How to Choose Quality Cookware

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Many folks don’t give much thought to their cookware. To them, a pot is a pot and a pan is a pan. The more seriously you take cooking, however, the more important good quality cookware becomes. High quality cookware heats more efficiently, cooks more evenly and lasts far longer than lower-quality equipment. The better your cookware, the easier cooking becomes, so it’s worth investing in quality pots and pans from the outset, rather than wasting money on cheap ones that won’t perform well or last. Even if you can’t afford a whole set at once, it’s better to buy one good quality piece at a time, rounding out your cookware collection throughout the years.

Once upon a time when I was outfitting my first kitchen, I naively chose a set of cookware that initially looked (and seemed) great but turned out to have several strikes against it, rendering it a big mistake. The pieces were nice and thick, but that alone didn’t make them good performers. At the time I thought a non-stick coating was preferable but over time it became worn on every pan, no matter how carefully I used and cleaned them. Attractively enameled in an almond hue, they matched my kitchen perfectly – until the enamel chipped off, exposing the metal underneath. Another “selling feature” were the attractive oak handles. What was I thinking? Wood expands and contracts – which is exactly what these handles did. The screwed-on wooden handle on the lid of my dutch oven cracked and simply fell off one day! The lesson here – appearance isn’t a reliable determining factor as to quality.

What constitutes high quality cookware?

Look for these features when choosing cookware:

  • Made of material that conducts heat smoothly and efficiently:

*Copper cookware is considered the best for heat conduction – it’s pricey, however, and requires special care to clean and maintain an attractive appearance.
*Aluminum is a great heat conductor but should be “anodized” which is a process that increases its strength and durability.
*Stainless steel is the most common material for cookware, popular because it is durable, convenient and affordable. It’s not, however, particularly good at conducting heat.

  • No matter what material the cookware is made of, the base should be thick and flat to ensure efficient and even heat distribution
  • Riveted (not screwed-on) handles that are oven safe
  • Good-fitting lids
  • Heavy enough for stability but not so heavy that it’s impractical to use

General cookware knowledge gained from experience

  • Non-stick coating isn’t necessary – or preferable – on every piece of cookware. Care must be taken when cooking with high heat because it can damage a non-stick coating. It’s recommended you don’t use heat higher than absolutely necessary when cooking in non-stick cookware.
  • While you could conceivably find a whole set that will meet your needs for a long time to come, most of the time, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward particular pans, wishing you had more of one kind and rarely if ever using others. For that reason, it’s best to buy your pans “open stock” (individually) so you can get the types and sizes that fit your specific needs.
  • There’s no simple answer as to the ideal pots and pans. The most important element to consider when choosing cookware is YOU – the type of cooking you do, the type of stove you use, how much care you’re willing to take with your pans and ultimately, your budget.

Knowing what constitutes quality cookware is the key to finding the right pan for the job – without wasting money on inferior cookware or pans you don’t need.

How do you choose quality cookware?

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