Posts Tagged ‘professional cookware’

High Quality Cookware And Heat Conduction

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Heat conduction is one of the most important quality characteristics when it comes to cookware, asides from other factors such as reactivity with foods, durability and ease of maintenance. High quality cookware always has great heat conduction. There are different ways to achieve this, but the main objective is almost always to distribute the heat evenly to all sides.
There are exceptions where the exact opposite is desired – a extremely hot center whereas the surround shouldn’t be hot. This is specially true for woks, since in Asian cooking there are certain ways of frying dishes on very high heat for short periods of time so that certain gustatory characteristics develop and the nutrients are preserved and not “fried to deatch”.
However, unless you are into Asian cooking you probably want even heat distribution for your cookware. There are different methods of achieving this that different manufacturers of high-quality cookware adhere to. For stainless steel cookware from Williams Sonoma for example this is most often achieved through a copper or aluminum core that is sandwiched inside the base layers of the stainless steel pan or pot, because stainless steel itself has very poor heat conductivity.
Other manufacturers like Magnalite have a certain magnesium-aluminum alloy casting process where the bases are extremely thick and have different grades of thickness. Aluminum is the second best cookware material for heat conduction.
Copper is in and of itself the perfect heat conductor and professional chefs often use gourmet cookware made from copper.
Another great heat conductor is cast iron cookware.
Better heat conductivity has several advantages – cooking time can generally be reduced and in general lower cooking temperatures are possible. But most important of all you can precisely adjust the heat to the temperature that you want. Certain foods need to be cooked at a precise temperature point – gourmet chefs know this – and copper cookware is the only real choice for professional chefs who need temperature precision.
The downside of copper is definitely it’s price (it’s easy to spend more than $1000 on a good copper cookware set) and the fact the copper reacts with certain foods. That is why all high quality cookware made from copper usually has a protective coating that prevents it from reacting with foods. When I say reacting I mean that it will either change the taste of the food, or in some cases even be harmful to your health. (And the same is true for aluminum). However, with good coatings high-conductivity cookware is save to use!
There are many other issues when it comes to determining cookware quality, but in this one I wanted to focus on heat conductivity only. If you want to know more about other factors of high-quality cookware I recommend you read the other articles that are available for free on

High Quality Backpacking Cookware

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

I love backbackping and I love cooking – so it’s not a big stretch for me to write about high quality cookware for backpackers! Now most likely you won’t use the same kind of cookware that you use at home for your backpacking trips. A nice iron-cast or stainless steel pan is great for a homely kitchen – but if your out in the wilderness or on a canyon tour you don’t want to carry these extra pounds on your back. If you constantly feel pushed down from carrying a heavy load in your backpack and your back aches and your feet are tired then what’s really the point of going on a trip in a first place? It’s all about enjoying it, having fun and going for the experience. But to make the experience fun you will need to prepare and inform yourself first and find out what’s best for you. Depending on your budget there are several options available and I can understand that somebody who goes on a backpacking trip every second year probably won’t spend as much money on his travel cookware as somebody who’s on the road for 6 months every year.

Backpack cookware should also be easy to store – for example detachable or foldable handles. And then there’s the question for how many people you will cook – are you a happy family chap with 12 kids or a lonely ranger? It’s no fun having to cook for a dozend people in a one-person-meal pot, but if you are on your own then family size won’t do it either.

The most popular choice for backpackers is aluminum. It’s reasonable priced and lightweight – and it really has the typical “camping feeling” to it when you cook your meal in a aluminum pan.
Aluminum cookware also has a dark side to it. Food usually sticks to it quiet easily and when you are in the wilderness cleaning is never as easy as in a kitchen. But the biggest issue might be health concerns – aluminum can react with foods, contaminating it with toxic substances. So if you are going to eat several months out of the year out of your camping aluminum pan, I suggest you consider buying another model (see the options below). But if it’s just for maybe two or three weeks a year then aluminum is still a good choice in my opinion and save to use. Just maintain it properly – when you buy aluminum cookware the manufacturer will most likely also include maintenance instructions that you simply should adhere to.

For long-term backpackers I suggest lightweight stainless steel cookware. It has all the characteristics of stainless steel but is much lighter (and unfortunately but not surprisingly also more expensive). Heat distribution won’t be as good as aluminum, so that means you’ll have to stirr your food constantly so that it doesn’t get burned. But it’s very strong and will stay with you forever.

And if your budget allows so – go titanium! Titanium cookware is lightweight, durable and has very good heat conduction and is non-stick.

And another really basic thing is to look for are tight closing lids – they will reduce your cooking time substantially and thus save you lots of fuel (which means you don’t have to carry a lot of fuel around or pick up lots of firewood after a long days march).

I hope you found these tips on high quality cookware for backpackers useful – if you have any comments or questions please just leave a comment here and I will look into that.

High Quality Cookware

Friday, April 4th, 2008

There are all kinds of high-quality cookware sets – most commonly stainless stell (which is my favourite), non-sticking, cast-iron, copper, titanium, enamel, hard-ionized, etc.
In another article I wrote that in my personal opinion you will probably want one-size fits all cookware – that is, you don’t want to have to have several different pans for several different dishes. My choice is stainless steel cookware, because of my personal cooking preferences and the fact that I am quiet often on the move, so I don’t want to have to deal with schlepping around a lot of stuff – and I still think that way, but a friend of mine pointed out that different cookware materials are very well justified for some people. If you specialize in low-fat cooking a non-sticking cookware set might be right for you (most often teflonฎ coated cookware).

Cast Iron is also great because you it’s basically a “do it all” kind of cookware – it too will last you a lifetime long, you won’t ever have to worry about scratching it like with coated cookware that can release toxins in the food once the coating is damaged, etc. Yes, cast iron has to be pre-seasoned, but nowadays you won’t have to do that yourself anymore because most of the high-quality cast iron cookware companies pre-season the cookware for you and when you get it it’s already ready to use.
Price can be an objection when buying cookware. For me, I happily shelled out more than $200 for my stainless-steel copper-core pan from Williams Sonoma, and I’m still happy about that purchase. I use this pan almost every day and I enjoy it every day! Putting it all together, on knives, pots, etc. I spent several thousand dollars on my current cooking equipment, but it’s worth it. Almost every day when I’m spending my one or two hours of cooking in the kitchen I feel like I’m on vacation and it really is a luxury to be able to spend this kind of time on cooking.
I used to be resistant to buying high quality cookware because I had so much great, delicious and healthy food when I traveled through Thailand, Vietnam and China and the street vendors there used the cheapest kinds of cookware available. But I found that while I don’t mind eating delicious food that comes from $10 wok, I do mind cooking my food in a cheap pot, having to deal with it when it starts to show signs of wear and tear, replacing it with yet another cheap pot again and again. In the end my “expensive” high quality cookware is probably gonna be cheaper than any kind of discount cookware.