Selecting Kitchen Cooking Equipment With an Eye to Value and Quality
Whether you’re just setting up your first kitchen appliances away from home, or are a skilled cook looking to refurbish your inventory of kitchen cookware, we’ve got some answers to your questions on choosing cooking equipment that delivers the best value and quality that stands the test of time. Knowing how to choose cooking gear is half the battle in producing tasty results. Here’s a handy guide to what you should consider before you go shopping.
First, what is your cooking style? By this, we mean that you have to remember to consider what types of dishes you enjoy cooking most and the type of cookware you reach for most often. For example, if you are a soup and stew fan, you will want to put a stockpot, slow cooker or Dutch oven on your short list of most needed cookware. Maybe casseroles are among your frequent choices for the dinner menu. In this case, a large casserole dish is a necessity.
A frying pan is always on every cook’s list of must-have kitchen cookware. Now, let’s take a look at how much cookware you really need. Whatever your cooking passions, but those most useful and versatile to your cooking style first on your list. Do not forget electric kitchen cookware items, such as a wok, slow cooker, griddle, or rice cooker when building your shopping and wish lists.
Many cooks, especially those only starting out, find it tempting to buy all their kitchen cookware at once. While you may get a great deal on one of the ‘complete’ sets, you’ll probably find that half of the pots and pans will sit idle in your valuable kitchen space. That’s why it’s important to prioritize your purchases in terms of your personal cooking style.
It’s always better to buy a few quality pieces that will assist your needs, rather than a more complete setup of lesser quality cookware. For instance, with one large frying pan, a 2-quart saucepan, a stockpot, and a baking sheet, you can cook a myriad of dishes and sides that will enable you to serve enticing menus for quite a while. Adding just one piece of additional kitchen cookware each month or two soon builds an enviable assortment of cookware.
Since most of us are on a budget, let’s consider the price. You may think one frying pan is pretty much the same as another, purchasing the cheapest you can find. Not true! A frying pan is an essential piece of cooking equipment, typically taking its place on your stove on a daily basis. As with all pots and pans, you’ll do well to pay a little more for this heavy use item.
When shopping, compare the weight of the different frying pans available. A rule of thumb here’s, the heavier, the better. A lightweight pan tends to overheat, warp over time and requires great care to avoid burning your food. The heavier weight pan heats evenly does not warp and doesn’t result in burned or wasted food. Cookware weight plays a big part in cooking success.
How do you choose from the array of kitchen cookware materials? You have got plenty of choices! Stainless-steel is non-reactive, whereas aluminum is. Cooking up a batch of spaghetti sauce in an aluminum pan imparts a metallic taste to your dish, as the acid in tomatoes reacts chemically with the aluminum, but not with stainless steel.
If you’re not familiar with the old style plain cast iron cookware, you ought to check it out. Black cast iron cookware is one of my personal favorites, in that it holds and distributes heat evenly, is easy to clean and, over time, accumulates a complexity of flavors as it becomes ‘seasoned’.
The seasoned cast iron cookware should never be washed with soap, but simply scrubbed with hot water, then heated over the stove until dry and rubbed with a couple of teaspoons of oil to restore its protective coating. Cast iron is also a very good value, price-wise and lasts a lifetime with this simple care program.
Enamel coated cast iron is a bit pricey, but for the style-conscious cook, it may be a good choice. This kind of kitchen cookware has the same properties as its black cast iron cousin, but also makes a lovely appearance as a serving piece at the dinner table.
Pyrex glass cookware is another attractive choice, which comes in clear, cobalt and cranberry colors and may be used on the stove top, in the oven and microwave, so versatility comes into play here.
The CorningWare glass-ceramic kitchen cooking equipment has been popular since the late 1950s. It’s the refrigerator, freezer, stove top, oven and dishwasher safe, available in a number of designs and colors. Since its inception, the collection of pieces have expanded, allowing you to outfit your entire kitchen cookware collection in a coordinated look to suit your individual taste in your kitchen décor.
In summary, when outfitting your kitchen, consider your cooking style and serving preferences first. Don’t be afraid to ‘mix and match’ your cookware as your needs require. Be willing to pay a little more for a high-quality piece of cookware. Prioritize your purchases, make a ‘wish list’ and build an assortment of kitchen cookware that you’ll be happy with for many years.