Cookware is a general term that we use to represent any cooking pot, such as a saucepan or frypan. These pots can be used on the stovetop, and/or in the oven. The definition of 'cookware' can extend to cover ethnic cooking implements such as woks, tagines and couscousiers.
The majority of cookware items are manufactured from different types of metal; however with technology improving all the time, there are now certain types of ceramics that are being used to manufacture cookware.
So now the question everybody wants to know the answer to...what is the best cookware? The answer is simple - there is no best cookware. The RIGHT cookware will depend entirely on what you expect to do with the cookware, and your preference for weight, colour, design and features.
At Your Habitat we stock many of the world's best cookware brands and our staff are trained to help you to decide which cookware is best for you. Feel free to call into any of our stores to learn which cookware is 'best' for you.
Why buy stainless steel cookware?
Stainless steel is a very hard and very durable metal made from the amalgamation of chrominum and nickel: to qualify as stainless steel the metal must contain at least 11.5 % chromium. Most stainless steel ware is made of 18 parts chromium to 8 parts nickel (known as 18/8 or, best of all for durability, rust resistance and retention of a polish or sheen, 18 parts chromium to 10 parts nickel (known as 18/10). Stainless steel is not a good heat conductor and with most pans this is overcome by giving them a base or a core in the base of another metal – usually aluminium or copper and occasionally copper and silver alloy. The hardness of the metal makes it difficult to either dent or warp stainless steel but food can stick and it is advised especially with a frying pan, that the heat is applied gradually and the temperature is kept low. Stainless steel is not corrosive and does not react to either acidic or alkaline foods.
How do I care for my stainless steel products?
Wash with detergent and a brush or nylon pad. Do not use steel wool or metal pads, as these will scratch the surface of the pan.
To retain a polish use a soft cloth and stainless steel cleaner.
Most pans are dishwasher proof; just check the handle.
If any food gets burnt on, soak the pan overnight and boil it up before cleaning.
Do not add salt to cold water or leave cold salty liquids in stainless steel pans as this can cause white spotting. If this does occur, remove marks with stainless steel cleaner.
Do not put a small pan on a large gas burner and then let the flames come up the side of the pan as this can cause the metal to become permanently discoloured.
Do not overheat or bluing may appear on the metal.
Hard water can sometimes deposit white chalk marks.
Bluing and white chalk marks can both be removed with a stainless steel or copper cleaner.
Either wooden or metal implements can be used.
Note: All stainless steel pans include all the best qualities of stainless steel and have a copper plate enclosed in the base. They are suitable for ceramic and solid hobs, but not for microwave cookers or induction cooking.
What is ‘Non-Stick’ cookware?
Non-stick surfaces are increasing in popularity worldwide, why? Probably because it is now available for the entire spectrum of cookware, from inexpensive pots and pans to top of the line products for the gourmet cook, including bake ware, frying pans, woks, paella pans, pressure cookers, small appliances and even outdoor grills.
High quality non-stick cookware surfaces have improved greatly and provided a pan is properly looked after there is no reason why it should not last for many years.
There are 2 main types:
a. Non-impregnated coatings. These are pans treated with a non-stick coating.
Non–stick coating give best results when combined with a thick gauge aluminium base.
b. Impregnated coatings. This recent development gives considerably greater durability. In these pans the porous surface of the aluminium base is impregnated with a ceramic non-stick material. The resulting surface gives excellent non-stick performance and great durability.
Non-Stick treated pans are not as good for crisping and browning but make possible cooking with little or no fat.
Never overheat a coated non-stick surface
Do not pre-heat to high temperature: always put the food into a warm, not hot pan.
Always use wooden or other ‘non-stick’ implements. Follow the manufacturers advice.
Wash, while still warm, with a detergent and a brush or nylon pad.
Do not use scouring pads or abrasive cleaners.
Heavy gauge pans are suitable for all types of hob. Not suitable for microwaves or induction cooking.
Impregnated non-stick pans (i.e Scanpan)
Metal utensils may be safely used. Before using fry pans for the first time ‘season’ by moderately heating pan then coating it with vegetable oil. Wipe out with paper towel after three or four minutes.
Burnt food can be loosened by covering it with water and a squeeze of detergent and then gently heating the pan to boiling point.
Do not clean in dishwasher.
What is cast iron cookware and how do I care for it?
Is very heavy and is used mainly for casseroles or frying pans. The casseroles are good for long slow cooking as they heat evenly all round and the metal will retain the heat for a considerable time after being removed from the stove.
Cast iron frying pans have excellent non-stick qualities and can be pre-heated to very high temperatures without fear of damage and so are excellent for cooking steak and browning, crisping or sautéing.
Before use plain cast iron needs seasoning; if this is not done the pan will be liable to rust and food will start sticking to it. However, a well seasoned casserole or frying pan that is properly cared for and re-seasoned as necessary, will build up a patina, which will after time be almost non-stick.
To season: Brush over the inside surface of the pot with a vegetable oil: don’t use sunflower or corn oil as they are inclined to be sticky. Heat the pan gently and leave it on a warm hob for 15-20 minutes. Wipe out the pan with a piece of kitchen paper the repeat the process for a second time.
After use wash the pan carefully with mild soap; avoid using detergents and do not put the pot into a dishwasher. Dry the pan, preferably in the oven. If the seasoned surface starts to wear re-season in the same way.
Cast iron tends to be brittle, and if dropped can break.
Cast iron must be seasoned before use.
Dry on the stove and oil well if stored for any length of time.
Avoid washing, clean by wiping out with kitchen paper.
Suitable for all types of hob including induction when base is ground flat.
Not suitable for microwave cooking.
Enamelled Cast Iron (e.g. Le Crueset)
The vitreous enamel surface is powdered glass that is fused onto the cast iron. These pans have the same even heat properties of plain cast iron but the enamel makes them easy to keep and the pans do not need seasoning. The surface of the enamel is impervious and it is perfectly safe to leave in the pot and once cool refrigerate it with its contents.
The white interior of an enamelled cast iron pot will darken with use especially when wine is used, but this is natural. Stains can be removed with a weak bleach solution, but this is not recommended as bleach can etch the surface of the enamel and lead to further staining.
If the pot is knocked or dropped the enamel can chip. Do not use a pan that has a chipped interior. It is not possible to re-enamel chipped pans.
Do not overheat or heat the pan when empty of the enamel may craze and then chip.
Wash the pans with detergent and a soft pad, but avoid using anything abrasive as the surface can be scratched or damaged.
If food is stuck on, soak the pan for half an hour and remove the softened food with wooden spoon.
Pans with ground and flat cast bases are suitable for all hobs including induction. Not suitable for microwaves. Your Habitat strongly recommends Le Creuset cast iron cookware.
What pans can be used on induction cooktops?
Most pots and pans, provided they have a flat base can be used on any type of hob other than induction. For a pan to heat on an induction hob it must have a ferrous base (i.e. a base to which a magnet will stick): this means that the pans must be plain steel, enamelled steel or cast iron. Some stainless steel pans have a special base to make them suitable for an induction hob but most would not be suitable. Glass, aluminium and copper are unsuitable.
What products can I safely use in my microwave oven?
Metal utensils must not be used in a microwave oven. Ceramic and toughened glass are suitable but if decorated, check that the glazes do not contain any metallic substances. We recommend using plain white porcelain, like Pillivuyt or toughened Borcam glass for use in the microwave.