cooking is impossible, even water you should not boil – and can be poisoned by compounds of metals (depending on the composition of the iron alloy used for the base).

When you cook in a pot, even with the slightest chipped enamel vitamin C in food completely disintegrates in just 1 minute (iron-a very efficient catalyst of decomposition of vitamin C). Although the thicker and more massive enamelware, the better it resists shocks, always handle it with extreme caution and it should be often replaced with a new one.

But until your pan is new and pleases the eye glitter and elegant ornamentation, can’t do without it when cooking soup, borscht, cooking vegetable stew, meat and mushroom soups. And in any other dishes you will not get such kissels and compotes, as in an enamel.

However, sparkling white and shine of enamel hinder good absorption of heat from the burners. Therefore, it is preferable, dark enamel or the cookware has specifically blackened bottom. If your old pans, devoid of these innovations, have smoky bottom – well, do not try to unbolt it, heating up on the fire will be a little faster.

Cast iron cookware

Cast iron cookware heats up slowly, the cast iron has a relatively low metal thermal conductivity, but the heat is distributed evenly and has a long life. Cast-iron boilers and roaster good for dishes that require long cooking, such as stewed meat, poultry or pilaf. (in order the food burnt to the surface of the iron we should try hard.) Cast iron frying pans generally are indispensable for making pancakes and many other dishes.

Cast iron cookware

Such cookware is not deformed, do not fade, not afraid scratch, has long service life. The disadvantages of cast iron are: its tendency to rust from the water, so you need to dry up quickly cast-iron cookware after washing. And cast iron is heavy, porous and fragile – if dropped can crack.

Cooked food should not be left in a cast iron pot. For example, buckwheat porridge turns black from the contact with iron. Iron, covered with enamel deprived of these disadvantages.

Cookware of refractory ceramics

Cookware of refractory ceramics is among gourmet cooking utensils, food cooked in it best retains its natural taste. And this subtle taste is preserved much longer in such a pot than in any other. However, refractory ceramics is a poor conductor of heat compared to metals, besides it is fragile. But it’s relatively cheap.

cookware of refractory ceramics

Very beautiful and elegant dinnerware made of refractory porcelain or ceramic. It is durable and indispensable for microwave ovens. It’s suitable for conventional ovens, electric and gas. But it’s expensive! This dish can be put on the table immediately from the oven without risk of upsetting the harmony of servings

This cookware is especially good for cooking portions of food in pots. Several small ceramic pots (at least according to the number of eaters) should be on a good kitchen for cooking in pots.

Cookware from refractory glass

Fire resistant glass is one of the last cries of fashion pots. Although it was used from the mid- twentieth century, but it is becoming more and more popular lately. Teapots, coffee pots, pots and pans are made of glass. Fire resistant glass is completely inert and does not come into contact with food, it absorbs heat, easy to clean and not susceptible to limescale.

cookware from refractory glass

Due to the low thermal conductivity warmth is long accumulated in cookware of refractory glass and therefore the food cools down slower.  But as the kettle for boiling water it is extremely inconvenient- for too long heated up due to the low thermal conductivity of the walls.

Pots of heat-resistant glass and porcelain require somewhat different treatment than our usual kitchenware. They can be put on any heating device up to an oil lamp, but it is necessary to enclose under the bottom metal grid-pider for the flame. Since glass conducts heat much worse than the metal, uneven warming of the bottom cause uneven thermal expansion, and utensils can crack. Metal grid pider helps evenly distribute the heat.

For the same reason, oval or rectangular heat-resistant glass dishes could not be put on the regular round burner – they can burst. This form of cookware designed for microwaves and ovens, where there is uniform heating throughout the volume.

Thick dish in a pot of fire-resistant glass and porcelain are cooked only on low heat cook only on low heat with constant stirring. If you gape and all the fluid boiled out, expensive pan may crack. It is impossible to put this dish on the fire without the addition of liquid or a large amount of fat. You will most likely fail to cook scrambled eggs in a glass pan.

And finally, if you put dishes removed from hot burner on the table, not noticing a puddle of water, you will most likely lose utensil and its contents. All for the same reason: the low thermal conductivity of glass does not have time to compensate for the temperature drop due to the contact with cold water.

And yet, despite the long of deficiencies, the future belongs to the cookware of a refractory ceramic, glass and porcelain thanks to high hygienic and environmental friendliness.

Cookware with teflon coating

Cookware with teflon coating. The most popular dinnerware for today has an interesting prehistory. Shortly before the World War Two, in the laboratories of the American company “DuPont” was created by a fluorinated polymer Teflon, extremely resistant to acids and alkalis, high temperatures and surprisingly slippery. It tried to apply in different roles, up to the manufacture of artificial joints.

Cookware with teflon coating

But the real fame Teflon purchased when they tried to make non-stick coatings for frying pans: it is almost impossible to stick anything to slippery Teflon, even if you really want to.  Kitchen utensils with Teflon coating started to produce in 50-ies. Very soon it conquered the entire world.

Models of Teflon cookware now so much that the eyes perge from the abundance of options. What to choose?

Utensils with Teflon coating is from aluminum or steel, enameled outside. Steel, of course, better, but more expensive. But aluminum does not detect here the above undesirable properties, as covered with a durable inert layer of Teflon. Internal Teflon coating can be smooth or cellular, like a honeycomb. Cells increase heating surface and make it more uniform. Pay attention to this.

When buying make sure that the outside bottom is completely flat (attach the straightedge to it). This circumstance is especially important for electric stoves where the burner using special technology is made perfectly flat. The small deflection of the pan will turn a noticeable amount of energy wastage. Not to mention the fact that meals in such a pot will be prepared longer.

Note: thin pans can warp if splash it with cold water after warming up or simply pour several eggs from the refrigerator. Conclusion – do not pursue cheapness.

Look again at the bottom of the outside. If it is entirely covered with tiny concentric grooves-tableware is ideal for gas stoves. Grooves increase the heating surface, fire need less, and dishes are cooked faster. Only in vain the grooves are silver. Because of this some of the heat is reflected without use, and the grooves themselves quickly lose their shine, they are difficult to clean from soot. If physicists were asked, they would advise to bring the similarities with the music till the end: make the bottom black. So bucket technologists still have a job.

The new Teflon utensils should be washed with warm water and soap, rinsed and oiled. Without oil frying on Teflon possible, but not necessary. The dishes are duller, and the frying pan does not serve so long as it could.  Another thing that you need to oil a few times less.  As for the durability of such utensils, it is comparatively small. The full service term for cheap thin pans is 3-4 years, and for the pans with mesh coating – 5-6 years. The most long-lasting – up to 10 years pots and pans with a thickened rough surface, resembling wet sand on the beach.

In the advertisement it is claimed that in a Teflon pot meals turn out delicious, but it’s just a publicity stunt to increase sales. But that the dishes often look more beautiful, rosy, appetizing is fact. In a Teflon pan it is possible (but not necessary) to cook soup, kissels, stew vegetables, boil milk.

Please note only that to stir or turn the food recommended with wooden or Teflon spatula.

When you use Teflon cookware, you must consider that a Teflon coating, like any polymer, at elevated temperature, albeit to a small degree, begins to decompose (especially if overheated!), and almost all the products of chemical decomposition are in food. So you must refrain from cooking children’s food in it. And for adults these unavoidable “supplement” is not healthy.

But the “Teflon” cookware convenient and economical in catering, especially for frying, because it dramatically reduces the consumption of expensive oil.

Stainless steel cookware

Stainless steel cookware is the best, most comfortable, hygienic and almost eternal. Stainless steel cookware is shiny, it’s not only beautiful, but also functional. It’s shine has deep physical meaning: shining surface cools much slower than matte, and food stays hot longer.

Stainless steel cookware

A good stainless steel is more expensive than Teflon, and the one with “puff” bottom – significantly more expensive. Its thick bottom consists of several layers of different metals: aluminum, copper, or bronze, which have high thermal conductivity. As a result, the heat is distributed evenly, food does not burn and cook quickly.

The handles of some pots do not get hot through the original liners.

The utensil is easy to clean and always looks like new (only need from time to time to lubricate the inner surface with the oil). In addition, it is much more durable than Teflon.

What does stainless steel not “love”?  If there was a strong brine for a very long time in it: spots appear, which, however, can still be easily removed. And stainless steel pans are little suitable for making pancakes-easy stick. (Generally, it is necessary to have a separate cast-iron pan for pancakes, and nothing to cook in it except pancakes. And then the first pancake will not be lumpy!)

Avoid overheating of cookware. This can cause the appearance of blue-yellow-green streaks oxide film (discolouration) on the walls and loss of shine.  It will be very difficult to scrape away.

Do not use alkaline detergents on the outer side of the dishes because they destroy the gloss, do not clean it with abrasive materials. Use only metal sponges.

When you see white spots on the inner dish surface remove them with a sponge soaked in vinegar or lemon juice.

If the food has burnt and the crust was formed at the bottom of the pot, pour in a bowl of water with baking soda, let stand (preferably more than one hour), then heat on a low flame and boil for 10 minutes. By doing this, you will extend the tiny pores and can easily remove the remaining contamination of steel wool.

A good stainless steel cookware is expensive, but it’s worth it. It’s available in sale a cheaper domestic “stainless steel”. It is important when buying to check that bottom and sides dishes are quite thick, and the cover fits well.

How many and which pans and pots you need for family hearth?

The number of pots depends on the size of families is misleading. The larger the family, the larger should be the pans, but their number depends on the number of dishes.

Here’s a sample layout from which you should choose four or five pots: one 1-litre, two 2-litre, two 2-litre, one 2-litre.

The required minimum of pans is 3: one large (preferably with a cover), two smaller ones (among them one cast iron for pancakes).

And if you’re going to buy – kit is better. It will come out cheaper. At least due to the fact that the caps would need less than dishes: one for pots and pans. Moreover, covers are now sold separately: made of transparent heat-resistant glass, with an adjustable release valve for steam.

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