Investing Quality Cookwares for Everyday Benefits
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Published by TOP4 Team
Cooking can be a pleasure when you’ve got the right equipment — and a downright headache when you don’t. So if your sauces are sticking and your soup keeps bubbling over, it might be time to consider an upgrade.
Top-quality cookware can come with a hefty price tag, but it’s an investment worth making. A $10 pan might seem to do the job, but you would be surprised at how much better food tastes, and how much easier it is to cook and clean up afterwards, if you have great cookware.
Cookware has undergone a serious style makeover in recent years. A quick browse of any kitchenware specialist or department store will reveal a bevy of bold paintbox hues to help brighten even the plainest of kitchens, as well as ranges in sophisticated chocolate browns and charcoals that will perfectly complement your timber cabinetry.
There are also snazzy multi-functional styles, such as Eva Solo’s three-in-one Gravity pans that boast an integrated colander, standing lid and steam vent and, of course, a raft of classic stainless steel, copper and cast-iron designs.
Looks aside, the right cookware needs to perform well. It should be strong and durable, offer good heat retention, prevent hot spots, feature heatproof handles, and it should work on all heating surfaces. It needs to be dishwasher safe, stackable, and have cooktop-to-oven capabilities. A tempered glass lid is a bonus as you can monitor the progress of your cooking without lifting it. A steam vent is also important as it allows excess steam to escape so your pan will not bubble over.
A decent, average-sized saucepan costs $70-$130, and the key to avoiding an expensive mistake is to consider your needs carefully. Ask yourself, “What do you really want — hassle-free convenience or non-stick? The look and performance of stainless steel?” Also consider your budget, what you cook, and whether you want a matching set or to introduce a touch of colour to your kitchen.
Another important consideration is the heating type. If you have an induction cooktop, which works by producing a magnetic field above the glass surface, you’ll need induction-safe cookware, which has a metal base that can be magnetised (look for the induction-compatible symbol on the pan’s base).
There are several different cookware materials to choose from, each suited to different cooking styles. Stainless steel, often featuring a thick aluminium or copper base, is very durable, suitable for all heat sources, metal-utensil safe and easy to clean, plus it won’t rust, chip or break. Quality 18/10 stainless-steel pans are expensive but lasts a lifetime.
Hard-anodised pans have a smooth, scratch-resistant surface that’s twice as hard as stainless steel. It’s durable and offers great heat conduction and retention — perfect for keeping rice warm. Not all styles are suitable for induction. Cost-wise, they’re similar to stainless steel.
Non-stick cookware is great for low-fat cooking as you need little or no oil to stop food sticking, plus it’s affordable and easy to clean. On the downside, it scratches won’t brown meat as well as metal, and isn’t always induction-compatible. Some non-stick coatings also contain perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOAs), which do not break down in the environment and can persist for a long time, accumulating to levels that could be harmful. If this is a concern for you, seek out some of the newer, non-stick PFOA free cookware.
If you’re looking for pans that are great for slow cooking, cast-iron may be your best choice. Cast iron absorbs and retains heat to keep food hot. It’s also tough, long-lasting, and suitable for all cooktop types. Enamel-coated styles are rust-resistant and easier to clean and maintain than traditional cast iron. Bear in mind, however, that cast iron is heavy and its traditional look might not be best suited at contemporary kitchens.
If you want stunning, heirloom-quality pans and budget isn’t a concern, consider copper. Copper are one of the best conductors of heat, which is why it’s a favourite of chefs. Heat spreads quickly and evenly throughout a copper pan, and cools quickly when the stove is turned down, giving unparalleled temperature control. But copper isn’t induction-cooktop compatible.
At the end of the day, cookware is something you use daily and should last for years, so do your research and buy the best you can afford.