Whether you’re buying cookware for the very first time or are an experienced home cook looking for an upgrade, choosing the right cookware set can quickly get overwhelming. With so many brands, finishes, shapes, and sizes on the market, it can be difficult to come to a decision. However, the solution to this is pinpointing what you culinary needs are before heading to the department store to make your purchase. As well as saving you the stress of reading label after label in the store, you can be confident in your investment and enjoy creating delicious meals for years to come. Without further ado, here’s what you should be looking for in cookware sets:
The first thing to consider when buying cookware is your cooking style. If you’re big on sautéing, investigate cookware that’s highly responsive to heat so that you can control temperature immediately (copper and aluminium are both superb heat conductors). If you often cook acidic foods, like tomato sauces, wine sauces and fruits, it’s essential to choose a pan that’s nonreactive to prevent it from imparting a metallic taste to your meal.
While it may be tempting to pick up that $10 non-stick pan, it’s best to avoid cheaper cookware because ironically, it’ll end up costing you more in the long run as they need to be replaced frequently. If possible, save up and purchase a high-quality cookware set. Not only will your food taste better, but you’ll also save yourself the money and effort required to repeatedly replace cheaper pieces when they inevitably break or get damaged.
As a rule of thumb, the heavier the base, the better the pan. Pans with a thin bottom are more likely to dent and warp and are known for holding heat unevenly, which often leads to burned food. Heavy-gauge pans, on the other hand, are excellent for heating evenly and provide better heat diffusion. This is because a thicker pan has more distance between the heat source and your cooking surface, allowing the heat to distribute evenly as it moves upwards.
Unsurprisingly, different types of cookware require varying levels of maintenance. Some materials, such as copper and cast-iron, call for a bit more TLC than a stainless steel or non-stick pan. If you do decide on copper or cast-iron pots and pans, be prepared to hand wash, polish and season them after every use to keep them looking fresh and working optimally for the long term.
Pots and pans come in a multitude of different sizes, which often adds another layer of confusion to the purchasing process. To solve this issue, think about the type of food you cook most often. Do you usually prepare soups and stews to freeze for meals later in the week? A stockpot with a heavy bottom may be just what you need. Is pasta your go-to weekday meal? Consider a large anodized-aluminum pan that’s ideal for throwing ingredients in without having to worry about your food getting scorched. Don’t forget to consider storage and washing up, either: if your new pot is too big to fit in your sink or cupboard, make sure to choose a smaller size.
Choosing the right cookware is all about matching your equipment to your lifestyle, cooking style and budget. Now that you know what to look for go forth and shop with confidence!