How to choose the best cookware set
With so many exceptional choices in Anolon cookware sets, how do you choose the right one for you? The most important thing is to think about your cooking style. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Would you prefer convenience and low-fat cooking, or do you prefer the performance of stainless steel?
- How many people are you cooking for? Do you have to cook different dishes for family members?
- What are you cooking?
- What size is your cooktop? Is it induction?
- Who is doing the cooking?
1. What material should you look for?
There are four main cookware materials; Hard Anodized, Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Bonded stainless steel. With any of these materials, the main question is – do you want the convenience of a non-stick coating, or the durability of uncoated stainless steel? Once you have decided on the interior of the pan, it's time to look at the pan construction.
Hard Anodized material refers to aluminium that has been changed at the molecular level to a more stable form, sealing the surface of the pan. Chemically, a hard anodized pan is similar to sapphire and is extremely hard (twice as hard as stainless steel). This creates a super durable pan, that is then often coated with non-stick.
Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat– but thickness is the key to performance. It is lighter weight than the other materials and requires premium non-stick coatings to increase durability.
Stainless Steel options
Stainless Steel is a hard metal material that has an excellent polished finish and resists scratches and dents. On its own, it is a poor conductor of heat, so it benefits from the addition of a layer of a high conductive aluminium or a full copper layer to help disperse heat.
Bonded Stainless Steel refers to stainless steel and aluminium sandwiched together to provide a hard-wearing surface with a fast heating core that runs throughout the whole pan including the pan walls. This provides even heating and there is no need for a base to be added to the pan.
2. How many people are you cooking for?
The size of your family is a large factor in deciding how many pieces of cookware you need. If you are mainly cooking for two, you may only want two saucepans, two fry pans and a stockpot. If you are cooking for larger families, you may want to think about sets with a larger fry pan (28cm or over) and a larger piece such as a sauté or sauteuse that will be perfect for large cook-ups or one-pot meals.
If you need to cook multiple dishes for different family members, consider sets with a grill pan, stir-fry or sauté pan so that you can make the same base or side dishes and have different proteins.
Sometimes cookware sets have a piece that you are not sure that you will use. Consider the value of the loose pieces that you know you need, and weigh this up against the price of the set. You may find that the additional piece is worth having– and sometimes you never knew what you were missing!
3. What are you cooking?
Think about the type of dishes you usually cook at home. Are they quick and easy or do you make more complicated dishes? Do you do a mix of both (quick mid-week meals and cook up a storm on the weekend)? If you prefer quicker dishes, look for cookware sets that have the basics. These sets will usually include two different sized saucepans and a stockpot, or fry pan combination.
If you are after healthier cooking, look for non-stick cookware sets that also include a steamer for locking in more nutrients and cooking crispier vegetables. You may also want to consider sets with grill pans, stir-fry's or woks.
If you like to cook more complicated dishes, you will likely need more pieces– so look for sets with multiple fry pans and saucepans, and at least one specialty piece such as a sauté pan, casserole, sauteuse or grill pan.
4. What is the type and size of your cooktop?
If you have a smaller cooktop (or kitchen space), then you will likely need to limit the number of cookware pieces you have. Consider how you will be cooking– will you want two saucepans and a fry pan on the stove at the same time? If the answer is yes, and you have a smaller stovetop, you may want smaller pieces (28cm and under).
If you have a larger stovetop and are cooking for a larger family, then you will want sets with larger pieces. This may also be important if you cook with fewer pieces, as one 30cm sauté pan and a saucepan with steamer may be all you need at the same time.
Also consider what type of cooktop you have. If you have an induction stovetop (or have plans to upgrade your kitchen in the next 3 years), then consider cookware that is suitable for induction which requires a magnetised base. Many Australians still prefer cooking with gas or electric cooktops, which will widen your choice of cookware, and may allow your dollars to stretch further when investing in a new set.
5. Who is doing the cooking? Who is doing the washing up?
Are their multiple people doing the cooking? Is everyone going to look after this cookware? Do you live in a share-house? If so, you want durable cookware that will withstand the use of a variety of utensils. Look for non-stick cookware that is metal utensil safe, or consider stainless steel. If you are cooking with kids, you want to consider the factors above, as well as silicone coated handles, which will stay cooler to the touch. Also consider how many of the larger pieces have helper handles (a short handle on the opposite side of the pan).These handles will help you more easily transport and tip cookware when it is full of food.
Who is washing up? Will it be the dishwasher? Like all high-end cookware manufacturers, we recommend hand washing to preserve the life of your pan. However, if you choose to use the dishwasher, look for cookware that is dishwasher safe, and avoid the use of harsh detergents and tablets.
A final note about quality cookware
Quality and performance are important factors when investing in cookware. Every non-stick pan will work well for the first month, but with cookware, you really do get what you pay for– and a cheaper pan will need to be replaced frequently. We are always inspired by the number of people who contact us to say that they cooked with Anolon for the first time and can't believe the difference it made to the taste of their food. It sounds surprising, but great quality materials have an instrumental effect on taste because of the way that flavour and moisture is locked in.
We always recommend choosing cookware that has a manufacturer backed lifetime guarantee, and reading the use and care instructions to continue the best performance from every piece in your set.
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