Tag Archives: cookware

Why The Pan You Cook In Matters

Different pans, made with different metals and alloys, can have a major effect on the outcome of cooking.

Why The Pan You Cook In Matters Pantree

Picture a man sitting in his comfortable chair reading the newspaper after work. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees his eye his wife approaching him with a fry pan and before he can move, she hits him over the head with it. Eyes bulging from his head, he says to his wife, why did you do that?  She holds his coat in her other hand, pulls out a piece of paper, holds it in front of him and says Who is Mary Sue. He immediately replies Ohhhhhhhh, honey dont you remember I went to the track last week and that was the name of the horse that I wanted to bet on so I wrote it down not to forget? 3 days go by, the man is reading the paper in his chair and sure enough his wife hits him again with the fry pan. He jumps up and says what are you doing? She looks at him, pauses, and says your horse just called.

I promised on my last blog after writing about slow cooking that I would talk a bit about cookware, and how and why the metals and finishes used in making cookware, can contribute in both positive and negative ways to a recipe and an overall cooking experience.

To my knowledge, there are 12 different metals that most manufacturers use when making cookware. Since this isn’t a thesis, we are briefly going to mention just 3: cast iron, stainless steel, & aluminum.

Le Creuset for example uses a cast enamel process that combines the heat conductivity from the cast iron and the heat retention from the enamel. Many manufacturers use an anodized aluminum or alloy to combine the same properties that just one metal alone can’t provide. The trick is to spread the heat while retaining it in an evenly distributed manner. Stainless bowls use a combo copper/aluminum bottom the way Reverware used to and still makes their cookware today.

Most higher end cookware companies, including Cuisanart , Caphalon, Le Crueset and premium 18/8 “waterless “ cookware (which is very expensive), design their cookware for slow cooking and even spreading of heat along the bottom, keeping the nutrients within the vessel, to maximize the flavor of the food. Conversely, carbon steel used for most Woks transfers the heat directly from the heat source to the food while keeping the heat inside the carbon steel. That is why when cooking in a Wok, it is recommended to stir/fry the food so that it doesn’t cook unevenly with hot spots.

I hope if you take anything away from this blog, it is that different kinds of cookware made with different metals and alloys can have a major effect on the outcome of cooking in general. It’s not just about what you’re putting in your body, it’s also about what you’re using to cook that food. Stay tuned for my next blog on organizing cookware, bakeware and kitchenware.