When it comes to selection of cookware, the good news is that it comes in a variety of materials, and you will have a selection of products to choose from. The downside of this is that choosing the right cookware for your kitchen can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the various properties and uses of the different types of cookware available on the market.
The following guide will take you through some of the most commonly used cookware materials in Australian kitchens.
Cast iron handles heat remarkably – it heats up slowly, but is also slow to lose the heat. This property makes cast iron an ideal material for cookware, such as fry pans, grill pans, ovens, etc., which require self-regulation of heat. Cookware made from cast iron is outstandingly sturdy and resists warping, scratching, chipping and denting.
Cast iron cookware comes in its natural state or it can be enamel coated. Both varieties cook the same way, though there are some notable differences. Natural cast iron is the cheaper option and it provides a fantastically nonstick interior surface. However, it needs rustproofing to prevent potential rusting.
Cookware made with enameled cast iron, on the other hand, is completely non-reactive and offers excellent resistance to rusting. These pieces are almost maintenance free and boast of having strikingly good-looking coloured glazes. These benefits are, of course, responsible for their higher price tags.
All cast iron cookware are generally suited for baking, searing, frying, roasting and stove-to-oven recipes.
Stainless steel is a durable choice of cookware material, thanks to its non-reactive nature and incredible resistance to corrosion, staining, scratching and denting. Stainless steel is also revered for its ability to remain stable when subjected to extremely high temperatures.
It is, however, worth noting that stainless steel may not be able to effectively maintain uniform temperatures over the entire surface of the cookware. To compensate for this shortcoming, some manufacturers incorporate an aluminium or copper core into the interior surface of stainless steel cookware.
Stainless steel cookware is typically used for searing, braising, sautéing and making sauces.
Ceramic is one of the latest non-stick surface materials used in the realm of cookware. It is not the most durable cookware materials, but it is widely regarded as the safest option available, thanks to its non-metallic nature. It comes in an extensive range of styles and colours. However, it does not work so well under intense heat, as this will degrade its nonstick qualities. Another notable drawback of ceramic cookware is that it scratches easily, so you should avoid using metallic utensils– instead use wooden or plastic ones.
Ceramic cooking surfaces are ideal for preparing foods that stick easily, e.g. fried eggs and fish fillet.