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Pots and Pans

To do any type of cooking at home, you'll need a set of pots and pans, but there is a vast array of sizes, surfaces, shapes, prices, and brands to choose from.

Heavy gauge, highly conductive metals that provide rapid heat transfer make the best quality cookware, especially for cooking on the stove top. The average cook will need a small and large saucepan, a small and large sauté (frying) pan and a medium sized stock pot to get started. All of these should have interchangeable close fitting lids. Griddles and skillets are nice additions.

Consider the following when buying pots and pans:

  • Metal cooking equipment can be made from copper, aluminum, stainless steel, or cast iron.
    • Copper is frequently the choice of professional cooks because of its superior heat transferring ability, but it can be very expensive.
    • Anodized aluminum is manufactured by an electron chemical process that makes it non-porous and non-food reactive. It is 30% harder than stainless steel.
    • Stainless steel is very durable, but it is not the best heat conductor. It is often given a copper or aluminum bottom to improve this. Stainless steel is easy to take care of because it is not damaged by cleaning in the dishwasher. It has a long lasting, attractive natural luster.
    • Cast iron provides good, even heat, but it is very heavy. It can be difficult to take care of since it needs seasoning before it can be used and cannot be washed in the dishwasher.
  • Traditional surfacing for pots and pans includes stainless steel, aluminum, and enamel. Small amounts of fats or oils are necessary when cooking with these to prevent food from sticking and burning. Non-stick surfaces do not need fats or oil and so are a healthy way to cook. They are also very easy to clean up. Make sure when buying non-stick cookware that the surface is long lasting and durable. Also, hard edged utensils will scratch and damage non-stick surfaces, so use only those made for this cookware.
  • Better quality cookware will be versatile enough to withstand the highest temperatures and can go under the broiler. Handles should be riveted on. Look for features such as high domed lids and stay cool handles.

An economical way to buy pots and pans is by purchasing a basic combination set. Look for manufacturers that offer a life time warranty. Brand names include Farberware, All-clad, Cuisinart, Calphalon and Circulon.

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