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Pros and Cons of Cooking Materials

So, what’s the point of selecting certain cookware material types, anyway? This is a question asked by countless consumers, and with good reason. Let’s examine why selecting the right cookware material type is so important. You’ll discover what copper cookware is all about, as well as why people opt for copper cookware, cast iron cookware, hard anodized cookware, or other cookware materials for their cooking. There are reasons for each of these selections, and we’ll break it all down for you so you can decide which material type best suits your individual needs in the kitchen.

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum is an extremely lightweight material. It’s cheap to produce, and many manufacturers combine it with other materials to reinforce the cookware they create. The price you’ll pay for aluminum cookware will fluctuate depending upon the material that a company combines with the aluminum. Most aluminum cookware is anodized aluminum. This is because the combination creates a tough surface coating that doesn’t react with the foods you cook. If you choose un-anodized cookware, the dishes you prepare may take on an acidic taste.

Advantages of Aluminum:

• Depending upon the materials aluminum cookware is combined with, the price may be low to moderate, so it’s great for tighter budgets

• Aluminum cookware is a superior heat conductor

Disadvantages of Aluminum:

• If aluminum cookware is not wrapped with clad materials, it has the potential to scratch or warp when faced with cooking utensils and/or high heating temperatures.

• If it’s not coated with another material, the aluminum may react with foods and create an acidic taste

 Cast Iron Cookware – Enameled Cast Iron

One of the oldest materials used to make cookware is cast iron. Although it takes more time to heat cast iron cookware, the foods you’ll cook once it’s hot are very much worth the wait. Both cast iron cookware and enameled cast iron requires more care than other cookware materials due to issues with rust. In addition, traditional cast iron requires seasoning before first use, a process that will ensure it has a protective layer that will guard the surface of the pieces and keep foods from sticking. Advantages of Cast Iron:

• Retains heat beautifully once heating temperature is reached

• Relatively inexpensive

• Unparalleled durability, lasts a lifetime

Disadvantages of Cast Iron:

• If you opt for enameled cast iron, it can become quite expensive

• Heavier and bulkier than most other cookware

• For non-enameled cast iron, to maintain the nonstick surface, you must season the cookware before first use

Copper Cookware

Although copper cookware is more high-maintenance than other materials, it’s worth the added TLC. Professional chefs and 5-star restaurants use copper, and for good reason – it’s arguably the best cookware to use in order to create stellar dishes time after time. Advantages of Copper:

• Extremely responsive to cooktops, so dishes cook quickly and evenly every time

• Fantastic at distributing heat

• Will last a lifetime with proper upkeep

Disadvantages of Copper:

• Needs hand-washing, polishing, and extra care when storing and using the cookware

• Some of the most expensive cookware on the market

• May scratch during cooking, possible to change the color and/or taste of foods cooked in copper pieces

Hard Anodized Cookware

Hard anodized cookware is the most popular material on the market. It’s usually aluminum-based, and manufacturers coat, or “anodize” it with a strong material that helps protect your dishes while you cook. Advantages of Hard Anodized:

• Most sets are nonstick, so foods slide from the cookware effortlessly

• Anodized aluminum is stronger than regular aluminum cookware, so it will resist wrapping far more effectively

• Relatively inexpensive when compared to other cookware materials

Disadvantages of Hard Anodized:

• Most hard anodized cookware sets require hand-washing

• Although some sets are “dishwasher safe,” it’s not recommended to wash hard anodized pieces in the dishwasher

NonStick Cookware

Nonstick cookware is the most common material on the market. It’s easy to use, a breeze to clean, and foods slide from the pieces with ease. The most common kinds of nonstick cookware are frying pans and roasting pans, because drippings and grease are the worst offenders when it comes to sticking.

Advantages of Non Stick:

• It’s not necessary to use much – or any – oil during cooking

• Cleanup is a breeze – leftover foods slide out with minimal scrubbing

Disadvantages of Non Stick:

• You should hand-wash nonstick cookware with a non-abrasive pad unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer

• Nonstick coating has a tendency to scratch, especially if you use metal utensils to cook

Stainless Steel Cookware

Most high-end kitchens have a set of stainless steel cookware, and if you’re serious about your cooking, it’s a great addition to your kitchen. The majority of sets are an 18/10 mix of metal alloys, and when the sets are combined with other cookware materials, such as aluminum or copper, they’re superior conductors of heat.

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Advantages of Stainless Steel:

• Durable enough to last for years

• Much more resistant to scratching than other materials

• Dishwasher safe, so cleanup is near-effortless

• Never reacts with the acids in foods you cook

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel:

• Not the best heat conductor, but when combined with other materials, this issue is easily overcome

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