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Cookware Materials

The Skinny:

With the large variety of cookware materials available, it can be confusing to figure out which one is best for you. This guide will break down the most important qualities to consider when buying new cookware.

The How-To:

Three factors will play a big influence in your choice of cookware: your budget, the heat conductivity (how well a material heats up, cools down and distributes heat) and the material’s reactivity (some materials will react with acidic food which can discolor or damage the cookware). Comparing the following materials will give you a better sense of what you want in your new cookware.

Material Details Heat Conductivity Reactivity Price
Aluminum Raw aluminum is lightweight, strong and handles high temperatures well. Excellent Reactive Inexpensive
Anodized Aluminum Aluminum that has been treated to make it harder and nonreactive. Anodized aluminum has all of the pros of aluminum without its drawback. Most aluminum cookware on the market is anodized. Excellent Nonreactive Moderate
Cast Iron Durable and lasts a lifetime if well cared for. Needs to be seasoned before use. Heats slowly, but holds heat well, making it good for keeping food warm. Enameled (coated with porcelain) cast iron is a nonreactive option that doesn’t need to be seasoned. Good Reactive Inexpensive-moderate. Enameled cast iron can range from moderate – expensive.
Glass/Ceramic/Stone These materials are generally low stick and very versatile. These options generally do not work well with high heat and can break. Dishwasher safe. Poor - Good Stoneware is good at distributing heat. Glass is a poor heat conductor. Ceramic holds heat well. Nonreactive Inexpensive
Copper Has the best heat conductivity. Heats up and cools down fast. Reacts to everything, needs frequent polishing. Most copper cookware is lined with other materials because it’s so reactive. Does not work on induction cooktops. Excellent Reactive Expensive
Stainless Steel Durable and dishwasher safe. Because of conductivity issues, stainless steel cookware is usually lined or coated with other materials. Does not have nonstick properties. Often combined with other materials to compensate for poor heat conductivity. Poor Nonreactive Inexpensive – Moderate Construction of the cookware will affect the overall cost.

Because of the combinations and reactivity of metals used, people who are more health conscious may choose stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic cookware. These options haven’t been treated with as many chemicals as the other varieties.

No matter the materials, no matter the cost, make sure that your cookware inspires you to create new, delicious things for yourself and your loved ones. Until next time, Enthusiasts.

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