WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN COOKING UTENSILS/VESSELS
While pots and pans are basic pieces of equipment in every kitchen, choosing them is far from simple! There are a wide range of materials and gauges to choose from including stainless steel, or copper: no-stick or conventional surfaces: and residential versus commercial-style. The prices for a basic 7-10 piece set range from $50 to well over $500. So while the choices are many (and the confusion), the kind of cookware you choose depends on how you cook.
Many pieces of cookware are multi-purpose, but some have special advantages. A skillet with flared sides makes sautéing and flipping omelets easy. A straight-sided skillet is better suited for frying. A tall pot is good for making soups, stews, and pasta. A wide pot lets you cook the previous dishes and also brown meats, then cook them in the oven.
The first non-sticks coatings, introduced more than 30 years ago, were thin and scratched easily. Non-sticks today still have limitations. Most shouldn’t be used be used with metal utensils or with very high heat, but they have greatly improved. Non-stick finishes are good for cooking sticky foods like rice; non-sticks are also good for low-fat cooking.
Solid metal handles can be awkward but are sturdy. Solid or hollow metal handles can get hot, but are able to go from stovetop to oven. Lightweight plastic handles don’t get as hot, but can’t go into a high heat oven. Wooden handles stay cool but aren’t dishwasher safe and may also burn in a hot oven.
Heavy pans are often sturdy, but are hard for some people to maneuver. Before you purchase any item, pick them up and imagine how it would feel with the extra weight of food in it.
It is imperative to have a good quality, flat bottomed cookware, especially when using electric cooking surfaces. A bottom that is concave or convex will not make proper contact, therefore, will not heat properly and may even wobble on the burner surface. A triple-ply (or higher) construction is recommended for gas surface cooking.