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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 5/7/2002

Mothers, others are warming up to cookware

Cast-iron frypans often are preseasoned to prevent rust. Cast-iron frypans often are preseasoned to prevent rust.
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Whether you are a bride-to-be registered for gifts at a local cookware store or a mom who wants to upgrade what's in the cupboard, a whole world of cookware is begging for your attention.

Many brands have high-profile chefs touting their benefits.

But don't despair if you don't have any matching pans in your kitchen. One of my food journalist colleagues commented last week at a seminar that she has assorted brands of pans - each for a specific purpose - and that she wouldn't want a matching set.

If cookware is on your list for giving or receiving on Mother's Day, it helps to know some common cookware terms. Here are some from the Cookware Manufacturers Association.

  • Clad often means that a pan is made of three to nine pieces of metal that have been fused together. Usually, the surfaces of the pan are made of stainless steel, and the inner layers are made of a magnetic or other conductive material such as copper or aluminum. Sometimes, clad refers only to the bottom of a stainless-steel pan where conductive material has been attached to improve heat transfer.

  • Hard-coat anodized means that an electrochemical process has turned a normally soft surface into a hard, scratch-resistant surface. The process differs from nonstick coating. Sometimes, coatings are reinforced to make them scratch-resistant.

  • Nonstick coatings vary. Bakeware often has a silicone finish applied to the entire pan; the finishes work fine at oven temperatures and help release high-sugar-content baked items. Sometimes the coatings are scratch-resistant.

  • Preseasoned is often seen on cast-iron cookware labels. This refers to a wax-based coating to keep the pan from rusting.

  • Oven-safe pans are only completely oven safe if they have metal, not plastic, handles.

  • Stay-cool metal handles are designed so air can circulate around the handles, helping them to stay cooler so the pan can be placed in the oven.

    Specific use of cookware may determine the pieces you choose.

    Sauces and stews belong in more cylindrical pots where the element's heat can be cycled throughout the food. Quickly cooked items and those needing sauteing are prepared in skillets and saute pans.

    Some recipes require specific pans. For example, bundt cake recipes should be baked in fluted tube cake pans; angel food cakes in angel food cake pans. Roasters are designed for turkeys, hams, or big pieces of meat meant for your oven, not your stovetop.

    Small one to two-quart saucepans are perfect for couples. As a family grows, four-quart Dutch ovens may be needed.

    Some designs help solve the problem of boil-overs by making the cover flat with a recessed well to hold any escaping liquid.

    Pasta inserts are colanders in stockpots or Dutch ovens to simplify preparation. When the pasta is done, the insert is lifted from the pan and placed in the sink to drain. Inserts and pans are also available for steaming vegetables and seafood, and for poaching fish.

    Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at food@theblade.com.



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