Choosing The Right Cookware

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I am a housewife to a chef and both of us love to cook and spend most of our time in the kitchen. We are strong believers that great food is not just based on the quality of the ingredients, but also the cooking equipment. However as a newly wed with one full-timer, we are forced to be sensible in spending our money. Due to that reason we started off by purchasing pans and pots from nearby homeware store.

Photography by Scott Umstattd

Six months later I started noticing tiny scratches here and there and for AUD100 worth of pans I was not happy with the situation. At first I was thinking maybe I did not follow the care instruction properly. I gave one more try and bought cookware from different homeware store.

Five months later and again I was haunted by another problem. This time, all the food that I cook was sticked to my “supposedly” non-stick pan. With a heavy heart and lesser budget I jumped to the front of my computer and started my cookware research, and this is what I found:

The Danger of Scratch in Cookware

A tiny scratch in your non-stick pan should alarm you right on and the best thing to do is to dispose of them. The food will more likely to stick in a scratched cookware as the non-stick coating removed the pan. These coatings release toxic compounds and it is highly dangerous when flaked to food. Moreover, it is unsafe for a non-stick pan to be used in high temperature as it releases chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Exposure to this acid can cause severe health issues such as; effect on immune system, thyroids and liver, cholesterol level, and extremely dangerous for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. According to the research conducted by American Cancer Society, PFOA links to numerous cancers, for instance; ovarian, testicular, kidney, thyroid, and prostate cancer.

The Best Cookware

1.Cast Iron

Photography by Teddy Kelley

One of my favourite cookware is cast iron. It is durable and will never scratch. I recommend using a well-known traditional cast iron brand, Lodge. Joseph Lodge in Tennessee founded Lodge in 1896 and since, it has been the best and oldest cast iron brand in the market. There are multiple benefits of using cast iron. Cast iron is a great source of iron as it releases and adds iron to the food; make this cookware a perfect choice for people who have iron deficiency. This cookware gives the best result of cooking as it delivers even and consistent heating. Cast iron will not scratch as it is naturally non-stick when seasoned well. It is built to last and very difficult to completely ruin.

In the other hand, there are some disadvantages of using cast iron. Firstly for a good quality cast iron, the price can be expensive, starts from AUD19- AUD399. Secondly it is very heavy with weight up to 5kg for 30cm skillet. It needs constant seasoning to prevent it from being rustic. This means to clean is to use coarse kosher salt with warm water and not soap. The next step is to rub with flaxseed oil and put it in oven in 205’C for 45 minutes. Afterwards set aside to cool before gently pat any excess oil and store it. This seasoning process can take times and can be seen as one of the drawbacks for busy professionals. Additionally, it is not recommended to cook acidic food, such as tomato in cast iron as it creates metallic flavour and turn the food colour to brown.

2. Stainless Steel

Photography by Adam Dachis

This French-made cookware’s virtues are resistance to corrosion, scratch, and stain or denting. This cookware does not leach metallic components and it will not affect on the flavour of the foods.

When buying stainless steel, it is best to choose the best quality for the best performance. High quality of stainless steel holds heat consistently. Stainless steel is very easy to clean, with warm soapy water and ¼ cup of vinegar can remove any traces of food. Another tip before cleaning, it is best to wait until the cookware is cool down before rinsing it. The reason behind this is, sudden change of heat can cause metal to warp in stainless steel.

3. Carbon Steel

Photography by Clem Onojeghuo

Carbon steel is surpassing versatile, you can cook anything with great results, from simple stir-fry to crisping up duck skin. Carbon steel is pretty similar to cast iron, however, carbon steel is lighter in weight. It requires before and after use seasoning – the best oil to use is grape seed oil, it retains heat well, it is oven-safe, naturally non- stick and last for a long time. The price is cheaper than cast iron and stainless steel.

4. Enamelled Cast Iron / Dutch Oven

Photography by Charles

Enamelled cast iron is another must have cookware. I recommend French brand called Staub. It is one of the finest cookware in the market. Staub has great thermal mass that will keep the food warm after its cooked. Furthermore the thickness of its ceramic thick make this cookware hard to chip. There is no need to season enamelled cast iron as it is compacted with tough coating on the inside’s surface. What is more, this inside’s make this cookware non-reactive to acidic food. Enamelled cast iron hold heats perfectly and can be used in oven. It is easy to clean just with warm and soapy water. The price is more expensive than traditional cast iron, up to AUD1,000.

Payment Options

These cookware can be very pricy, however, there are online homeware websites that offers sensible price. My favourite is Catch, not just because they sell this cookware with fairly cheap price but also they offer various payment options such as Zippay and Afterpay. Zippay offers up to AUD1,000 credit with monthly repayment as low as AUD40. In the other hand, Afterpay breaks down the full amount to four times repayments every fortnightly.

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