The best pots and pans

The right cookware can make your days in the kitchen less of a chore. But to reap all the benefits of great pots and pans, you must choose the kind that best suits your needs. If you can't seem to decide between stainless steel, copper or cast iron kitchen cookware, here's a bit of information to help make your decision easier.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is durable, stain-resistant, beautiful and easy to clean. In addition to iron and chromium, some stainless steel pots and pans contain nickel. Iron and chromium are essential elements in a diet; but too much nickel can be dangerous. Even though there is not enough nickel in stainless steel cookware to cause harm the average person, trace amounts can transfer from pots and pans into the food during cooking, so people who are allergic to nickel should avoid using stainless steel to prepare meals.

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To preserve the beauty of stainless steel cookware, avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach and abrasives to clean them. Stainless steel cookware should be washed thoroughly with warm soapy water before the first use.

Copper Cookware

Copper cookware is very expensive, and revered for its aesthetic appeal. It is heavyweight, but not nearly as heavy as cast iron. Copper pots and pans have perfect heat transmission, which allows for more even cooking during meal preparation. Copper cookware must be polished frequently to prevent corrosion and to help preserve its beauty. More expensive copper pots and pans are lined with stainless steel and last longer than the less expensive, tin-lined copper cookware. They must be hand-washed and dried thoroughly after each use.

Cast Iron Cookware

Cooking with cast iron is nothing new, as this method of preparing meals has been around for ages. Cast iron cookware is easy to clean, extremely durable, and if cared for properly, will last for years. Cast iron cookware holds heat better than other types of cookware, and its versatility allows it to be used on the stove, as bakeware and on the grill.

Cast iron cookware is heavy and prone to rusting. Under normal circumstances, cast iron is crack-resistant, however, it may crack if you put cold water in a hot iron pot or pan. To prevent damage to the coating, never put cast iron in the dishwasher.