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Category: Kitchen Tips

cookware

So many pans, so little time! It’s true, there is so much cookware to choose from these days that it’s hard to tell where to begin. However...

1. You can never go wrong with cast iron cookware for skillets and Dutch ovens. Cast iron heats evenly and maintains heat as well as the most expensive cookware out there.

Ironically, the very thing that gives it these great qualities is also it’s biggest drawback: it’s weight. Even a smaller cast iron Dutch oven tips the scales at about eight and a half pounds.A 12” cast iron skillet, with no food in it, weighs about ten pounds! On the positive side, cast iron is comparatively inexpensive, impervious to wear and tear, and, when properly seasoned, non-stick. It even leaches small amounts of iron, a beneficial mineral, into foods, particularly acidic foods like tomatoes. (I always cook my marinara sauce in my cast iron skillet!) For soups, stews and braised meats, nothing beats enamel coated cast iron pots or Dutch ovens.


2. Stainless steel cookware is probably the best choice for saucepans. The most popular brands have either a copper or aluminum core which assures even heat conduction and retention. (Bear in mind, aluminum cookware is NOT RECOMMENDED for health reasons. The aluminum core in this cookware is completely wrapped in stainless steel, and never comes into contact with the food being prepared.) Stainless steel cookware is lighter in weight than cast iron. It also has the advantage of being able to more easily see the browning process when cooking certain foods than with cast iron. Stainless steel cookware is generally more expensive, but the most popular brands are really an investment that will last practically forever, and actually do come with lifetime warrantees. They are easy to clean, but are not “non-stick.”


3. It is good news that there are now safer versions of non-stick cookware available. Standard non-stick cookware contains perfluorocarbons which are emitted into the air when heated to high temperatures and into the food if the cookware is scratched.( It should be alarming that many pet birds have died due to the use of non-stick cookware. What does that mean for humans?) The very safest choice for non-stick is still a very well-seasoned cast iron pan. (If you can find a well-used one at an estate sale you have struck gold!) If you must use non-stick, look for a brand that is labeled PFC-Free. It is usually inexpensive and lightweight. Even safer versions should be replaced if they become scratched.

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