Cookware – choose carefully !

cookwareYou should choose the cookware i.e. the pots and pans for your kitchen wisely. Lets have a look at the options…

Stainless Steel cookware

You can cook any kind of food in it. It is strong, durable and dishwasher-safe but heat transfer is poor. I highly recommend better quality and expensive stainless steel cookware that has an added inner core made of copper or aluminium, which improves the heat conductivity. It might be expensive, but it’ll last a lifetime.

*Never scratch the steel pans to clean them as it can start leaching chromium and nickel into your food.

Cast Iron cookware

It is durable, naturally non-stick if properly seasoned with oil, retains heat well, releases iron into the food (that’s the benefit! But too much iron can be dangerous so don’t cook in it daily). It is a must-have in your kitchen. It is great for low simmering and deep-frying.

Cons: Iron cookware is quite heavy, reactive (can’t cook acidic foods in them), takes a long time to heat up and requires high-maintenance. After the food is cooked you should immediately transfer it into glass/steel container.

Maintenance: Immediately wash it after cooking. Then wipe it to dry as iron rusts in contact with water. Then coat it with little oil before storing.

*I have a regular iron griddle on which I cook dosa/parantha/pan cakes etc. I never wash it with soap. I just clean it under running water and wipe it and it works better than any non-stick pans.

Another option is enameled cast iron, which is coated in porcelain enamel so it has all the benefits of cast iron without the extra maintenance. It’s non-reactive and easy to clean. But I recommend regular iron cookware if you have time to maintain it.

Copper cookware

They have excellent thermal conductivity thus cooks food evenly.

Cons: You can’t cook acidic foods in it as they give metallic taste after being cooked in a copper pot. So it is not great for everyday use. Copper also requires regular polishing and maintenance and it’s expensive

Copper cookware releases copper into the food and usually also has nickel in the coating. Higher amounts of metal in the food can be dangerous.

Aluminium cookware

They are lightweight, not expensive and has excellent thermal conductivity but do not cook or store food for long periods of time in aluminium cookware. Raw aluminium is highly reactive to acidic foods. It also scratches easily that cause health concerns with long term use. Though more expensive Anodized aluminium cookware are available in the markets now that has been treated by an electro-chemical process to solve most of the problems with raw aluminium. But I would never recommend cooking in aluminium pots.

** It is always better to use expensive stainless steel cookware with an added inner core made of copper or aluminium than to use copper/aluminium cookware.

Ceramic cookware

They can survive heat that would melt stainless steel so they are oven-safe, can be used to store food in the refrigerator and freezer. And unlike metal cookware, they can be used in a microwave. They are very easy to maintain with a naturally nonstick surface. They are the least reactive cookware available but they are heavy and will break if dropped.

Glass cookware

Glass is inexpensive and non-reactive so good for high-acid foods. Glass also bakes faster and retains heat longer than metal.

Cons: Glass is heavy and will break when dropped.

**Ceramic, enamel, and glass cookware are manufactured with lead. So it can leach the lead into food at very high temperatures. Please don’t buy cheap ones, always invest in expensive cookware.

Nonstick/ Teflon cookware

It is very easy to cook food in non-stick. Also easy to clean and require less butter or oil. You should only use plastic or wooden spoon/spatula with it else you might scratch through the coating.

** Non-stick/Teflon is the worst of all cookware. After long term/heavy use even expensive nonstick coatings break down and introduce harmful chemicals into your food. High PFOA blood levels in humans are linked with cancer, high cholesterol levels, thyroid disease and reduced fertility. At high heat these coatings emit fumes, which is toxic to humans. Please never use non-stick cookware.

Titanium cookware

It is light, strong, heats very evenly and quickly, nonporous, nonreactive, resists scratching and is safe to use in the oven. It is nonstick so you can start a dish without butter/oil. It seems to pose the least health risks. Always buy high quality titanium cookware. It is the best cookware.

Cons: very expensive

One thing we should all avoid is cooking at higher temperatures as not only the nutrients in the food can be lost significantly but we also end up compromising with the safety of cookware. For healthy eating learn to cook foods below 200 degrees and invest in expensive cookware.

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