Cooking is not just about making food edible to satisfy your hunger or cravings. It is about the experience and this has a lot to do with the cookware you choose to use.
Pans in particular are versatile and can be used to fry, sear, or even steam. Of course, there are many options in the market, which leaves you with the question; which is the best pan for cooking?
We put this guide together to help sharpen your shopping skills so go ahead and make the most out of it.
The Buying Guide For Pan
You need to think about several factors before settling for a particular pan or pan set. By so doing, you get to narrow down your choices and pick something that will serve you as expected.
Let us get right into it, shall we?
Coating vs. Cladding
As you embark on your shopping journey for the best pots and pans, you will come across terms like hard-coat anodized which is another way of telling you that a soft surface has been transformed into a hard surface.
Another common term will be cladding which refers to metal layers fused to make up a pan. It may also mean that the manufacturer of the pan added material to its base to improve heat transfer.
You need to familiarize yourself with such terms so that you know exactly what you are getting.
It is important to consider how your new pan will sit on top of your stovetop. Flat-bottomed pans are more popular because they will sit securely on most modern cooktops.
On the other hand, round-bottomed pans will require a vented ring that is placed on top of a cooktop to hold the pan in place.
As such, you want to decide whether you want to invest in that ring and use it every time you cook or simply buy a flat-bottomed pan and cook directly.
It is common to shop online but if possible, you want to go into a cookware retailer and pick up the pan you intend to buy just to see how it feels in your hands.
If it is heavy, just know that it will be heavier with food inside. This is usually common with cast iron pans. Now, a heavier pan comes with its advantages but if you want to have an easier time lifting yours or tossing and flipping food, you may want to go for a lightweight option like carbon steel.
Lids and Handles
Some pans come with lids and it is even better when the lids are transparent because that not only facilitates cooking methods like steaming and simmering, it also allows you to monitor your food without opening.
As far as the handles, you want them to be comfortable to hold and not transmit any heat. The last thing you want is to accidentally burn your hands when lifting the pan.
Let us now look at some of the common materials used in the making of pans so that you can decide which one will suit you best.
Aluminum- Aluminum is a great heat conductor but that is not the only thing it has to offer. It is lightweight and reasonably priced. That translates to evenly cooked food, easy handling, and value for your money.
However, the material is prone to staining which means it can discolor your food and make it bitter. If you have to get an aluminum pan, get one that is coated to avoid such.
Stainless Steel– This material is classic and resilient hence the ideal choice for braising and browning your food. It is often sold in sets so most times, you will be getting value for your money when you decide to buy stainless steel cookware.
On the flip side, stainless steel is harder to clean so you may want to go the coated way here.
Nonstick-If you are looking for pans that will stand the test of time as well as release your food effortlessly, a nonstick pan will suffice.
You also will not have to use a lot of oil for cooking making nonstick the best cookware material for health.
However, this material tends to scratch especially when used alongside metallic utensils.
Enameled Cast Iron– This material is great for frying, browning, sautéing, and searing. Other than that, pans made from cast iron transition effortlessly from the kitchen to the dining room.
Although the material heats up, slowly, it makes up for the same by retaining heat well. What this means is that with a cast iron pan, your food remains warmer for longer.
The only concern here is that the material is quite heavy making maneuverability an issue.
Carbon Steel– Professional chefs swear by carbon steel and understandably so because the material is not only durable, it is also efficient and lightweight hence ideal for high-performance cooking.
Carbon steel pans can be used on any kind of cooktop and are easy to clean.
The only thing you need to worry about the material is that it tends to rust and has to be seasoned often. If you do not have the time to do that, or you simply do not want to, you may want to continue looking.
Copper– With a copper pan, you will be enjoying uniformly cooked food because the material distributes heat evenly. You can sauté, sear, fry, and even simmer your food with such a pan. You also get to save time since the material heats up quickly.
Nevertheless, the material is a bit on the costlier side and it is susceptible to denting. It is also reactive but can be lined with non-reactive metals like stainless steel or tin to make it safe to cook in.
Cooking is an art so experimenting with cookware and cooking methods is allowed. If you are in the market for the perfect pan for different cooking methods you want to consider several features before buying one.
This guide provides you with all the information you need to make the right choice. Don’t sleep on that.