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Thick metal construction is an indicator of a quality cookware.
Copper, anodised aluminium, and stainless steel clad cookware performs best.
Nonstick surfaces require less oil and clean easier, but may not brown as well as metal.*
Stainless steel handles remain relatively cool, are sturdy and versatile.
The ideal starter set will include a pan for frying, a stewpot, and at least two saucepans.
Purchase only what you need, as unused pans are a waste of money.
*For further information on cleaning different types of cookware, refer to our Cookware Cleaning Guide.
Good Quality Cookware is Vital
It seems silly to us to assert the importance of cookware. Cooking would be impossible without it. Taking a step beyond the obvious, we would like to state that we believe good cookware is essential for any serious cook. Good cookware gives you control over your food, allows you to maintain ideal temperatures, and enhances the flavour of your dishes. Poor cookware can ruin food and make the time you spend in the kitchen miserable.
No kitchen is complete without a basic set of quality cookware. Here at Kitchen Warehouse, we stock different cookware sets from Anolon, Baccarat, Chasseur, Circulon, Cuisinart, Essteele, Jamie Oliver, Raco, Scanpan, Silit, and Tefal. The best way to acquire a variety of pots and pans is by investing in a set. Because you are buying multiple pieces at the same time, you will spend less money than you would buying the pieces individually. With quality as a guiding principle, the only decision you have to make is what set best suits your needs. We would like to offer some guidelines to help you choose.
Types of Construction
The most important characteristic of any piece of cookware is its ability to efficiently deliver heat. While thickness of a pot or pan is a good indicator of its ability to cook evenly, the materials from which it is made can give you an accurate idea of how it will perform. As a rule, thin cookware should be avoided entirely as it will develop hot spots that result in uneven cooking and burning. This being said, cookware today is made in a number of standard ways.
The best cookware is made from copper and is very expensive. Copper is exceptionally responsive to the flame and gives you superb control. It is also toxic, reactive, and corrodes easily, so must be lined with another metal to be suitable for cooking. We believe copper cookware is unnecessary for everyday use, but it can be ideal for a few applications.
Aluminium cookware is strong, lightweight, and heat conductive, but also chemically reactive. Solid aluminium cookware will alter the taste of foods that are acidic, basic, or contain eggs, and will pit in contact with salt. We recommend avoiding it entirely. On the other hand, anodised aluminium, an electrochemically treated aluminium, is an excellent material for cookware. It is nonreactive, non-stick, and heats fast and evenly. We recommend anodised aluminium pans highly.
Solid stainless steel alone cooks poorly. When equipped with a thick aluminium or copper base, however, it can perform admirably. A nonporous, nonreactive stainless steel surface browns food readily, enhancing flavour. These pots pans are acceptable for everyday applications, but you should ensure the base extends the entire width of the pan or it will develop hot spots around the edges.
Our top recommendation for cookware are constructed from layered aluminium or copper cores and clad entirely in stainless steel. These pans are relatively affordable, cook evenly, and are quite responsive to the flame. As a bonus, they will also work with induction ranges, ranges that heat with electromagnetic fields.
Enamel coated cast iron cookware is great for braising, sauteing, griddling, and simmering. They are durable, nonreactive, and provide steady even heat. However, they are not very responsive and are therefore not suitable for more delicate tasks. If you are considering enameled cookware, be sure it is heavily coated as thin enamel will chip and crack in time.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase nonstick cookware will rely on your personal preference.
Nonstick surfaces have their advantages and their disadvantages. On the plus side, they are easy to clean and require less oil than traditional pans to prevent sticking. On the downside, the surfaces can be delicate and they do not generally promote browning as well as metal surfaces.
Although innovations have made Teflon coatings more durable than ever, Teflon will release highly toxic vapourss if heated above 350°C. Empty Teflon coated pans should never be left heating over a burner. Inexpensive coated pans will scratch and flake easily and should be avoided altogether.
Anodised aluminium pans are nontoxic and scratch resistant. They tend to stick more than coated pans, but they do a better job of searing and browning and are hard enough to be used with metal utensils. Some manufacturers use an anodised aluminium that has been electrochemically 'infused' with non-stick polymers or coated with revolutionary ceramics to create more efficient non-stick surfaces. We recommend any of these as they are durable and effective.
A good handle must be strong, sturdy, and remain cool to the touch. Wooden handles provide the best grip, but are not oven safe and therefore limit the versatility of your cookware. Plastic handles can withstand oven temperatures up to 250C, but may melt under a broiler. Stainless steel is a poor conductor and long handles made from stainless steel are oven safe will remain cool for a good amount of time. We prefer hollow or wider stainless steel handles for their versatility, but we also keep a potholder on hand at all times.
Handles that have been riveted to the side of a pan are strong and durable, but the rivets may be difficult to clean around and can loosen in time with heavy use. Handles that have been permanently bonded to or forged from the same piece of metal as the cookware are ideal as they will never fail. We suggest avoiding handles that have been spot welded or attached to the cookware by means of a screw system as they will loosen easily and may break entirely.
What's in a Cookware Set?
The most important things to consider when choosing a set of cookware are your needs. Larger cookware sets are usually a steal, but we don't see any sense in purchasing pots or pans that will never be used. Different types of cookware of one material will often perform better than others for specific tasks. We recommend that the average home cook invest in a basic set of all purpose cookware and fill in the gaps with quality specialty pieces as needed. Here are the pans we consider essential for every kitchen, the ideal starter set:
A saute pan or skillet — these you will use for sauteing, pan frying, braising, and more. They both have wide, flat bottoms and can be used for the same applications. You will want one between 20 and 25 cm in diameter for maximum versatility.
A stewpot or stockpot — these you will use for boiling and cooking food in quantity. Some sets offer large Dutch ovens that can be used in the same way, but offer the advantage of being suitable for oven cooking as well.
Saucepans — these you will use for making sauces, heating soups, steaming rice, and more. These pans will see the most use in your kitchen, so we recommend choosing a set that offers two of different sizes for versatility.
Other smaller sets may offer a griddle in place of a stewpot, or a wok in place of a skillet. Other sets may just include a variety of saucepans. Manufacturers offers sets to meet the demands of every kitchen. We suggest you purchase only what you need and you never skimp on quality.