The convenience, durability, and safety of cookware depend largely on the materials from which it is made. Let me tell you about the five most reliable materials for cookware.
Cast iron cookware has a high heat capacity and can withstand extremely high temperatures on the stove, in the oven, in the grill and even over an open fire. It cools down slowly and retains the temperature of cooked food for a long time. While in service, cast-iron cookware absorbs molecules of oil and fat into its porous structure, forming a patina – a natural non-stick layer.
Cast-iron skillets and grill pans are suitable for frying steaks: meat is quickly “sealed” with a crispy crust, while remaining juicy and soft on the inside. In the pots you can stew meat and vegetables, cook thick soups and stews, they also bake bread. It is believed that the best pan for pancakes – cast-iron: on it the pancakes are baked, lacy, ruddy and easy to remove.
Modern cast-iron cookware comes in two varieties: classic uncoated and enameled. Unenamelled cookware is tricky to care for, it can get rusty, you can’t marinate food in it or store cooked food because the metal can oxidize, but some foodies say that unenamelled cast iron gives the food a special unique flavor. A thin inner layer of glass enamel protects cast iron cookware from rust, without preventing the formation of a patina, while the outer layer – usually colored – makes it bright and beautiful.
The disadvantages of cast iron cookware include its heavy weight and peculiarities of care. It cannot be washed in dishwashers, as aggressive detergents wash away the patina. Enameled dishes should not be rubbed with metal sponges and hard sponges, so as not to damage the coating. After washing, the product must be wiped dry and lubricated with a thin layer of vegetable oil. However, these disadvantages are paid off by the durability of the cookware – if properly and carefully care for it, it will last for decades.
Stainless steel cookware has many advantages: it is strong, durable, does not rust, heats quickly, looks stylish. The leading manufacturers produce steel cookware with a thick multi-layer bottom, which allows it to heat evenly and retain heat for a long time. On the surface of stainless steel pots do not form pores and cracks, which can accumulate bacteria. This material does not affect the taste and color of food, does not react with food acids.
Stainless steel cookware is durable and easy to care for. Quality pots and pans with proper care and use will last more than a dozen years.
Stainless steel pans are suitable for frying meat and steaks, stewing and stewing meat, poultry and vegetables, while saucepans are suitable for cooking soups and broths, morsels and compotes. Tender sauces and custards can be made in small steel pots. Stainless steel is also used for pressure cookers, saucepans, woks, tagines, tea pots and many other kitchen utensils.
Due to its smooth polish, stainless steel cookware is easy to clean with a soft sponge. It can also be washed in dishwashers.
Ceramics and porcelain
Cookware made of ceramic and porcelain is environmentally friendly and has excellent thermal conductivity. The undeniable advantage of ceramic and porcelain tableware is its attractive appearance, which allows you to serve ready-made meals in it. These materials are used to produce dishes for baking, pots and pans, special forms for baking homemade bread and pizza.
However, ceramic and porcelain dishes can be destroyed by temperature shock, chipping and cracking, so do not pour hot dishes with cold water, and when you put them in the dishwasher, you need to ensure a secure fit – this will protect the product from damage.
Until recently, the drawback of ceramic cookware was its incompatibility with induction cooktops. French company Emile Henry solved this problem by introducing a line of ceramic cookware for induction hobs called Delight.
Quality cookware, made of dense non-porous ceramic and coated with a glaze, is quite durable: it will last for about five years or even longer. It should not be rubbed with metal sponges and hard brushes – this can damage the glaze. Ceramic dishes can be washed in the dishwasher, as well as by hand – a soft sponge or sponge.
What’s the best material for plates
The list of safe materials for plates, bowls, salad bowls looks like this:
- Porcelain – high-grade ceramics made from kaolin (white clay). Porcelain dishes do not emit any harmful substances, and throughout the entire thickness, which means that it is safe even if there are chips and cracks.
- Porcelain is the cheaper equivalent of porcelain. More porous and lightweight, it also contains no hazardous impurities. Earthenware and porcelain dishes are recommended for everyday use and are perfectly safe.
- Clay does not only come in white. Plates and bowls made of brown clay are safe, as are other ceramic tableware. They do not react with acidic and spicy foods, cold and hot food.
- Glass is another eco-friendly material that is harmless to health. Modern glassware is very diverse in design and looks good with other materials. Heat-resistant and impact-resistant glass is on sale.
- Wood has gained popularity in the market with bamboo bowls and plates. Wooden dishes are afraid of moisture, but are suitable for dry foods: nuts, hard fruits and vegetables, bread and pastries, some salads.
It is impossible to say which material is better for plates – you can choose any of the listed. They are all made of natural and safe raw materials.
Nuance: remember the basic rules of choice and beware of dishes with brightly painted and dubious glaze. Buy brands that have been tested, ask for certificates and don’t be tempted by an extremely low price.
What’s the safest cookware for cooking
The list of safe materials for pots, pans, and multicookers looks like this
- Stainless steel. About 90 percent of the pots and pans available at conventional and online cookware stores are made of it. It stands up equally well to open flames, oven heat and gentle heating in multicookers and aerogrills. Unscrupulous manufacturers often add toxic impurities such as nickel. Steel itself is one of the safest materials.
- Titanium is a lightweight material with high nonstick properties. Titanium cookware is suitable for multicookers and ovens. When cooked over an open flame, it can release titanium dioxide, a substance with a carcinogenic effect.
- Enameled cookware is inexpensive and environmentally friendly as long as the enamel integrity is not compromised. Pots and pans with chips should not be used, because toxic substances from the metal get into the food.
- Cast iron pots and pans are hypoallergenic, non-toxic and very durable.
- Heat-resistant glass is another neutral material. Glass cookware is safe for both cooking and storing food.
- Silicone remains safe from -40 to +250°C, making it completely versatile. Silicone molds can be baked, frozen, heated in the microwave, etc.
- Clay is a material that we have already noted as safe for plates. It is also suitable for cooking.
Do not buy dishes with a pungent odor (especially silicone), bright unnatural colors (enamel and glass are often “guilty” of this). Ordering tableware in an online store, where you can’t check the smell, ask for certificates confirming the safety of the material.
How to choose a set of tableware for events and hikes
An interesting question: what material is better to buy tableware for eating at a picnic or in the office? Disposable tableware has long been used at events. They’re loved for their lightness, ability to not wash but just throw away, and low price. Is all disposable tableware safe?
The best option is considered to be cookware made of thick paper. It comes in laminated and plain. Uncoated dishes are environmentally friendly and recyclable. Laminated paper is more difficult to dispose of because of the polyethylene coating, but it is stronger, does not get soaked, and is less hot.
Plastic utensils are safe if labeled with a fork and a glass. This means that the plastic is food-grade, without harmful impurities. Pay attention also to the marking of the material. PS – polystyrene, suitable only for cold dishes. In contact with hot food can be toxic. PP – polypropylene, safe at all temperatures.
If the pot has a multi-layer bottom and the handles are metal, you can boil, roast, stew, and bake in the pot. It is better if the composition is cast aluminum, steel, and stone chips. Such a bottom perfectly distributes heat: you can fry steaks without oil at maximum heat, and nothing will burn.
If you cook on an induction stove or glass ceramic, get a pot with a perfectly flat and stable bottom. For copper or aluminum pots, there are special steel discs for the bottom to cook on induction stoves.
When you choose several different pots, it’s a good idea to make sure they fit inside each other so they’re easier to store.
If you often cook and reheat food for a child, get a saucepan or a small ladle with a handle. You can handle it even with one hand, and you can hold your baby with the other.
Transparent lid will help to keep track of the dish: you do not need to lift it every 5 minutes. But the glass must be very strong, to withstand shocks and high temperatures.
The handles of the lid and the pot itself are best made of steel: they do not melt and are not afraid of high temperatures, with them you can heat a dish in the oven.
Removable handles are also very convenient: pots take up less space, you can put them in the oven.