If you have already read our post How to Distinguish Between a Good Frying Pan and a Bad One at a Glance
–you should read it, it’s a great one- you surely know manufacturing materials are key to determine the final quality and performance of a pan. That post was only focused in aluminium pans but as aluminium is not the only material used to build cookware we are now going to make everything a little bit more complicated by talking about other common materials: stainless steel and cast iron. Next time you go shopping you will perfectly know which one is the best for you!
Stainless Steel is not only good to boil
Stainless steel cookware is very versatile. It has some inconveniences, of course, but if you choose a good quality product you will be able to cook great dishes. As we love being optimists let’s start with the good things. We take for granted that you are considering buying a good quality product made of 18/10 stainless steel, meaning made of 18% chromium and 10% nickel. This means you will own a product its main features will be: high durability, great resistance to acids –such as lemon or tomato- and a non-porous surface that avoids flavours and olours to impregnate the cooking surface. It won’t neither have an excessive weight so that it will be versatile easy to handle and, although it has some peculiarities, easy to clean and maintain.
Now it’s time for the bad things: stainless steel has bad heat conductivity properties and unless it is non-stick coated, food can easily stick in the cooking surface if you don’t stir constantly, cook with plenty of liquid or add a generous quantity of oil –or any animal or vegetal grease-. Also, it won’t be suitable for induction cooktops unless it includes an induction base, but this base will reduce energy efficiency.
Good news is there are alternatives and solutions for these inconveniences. Bad news is, as always, you will need to pay for them. Stainless steel cookware of the highest quality include one –or various- inner sheets made of a highly conductive material –usually aluminium- to improve energy efficiency and, while they are at it, outer sheets made ferritic materials so it can be used in induction cooktops without problems. Finally, there are various alternatives to improve non-stick properties, but if your main goal is avoiding food from sticking in the cooking surface, our recommendation is using the old non-stick coating.
By the way, if you ask yourself which kind of stainless steel do Castey use, the answer is “this last one”. We don’t coat it to highlight stainless steel cooking properties and although it’s a little bit more expensive, we really believe it is worth it.
This is the perfect sentence to summarize all properties, advantages and inconveniences of this material, which is one of the most popular in the world for cookware. We could leave this chapter here, but we will give you some more information so as not to seem lazy.
Let’s start with the good things too. Unless stainless steel, it is one of the materials with best heat distribution allowing perfect even cooking results all around the cooking surface. Even though it takes a lot of time to heat it, once it reaches the desired temperature food is perfectly even cooked. It also has excellent heat retention properties, making it the best choice to cook at low temperatures as it gives a unique flavor to all dishes and keeps the food warm until serving. Enamel coated cast iron also retains cold very well. Casseroles can be placed in the fridge to serve cold dishes and even in the freezer to preserve them. And they are also induction ready!
Now it’s time for the bad things. It weights a lot. It weights too much. Big size casseroles are difficult to move and handle even when they are empty. They are also really expensive, but also very resistant and will last more than a lifetime.
Which one should I choose?
Again, there is not a correct answer to this question so we cannot answer it for you. Our goal has been to provide the tools and information you need to make your choice. We will be happy if we have helped you just a little bit!
3 IS NOT 30. ALL YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE BUYING A PAN