There’s an old saying that a workman is only as good as his tools, and when it comes to cooking tools, it’s certainly true of pots and pans. In fact, good-quality pots and pans made of the right materials really can improve your cooking. We’re definitely talking quality over quantity here and a few great quality items can transform your cooking.
There are several things to look out for when shopping for pots and pans. The first is heavy-gauge materials. You want heavy-gauge pots and pans as they not only hold heat at a constant temperature, but distribute it evenly, and the bottom is therefore unlikely to dent or warp. An absolutely flat bottom is essential, especially if you cook on an electric stove and a pan made out of a heavy-gauge material will stay flatter for longer. Heavy gauge materials like aluminium and copper are also good conductors of heat and are therefore responsive to changes, meaning they’ll heat up or cool down as you change the temperature on the stove – essential for successful cooking.
But how do you know if its heavy enough? Rap on it with your knuckles. You want a satisfying thud rather than a light ping.
The handles and lid are also important. They should be both sturdy and heatproof to minimise the chance of an injury. In this case, contrary to the requirements for the base of the pot or pan, you’re after a metal that’s a poor conductor of heat such as stainless steel so as to avoid the handle heating up. Plastic and wooden handles are not ideal as they aren’t oven-proof so reduce the applications of your pot or pan and stop you from finishing off a dish started on the stove in the oven. A lid should have a tight fit to keep moisture in and have a heatproof handle. Glass lids are not always oven safe, so it’s worth checking on it if you plan on using your pot or pan in the oven, too.
Having a secure grip on your pot or pan when moving it around the kitchen is important so be sure to handle it before you buy it. Can you lift it easily and not feel like it’ll escape your grasp?
Different materials are suitable for different types of cooking so it’s a good idea to build up a collection of pots and pans that suit your cooking needs rather than going for a bundle of pots all made of the same materials.