The stove is an essential part of kitchen function and design and is among the most used parts of the room. A number of materials are available, including modern options like iron, ceramic and glass. Each of these offers its own benefits and will have different levels of durability depending on use. To keep stovetops in their best condition, quality cookware is a must. A few cookware materials will help produce better cooking results and keep stovetops looking new.
Stainless steel pans are among the most commonly used by chefs and have the best overall cooking performance in the culinary world. The ideal combination is 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel (18/10) around an aluminum core. This combination is durable and will not scratch or damage cooktops. These pans won't scratch or rust and work well for everything from sautéing vegetables to frying meats. The material heats evenly and reacts well to temperature changes; their flat bottoms make for easy cleaning, and they are usually dishwasher safe, an ideal combination that makes them highly functional and easy to care for.
The most common pan material used in professional kitchens, copper is both aesthetically appealing and highly functional. It is widely used because it conducts heat better than any other type of pan and won't damage cooktops. Copper is one of the preferred materials for cooking because hot spots are almost nonexistent, and copper reacts almost instantly to temperature changes. The cost of copper pans is generally significantly more other materials and, because copper by itself tends to be reactive with food, some kind of metal is required as a lining, usually tin or steel. Tin linings wear out every few years while steel adds to the cost. Frequent polishing is necessary to prevent corrosion and copper pans are not dishwasher safe.
Cast iron skillets and cookware are classic pieces often handed down from generation to generation. Though fairly heavy, they are not likely to scratch cooktops under normal conditions, though their weight may cause chipping or cracking if dropped and may move from the stove to oven with no problem. Like other types of metal, cast iron provides steady heat and will hold heat longer than other pans. Because of this heat retention ability, foods left in the pan, even if the burner is shut off, may burn. The pans require some special care, including curing or seasoning before use. Without this oiling, food will stick and the pan may rust. Cleaning must be done immediately and thoroughly to keep fats and oils from ruining the pan.
A coating added to cast iron or other metal pans, porcelain enamel provides an easy to clean, long-lasting combination that is easy on cooktops. Unlike plain cast iron, porcelain requires little care, won't rust and doesn't require preseasoning before use. Porcelain absorbs heat slowly but is among the best choices for cooking on reduced settings. These products are not ideal for frying but work well as saucepans and roasters. Care includes cleaning with warm, soapy water, and some products may be washed in the dishwasher on occasion.
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