If you are considering buying some new pans for your kitchen, it is well worth spending some time weighing up the pros and cons of the different types of cookware and which type is best for the type of cooking you do. Interestingly, many people seek out shops selling commercial grade cookware – not because they want larger sized pans but because these pans are destined for lots of hard work in commercial kitchens so have been tested for durability and heat consistency which are popular key points for domestic cooks too!
When you are looking at cooking pans, do check that you are looking at the correct size pan for your cooker as pans that are too large are difficult to heat evenly and those that are too small will get extremly hot handles which will be directly over the heat.
Aluminium pans look smart and are reasonably priced to buy. Aluminium heats and cools quickly making the pans a good choice for cooks in a hurry! Aluminium pans are lighter in weight too which can be a great advantage if you have lots of cooking to do but the handles can get really hot really fast so it is worth looking for aluminium pans with heat resistant handles. Most aluminium pans can be used in the dishwasher.
The main negative with aluminium pans is that the metal can be degraded by acid and can leach into food. It is bad to cook acidic or highly salted food in aluminium pans unless the pans have been anodized which certainly makes them tougher and also eradicates any problems about cooking these foods. Aluminium pans can distort when subject to high temperatures and can scratch easily, but again, anodised aluminium is tougher and more resistent to scratches..
The degrading of the aluminium becomes noticeable in time as the pans become more distorted – eventually rendering them unusable. The bonus is that they are affordable to replace, but the better anodized aluminium pans are more expensive.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel pans tend to be heavier and because of this, they are better balanced pans to use. Stainless steel is also a stronger material, but the handles, like with aluminium pans, can also get extremely hot, so care is needed. Stainless steel does retain heat well and this is a good feature for dishes that have a longer cooking time.
Stainless steel is non-reactive which means that almost anything can be cooked in a stainless steel pan, however manufacturers do advise against cooking acidic or salty foods in the pans for long periods as this can cause pitting of the surface.
The main negative aspect of stainless steel pans is the hefty price tag, but having said that, the pans will last a lifetime. It is worth checking that the pans are not made from thin gauge stainless steel as this will cause food to scorch very easily. Check that the pans you like are an equal thickness all over as this helps prevent the problem. Some basic quality pans are not such good heat distributors. It is possible to buy stainless steel pans that have an inner core of copper or aluminium and this really improves the conduction of heat.
With the scales between the two being similarly balanced, price and functionality will be the decision making points for you!