If you’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about your kitchen gadgets, you might be surprised to discover the material of your pans will greatly affect not just your cooking experience, but also the flavor and texture of your food.
Those just beginning their cooking adventures might feel a bit overwhelmed when trying to figure out which set of cookware they should get. If that describes you, this guide hopes to provide some guidance to help you through your explorations of the vast and wondrous culinary world.
What is Stainless Steel Cookware?
The most expensive of all three options explored in this article, stainless steel ports and pans are often highly regarded among cooks not just for their elegant modern appearance, but also for their resilience. A good stainless steel cookware can last for well over a decade, making a worthwhile investment in the eyes of its fans. This is a cookware that does rust or corrode easily, making it ideal for busy kitchens or homes with large family gatherings.
Stainless steel also tends to heat up faster than other types of cookware and be better at handling high heat.
That being said, stainless steel cookware can also be difficult to clean. Though dishwasher safe, they are not nonstick, and cleaning them by hand might require more effort. Another big disadvantage of its nonstick surface is that it will require to be greased with oil or butter, making your dishes unhealthier by adding both calories and fat.
Finally, it is important to remember that stainless steel is not a great heat conductor. If made cheaply and with little care, stainless steel products can leads to uneven cooking, making it harder for newbies to prepare their food properly. For this reason, professional chefs will often opt for the pricier options that are designed to prevent hotspots.
What is Ceramic Cookware?
Ceramic cookwares are a great option for home cooks not only due to their affordability, but due to their nonstick nature. Made out of natural materials, ceramic products can also come in a wide variety of colors.
This type of cookware also tends to take a lot of time to absorb heat, doing so less quantities than stainless steel. This makes it ideal for foods that need to be prepared on a low heat.
Naturally nonstick, these cookwares tend to be easier to clean than stainless steel, and most of them are also dishwasher safe. This nonstick nature also means you do not have to grease the surface of pans or pots with butter or oil, making your dishes healthier.
Where this equipment falls short when compared to stainless steel is in regards to maintenance and durability. While not necessarily fragile, ceramic is easier to break and scratch, and if the damage is serious enough, it will make the cookware useless. Low quality and thin ceramic pots and pans are especially bad for this reason, for a simple chip will prevent heat from being conducted properly.
Lastly, a big drawback of ceramic cookware when compared to stainless steel ones is that though stainless steel can be used with any kind of utensils, only wooden, nylon, or silicone ones are recommended for ceramic.
What is Nonstick Cookware?
It is important to differentiate between nonstick and ceramic cookware. While the latter can also claim nonstick status, it does so due to the natural properties of ceramic rather than an added chemical coating.
Most products advertised as nonstick are made of aluminum and contain a coating of Tenflon, which is made from polymerized tetrafluoroethylene (PTEE). Though organic, this coating is not recommended to be used in the kitchen, for it is considered to be toxic when exposed to high temperature.
Tenflon is also not scratch-resistant, and it may easily peel or wear off with time, leading to the metal and other chemicals to mix with the food you’re preparing.
The advantages of this type of cookware include its price, its light weight, and its easy-to-clean nature, making it a go-to option for those with a tight budget.
So Which One is Right for Me?
As with most home gadgets, equipment, and appliances, the right type of cookware will depend highly on your lifestyle and your budget. That being said, though they are incredibly affordable, it would be wiser to avoid nonstick cookware due to the toxicity issues related to Tenflon.
Between ceramic and stainless steel, however, the answer will depend highly on what type of foods you enjoy preparing, your budget, and your patience for cleaning. As a rule of thumb, consider stainless steel the premium option, with high quality sets being the ideal choice; if bought right, these will last you decades.
That being said, ceramics are also a beautiful option that, though might not last as long, its nonstick surface require less oil and butter, resulting in healthier meals.
At the end of the day, only you know what is best suited for your lifestyle and your budget, but if you’re interested in trying out different types of dishes, perhaps a mixture of both types will offer you plenty of versatility to suite your culinary adventures.
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