Pepper Guide: 6 Essential Pots and Pans For Every KitchenJune 22, 2016
- Bernice EscobarWords
Whether you’ve just moved out of your parents house or are in the process of building up your own kitchen arsenal, usually the first question that comes to mind is “What do I need to buy?” Often, the kitchen comes up last on the long list of “Things To Buy”. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!
If you’re anything like me, the kitchenware section brings as much excitement as a theme park does. Whenever I pass by, I suppress the need to buy another spatula or new baking equipment (at which I always fail). Pots and pans, on the other hand, are wares I can’t afford to purchase without extensive research. Keep this list on essential pots and pans for every kitchen on your bookmarks!
Before we delve into our list, let’s first go through a few terms often used when discussing cookware:
Reactivity: When cookware is made with certain materials, this can affect the food you prepare in them. While not necessarily dangerous for your health, using a reactive material can stain your food and affect its flavor.
Heat Conductivity: The transfer of heat directly through the cookware.
Heat Distribution: The even distribution of heat around the pan.
Reactivity: Non-reactive; you can cook anything in stainless steel without food discoloration and affecting the flavor.
Heat Conductivity: Heat transfers poorly through this material.
Heat Distribution: Poor heat distribution, this material is prone to hot-spots.
Pepper Notes: A great starting point for those building up their kitchen, stainless steel wares are durable and inexpensive.
Reactivity: Reactive, alkaline and acidic food take on a metallic taste when cooked in copper. Light colored food can be discolored when cooked in copper.
Heat Conductivity: Has good conductivity.
Heat Distribution: Copper pots and pans evenly distribute the heat.
Pepper Notes: You can ingest small amounts of copper when cooking with this material. It’s fine if you’re cooking with these occasionally. Otherwise, we’d advise against it. Also, these can get pricey and require a lot of polishing!
Reactivity: Similar to copper, raw aluminum is highly reactive to alkaline and acidic food.
Heat Conductivity: Has excellent conductivity but can warp in high heat.
Heat Distribution: Along with good conductivity, aluminum cookware distributes heat well
Pepper Notes: Raw aluminum cookware can get scratched easily which lead to health concerns. Check out anodized aluminum—it’s more expensive than raw aluminum, but it’s a far superior alternative. Anodized aluminum cookware are scratch resistant, lightweight, and durable!
Reactivity: Unfortunately, cast iron doesn’t do well with acidic food.
Heat Conductivity: This material retains heat well but takes some time to heat up.
Heat Distribution: Tends to run some hot spots.
Pepper Notes: Raw cast iron require some maintenance and care, you’ll have to season it regularly to retain its non-stick coating. While there are enameled cast iron cookware, these can be pricey but doesn’t require as much care as raw cast iron does.
There’s really no sure way of hitting all the marks with cookware made from a single material. Fortunately, some brands offer wares that combine two metals, mixing great heat conductivity and distribution of one material with a non-reactive material—but at a price. If you’re willing to invest in pieces that will really last, we suggest that you purchase cookware with multiple materials: stainless steel with either a copper or aluminum core, ceramic enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel lines copper pans.
Without further ado, here is our list of must-have pots and pans for your growing kitchen arsenal.
Cast iron skillet: A sturdy, well-rounded addition to your kitchen: If you think this skillet is just for getting a good sear on your steaks, boy are you in for a surprise! Try your hand at a cast iron skillet corn bread or mac and cheese. Just keep in mind that although this skillet is sturdy, it still needs maintenance. After cooking, always keep your cast iron skillet dry and well seasoned. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is as good as a non-stick pan, since the seasoning on the pan helps keep your food from sticking. Taking good care of a cast iron skillet ensures that it will last you a long time.
Non-stick skillet: While a cast iron skillet is a great non-stick pan to have in your kitchen, it lacks in certain aspects. A non-stick skillet will let you cook a sunny side up egg in no time without fear of it partially sticking! Keep in mind that these pans will eventually lose their coating. To maximize these skillets, don’t use metal utensils on it and clean only with a soft sponge.
2-3 quart saucepan: As a seriously versatile tool for your kitchen, you can use this saucepan to make small batches of soup and sauces for your culinary masterpieces.
Sauté pan: If you decide to follow this list to a tee, you should have 2 skillets and a saucepan. What’s the difference between a sauté pan and those three? A sauté pan lets you cook a large batch of food evenly on a wide surface—particularly food with sauces. Its wide surface can keep your meat partially crisp while braising in a sauce. Where a skillet is too shallow or a saucepan is too tall, a sauté pan fits the bill.
Stock pot: You can turn to this stock pot when you have a big cooking project or if you’re feeding a large number of people. Other than being your go-to weapon of choice when feeding many, this can make big batches of stock which can save you in a pinch while adding a lot of flavor to your food.
Pressure cooker: While not as versatile as a saucepan or a cast iron skillet, a pressure cooker will save you tons of time in the kitchen. Another plus point, a pressure cooker will get your meat tender in such a short amount of time without compromising flavor.
Let us know your comments on our choices! Give us your list of essential pots and pans to compare. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.