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Which Cookware is Right For You?

July 6, 2013

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When shopping for pots, pans and baking dishes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options. Should you buy a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel frying pan? A glass or ceramic baking dish? Should an enameled cast iron Dutch oven be a staple in your kitchen?

It’s true that not all cookware is created equal, but what is the best choice for your kitchen? It’s important to have all the right kitchen tools when you are cooking healthy meals for you are your family. We did some investigating to figure out just which options are essential to the home cook, and which ones you should leave to the pros (or avoid all together!)

Cast Iron Cookware
Advantages: relatively inexpensive, can go from stovetop to oven, good heat retention, very durable, adds iron to your food

Disadvantages: heavier than most cookware options, requires regular maintenance, can rust if not seasoned

Should you buy it? If you don’t mind a bit of maintenance, then yes, one cast iron skillet is a great addition to your kitchen!  Just remember not to wash your cast iron with soap and water. Instead, rub it with salt to remove any cooking residue, then wipe clean.

Stainless-Steel Cookware
Advantages: very durable, easy to maintain, doesn’t react with the food you are cooking, does not warp from heat, relatively inexpensive

Disadvantages: poor heat conductor unless it has a copper or aluminum core

Should you buy it? Stainless steel is the most popular option for the home cook, and its durability and low maintenance makes it a great option for your kitchen. Just make sure you purchase a mid to high price level set with a copper or aluminum core to ensure that the pan will heat evenly.

Copper Cookware
Advantages: excellent heat conductor

Disadvantages: expensive, reacts with acidic foods, requires a fair amount of maintenance

Should you buy it? Unless you are a chef, it’s probably not worth the price to add copper cookware to your kitchen.

Non-Stick or Aluminum Cookware
Advantages: inexpensive, excellent heat conductor, food doesn’t stick to the surface

Disadvantages: reacts with acidic food, scratches and dents easily, potentially hazardous coating.

Should you buy it? Aluminum is a soft metal, and is usually finished with nonstick chemical coating that chips easily, contaminating food. Aluminum cookware is not a good choice for your kitchen. To make sure food doesn’t stick to pans that are not nonstick, just make sure to use an appropriate amount of oil or butter, and cook food at a moderate heat.

Glass vs. Ceramic Baking Dish
If you are shopping for a baking dish and can’t decide between glass and ceramic, don’t fret! Both are great options and have very similar cooking properties. The great thing about baking dishes is that they can go straight from oven to table, so choosing one is just a matter of aesthetic preference. Needless to say, both glass and ceramic are better options than nonstick aluminum baking dishes.

Do You Need an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven?
If you love spending time in the kitchen, chances are a Dutch oven is one of your mainstays. Much like a cast iron skillet, you can use your Dutch oven to sauté on the stove, and then transfer to the oven to bake. You can also use it in place of a Crock Pot by leaving it in a low-heat oven for several hours. However, Dutch ovens can be expensive and heavy, so do some research to find the right one for you before you purchase one.

What is your favorite cookware?