If you are new to cooking, then you may have wondered how to use cookware. After all, cookware sets come packed with all shapes and sizes of pots and pans that may appear strange or even confusing on first glimpse. You may not understand which pan is used for simmering, searing, etc.
More importantly, there are several different varieties of cookware in the market as well as countless brands that make them. Without properly understanding the make and design of your cookware, you may not know how to properly use it.
We have previously discussed what cookware is and the different types of cookware available. In this article, we bring to you the different ways to use cookware depending on their construction, as well as the primary function. Keep on reading!
What is included in a cookware set?
A cookware set may come with all of some of the following pots and pan:
These are the most commonly used cookware in all households, thanks to their versatility. They are flat on the bottom, shallow with curved side walls that help in stirring and keep your food from sliding out. Frying pans are used for frying, sauteing, searing, and scrambling.
A saute pan resembles a skillet and a larger frying pan. It features a wide bottom for excellent heat conduction and retention. It is ideal for braising, browning, sauteing, searing, poaching, stir frying, deglazing, etc. Its straight, tall sides keep your food from spilling.
Woks come with round or flat bottoms and offer maximum heat concentration. These are multi-purpose but are widely used for stir frying, sauteing, and deep frying. Their deep curved sides allow for easy food movement and make it convenient to toss your ingredients.
Tapered Sauce Pan
A tapered saucepan comes with a small bottom for less heat exposure and effective sauce making and simmering. This pan is ideal for thickening and preparing sauces. Its flared sides allow for easy stirring acting and it is ideal for cooking at low temperatures for a longer time.
A rondeau makes it convenient to cook meats and vegetables with very little liquid. It is also ideal for long, slow cooking to ensure that all juices from your foods are perfectly blended and combined with your ingredients. These are also ideal for blanching vegetables.
These are deep pots with a wide bottom to allow for maximum, effective heat conduction. They are perfect to prepare stews, sauves, casseroles, and slow roasts in.
A stock pot is the perfect choice for making meat or vegetable stocks thanks to its thick base that allows for a good slow simmer. It can also be used to make soups, boil pasta, bulk vegetables, etc. These preserve liquid for longer and maximize flavor. These can also be used with steam baskets to cook your food with steam.
These are usually made with cast iron or cast aluminum and are praised for even and consistent heat. They also retain heat far better than most pots and pans. They are excellent at cooking food without any cold spots and there is also less chance of scorching. Dutch ovens can be used to prepare stews and even bake food.
The griddle or grill pan comes with a flat surface that provides ample space to place your steaks and vegetables on and enjoy a delightfully delicious sear. It requires only a small amount of oil and can even be used to cook breakfast such as eggs, pancakes, etc.
What are the different types of cookware?
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
- Induction Friendly
How to Use the Different Types of Cookware
Stainless steel pans
The greatest benefit of stainless steel pots and pans is that they are practically indestructible, which is why they are so popular with professional chefs as well.
Stainless steel is known for excellent heat distribution and retention, as well as non-stick properties in the modern varieties of cookware.
To use stainless steel cookware properly and get the most out of it, make sure you always preheat your pots and pans and wait until they are the right temperature or hot enough before adding oil. This greatly reduces the chances of your food gluing to the bottom of the pan.
If you are not sure whether your pan is hot enough, just add a drop of water or oil and see if it begins to sizzle. If the water droplet evaporates and if the oil sizzles, then your pan is ready for use.
Stainless steel pans can also be used at slightly lower temperature since steel heats up fairly quickly. To ensure their durability and longevity, make sure that you do not expose them to high levels of heat. Temperature fluctuations can also cause damage to these pans.
Once you are done cooking in your stainless steel cookware, do not run cold water over them as this can also affect its quality and resilience. Instead, let them cool down a bit before you wash them.
These pans also do not respond well to excessive scrubbing with a scorching or metal pad, so try to wipe them clean with a damp cloth or wet sponge instead.
Non-Stick cookware comes in different constructions. You may find cookware made from aluminum or steel with a special non-stick coating on the interior surface that keeps your food from sticking to the bottom.
This makes nonstick pans very easy to use, but they may not always be the easiest to clean. You cannot use a scorching or other abrasive cleaning material like a metal pad on them as these would surely peel off the nonstick layer and cause the chemicals to leach into your food.
The greatest advantage of non-stick cookware is that you do not need heaps of butter or oil to cook your food in them. Since these pans are nonstick, you only need very little grease to cook your food, making them a healthier option.
However, despite their many advantages, non-stick pans are far less durable than other alternatives. If the interior layer begins to peel off, it is time to throw away the pan and get a new one because you simply cannot repair it.
When using these pans, avoid using metal utensils and instead invest in wooden or silicone spoons that are gentler on the cooking surface and are also non-scratch.
These pans should also always be used on low to medium-low heat as the high levels of heat can also accelerate the deterioration of the non-stick layer. You also do not need to preheat these pans before adding oil into them.
Abrasive scrubbing tools or chucking them into the dishwasher will also ruin the pan’s nonstick coating, so remember to always hand-wash them.
Cast Iron Cookware
One of the most affordable and durable cookware is undoubtedly cast iron cookware. These pots and pans are known to be indestructible and are built to last you a lifetime. Most households may still have cast iron pans and skillets passed down from their families as they are known to be extremely long-lasting.
You can enjoy this excellent durability and longevity as long as you know how to properly care for them. Cast iron pans require seasoning, without which they will not create their naturally slick, non-stick layer that makes cooking in them so much easier.
Seasoning means that you will need to thoroughly clean the pan, dry it all the way, and then drizzle a thin layer of oil inside before you cook it over heat to ‘bake’ the iron. When this is done, you’ll get the non-stick layer or interior coating which is extremely durable.
Cast iron pans need to be seasoned at least twice a year. Due to their thick base and walls, you will need to give them time to properly heat up and spread it evenly all around your food.
Avoid cooking with acidic foods when using a standard cast iron skillet as these can cut through the seasoning and you will need to repeat the whole process again.
Ceramic cookware is eco-friendly and naturally non-slick but you need to look after these pots and pans to get the most out of them.
When using a dry ceramic pan and preheating it, always ensure that the heat is set on low to medium-low instead of high. This can otherwise damage the mineral based ceramic coating inside.
Avoid adding too much butter or oil to your pan as these are naturally nonstick and adding too much grease may cause an oily build-up on top.
Also remember to always hand wash these pans or the nonstick ceramic base may begin to chip and peel.
If you own an induction stove then you will have to be careful when selecting the right cookware. Not all pots and pans can work on these and you will need to purchase cookware that consists of ferrous metals so your induction hob can detect its presence.
Stainless steel and cast iron cookware are induction friendly but some aluminum cookware as well as copper core cookware may not work on these hobs. Thus, make