Cookware Materials: Advantages and Disadvantages

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OK, now that we have looked at all of the cookware materials, what's good and what's not?

After reviewing the nature and characteristics of the various cookware materials, the following will provide the cooking pro's and con's of each material.


ALUMINUM - Non Anodized
Advantages:
    -Excellent heat conductor
    -Relatively light weight
Disadvantages
    -Porous and relatively soft
    -Dents and scratches easily
    -Difficult to clean
    -Stains easily
    -Reacts to food
    -Oxidizes to a dul gray color
    -Warps easily
    -Requires a "nonstick" coating
(If anodized, aluminum pans do much better for cooking, but still may still require a nonstick interior for easy cleaning and may be prone to chipping on exterior.)

STAINLESS STEEL - Single Ply Construction
Advantages
    -Extremely durable
    -Non-porous, extremely hard
    -Smooth surface, easy to clean
    -Dent and scratch resistant
    -Does not react to foods
    -Easy to maintain mirror finish
Disadvantages
    -Poor heat conductor
(If Tri-Ply Construction with aluminum disc sandwiched between two stainless steel surfaces on bottom, pans have very good heat conduction properties.)

CAST IRON - Non Enameled
Advantages
    -Relatively low cost
    -Holds heat longer
Disadvantages
    -Extremely heavy
    -Rusts if not enameled
    -Reacts to food
(If enameled with a porcelain exterior and interior or a nonstick interior, these pans will not rust and become very good cookware.  While they heat more slowly, they are very even heating.)

COPPER - Singly Ply Construction
Advantages
    -Excellent heat conductor
Disadvantages
    -Relatively high cost
    -Reacts to food (toxic with some foods)
    -Oxidizes, very difficult to maintain finish
    -Dents and scratches easily
    -Must be lined with tin, nickel or stainless steel

ENAMELED STEEL
Advantages
    -Colorful, fashionable
Disadvantages
    -Very poor heat conductor
    -Chips easily
    -Rusts easily when chipped

CARBON STEEL
Advantages
    -Low cost
Disadvantages
    -Very poor heat conductor
    -Rusts easily

GLASS
Advantages
    -Can be decorated or plain
Disadvantages
    -Extremely poor heat conductor
    -Heat resistant if tempered
    -May be unsafe if taken from freezer to stove or oven, or from heat to submersed in sink water.

To see some great examples of high quality cookware, click on the following link:  A Pan For All Seasons

To see other Guides in this series on Cookware Materials click on the following link:  Guides on Cookware Materials
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