The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

8:02 PM

Food Tip - For the Love of Pots and Pans

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Caring for Pots and Pans

Like the most coveted chef's knife your pan can very well dictate the outcome of your dish by the right choice of pan.. Not to mention the variety of pans to serve your culinary desires...The types of pans and their care vary tremendously, although there are a few basics, as we will talk about here today. 

What type of pan requires what type of care to preserve optimal efficiency? As you may see in the image above, the cast iron pans are minis.  However, care and seasoning remains the same regardless of size. One significant issue is how much oil to use while cooking, and what type. As a general rule of thumb, unless you are frying something, use the minimal amount of oil necessary to cook your food. As for cooking sprays, try not to use these for your pots and pans, as these tend to leave a residue that will build up over time.

  • Cast Iron - Cast iron pans are a great addition to any kitchen.  These pans are made from a brittle type of iron that conducts and hold heat very well.  Cast iron pans should be "seasoned" before use, by coating the pan's surface in a thin layer of vegetable oil or animal animal shortening.  Cast iron pans should never be washed by traditional means, and should either by wiped clean or cleaned with a stiff brush and hot water.  Never put your cast iron pan in the dish water, or wash with soap, as this will ruin the seasoning.  If you are purchasing an unseasoned pan, try using it for deep frying the first time you use it, as this will naturally season it.  Over time, the pan will become extremely stick-resistant, and will be create a wonderful flavor in your dishes.  Just be sure not to cook acidic foods in the pan, as they might ruin the seasoning. The pans will become blackened with age, but this is part of the antique look of a long-beloved cast iron pan, that can last for many years.  Just be sure you don't let your pan rust.  Enameled cast iron can be washed by normal means, as it has a thick enamel coating, and is resistant to both rust and corrosion unless the enamel is broken off.
  • Copper - Copper pans conduct heat very well.  Over time, the copper may begin to discolor, but the pans will work just as well, unless they become very dark from misuse.  Copper pans should be washed by hand with soap and water, and should be kept very clean and dry at all times.  If dark, unappealing stains develop, you may purchase a copper cleaner for your pans, but the natural aging and discoloration of these pans is generally considered as aesthetically pleasing, and unless you desire super-shiny pans, some oxidation is nothing to worry about.
  • Non-Stick Versions - Non-stick pans are coated with a material that helps them to cook food without letting it stick.  These pans can be washed either by hand or in a dish washer, and are generally very durable, especially at higher quality levels.  For best results, use wooden or plastic utensils on your pans, to avoid scraping off the non-stick coating.  If your non-stick pans become heavily scratched or start to rust, the non-stick properties are highly likely to be lost or diminished, and the pans may need to be replaced.
  • Ceramic - Ceramic or glass cookware is coated in highly-resistant materials, and is usually very durable.  Just remember that these can be broken or cracked, so wash them with care, either by hand, or in a gentle dishwasher cycle.
  • Aluminum or Steel - These types of pans are generally very inexpensive, and can handle a good bit of abuse.  Simply wash them in the dishwasher, and replace them if they become rusty or overly scratched or corroded.  Try not to cook acidic foods in aluminum cookware, as it can retain an metallic taste.  Anodized aluminum products are a little more resistant, and less prone to corrosion, and are likely to last a bit longer and take a bit more abuse.  Stainless steel cookware tends to be relatively cheap as well, but is more non-stick than cheaper aluminum or steel cookware, and is more resistant to damage.  To obtain some of the heat-retention qualities of copper at a lower price, try copper-core steel cookware.

What type of utensils are best  to preserve the integrative value of your pans? Well for one wooden utensils are a safe bet. However for some tasks, a rubber or plastic utensil is required. For most tasks the wooden utensil is optimal and comes in as many shapes as one could ever desire.  If trying to flip a pancake you may prefer a rubber spatula as they are far more flexible.
Okay, we really have this many wooden spoons and such, plus several more. What can we say, we love wood! But you get the point.  =-)

The right pan or pot can be as valuable to a chef as a great knife.  Each individual may have his or her idea of the best pot or pan, but in general, it is always helpful to have a good array to meet any cooking need!  If you are willing to spend a little money on your pots and pans, and give them a bit of love, they are likely to serve you for years.
Posted by Adam,
Truffle Shuffle

Add To Facebook Share with Twitter Stumble This Digg This Add To Add To Reddit Post to Google Buzz Share on Myspace Share with Windows Live Pin It

blog comments powered by Disqus