The first thing you should look for when looking for new cookware is the different types of pieces that are available. If you are a beginner you will most likely need efficient and cost-effective solutions for your cookware needs. So let's start out with the basics, when selecting new cookware there are four major pieces to consider: a stock pot, a fry pan, a sauté pan, and last but not least, a saucepan.
The Stockpot is a large, deep pot with a flat bottom. It is used to cook liquid foods that do not need to be extremely close to the heat source. Stockpots let you sauté or brown, and then add liquids when making stocks, soups, or stews. Their tall profiles are great for keeping pasta submerged during boiling. This particular pot comes in a variety of sizes and it's smart to keep in mind that having multiple sizes comes in handy when one has to cook for either a small or large group.
The fry pan or skillet is an essential kitchen workhorse and may be one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you'll ever own. Flipping omelets, stir-frying, and even searing proteins is easy with the right fry pan. These pans are designed with a flat bottom and curved sides, making them a perfect choice for turning foods over or simmering with oils. How hot can they get? That depends on the material your pan is made of. Nonstick pans shouldn't exceed low or medium heat to retain their coating, while high heat is fine for stainless steel. Frypans and skillets come in all sizes (yes, even ones built for single eggs) and typically don't come with a lid.
Another form of skillets are Cast Iron Skillets. Cast Iron Skillets are similar to fry pans, however the main difference is the care and the material they are made out of. Seeing as these skillets are made of cast iron they can be pretty heavy. The best advice, if you haven't ever used a skillet, would be to come in and hold a skillet prior to purchase. When selecting a Cast Iron Skillet, be sure that it is preseasoned. The issue with skillets that are not pre-seasoned is that food will stick to it. To properly care and clean a cast iron skillet follow the instructions below.
The Sauté Pan is meant for sautéing, which translates into being able to fry food while moving it around quickly in the pan, all while covered with a lid. Sauté pans are similar to fry pans when it comes to the design, they too have a flat bottom, however the main difference between fry and sauté pans is that instead of having rounded sides, sauté pans have straight sides. Seeing as they are deeper than a fry pan, sauté pans can be used for multiple uses in addition to sautéing. Some of these uses are deep-frying, searing, and preparing certain sauces such as marinara.
The Sauce Pan has a rounded bottom and tall, straight sides. This means that they are a very versatile cookware choice, and can be used when making all kinds of sauces and soups. These pans can be used with or without a lid to control evaporation, which is why sauce pans are a go-to in any kitchen. A sauce pan is also ideal for many other uses - from reheating leftovers and preparing grains, to boiling eggs or noodles.
Ready to Add More to Your Collection?
If you are ready to start adding to your collection cookware you should think about pieces such as - a braiser pan, a griddle, or a wok. These pieces should be added depending on your lifestyle and your cooking preferences. Don't be afraid to mix and match pieces made of different materials.
Braiser pans or Braisers are a large, flat bottom pan with a moisture-locking lid. This design makes the Braiser Pan a multitasker as well as a great addition to any collection. They can be used to brown food on the stovetop and/or slow-cook food in the oven. Some braiser pans are even designed to be served from right at the table, when everything has finished cooking of course!
A Griddle is a piece of cookware that has a large, flat or ridged surface. With a fairly small amount of oil it can be used to cook breakfast foods such as pancakes, hash browns and eggs. It can be square or round, but usually does not have the longer handle of a fry pan. Griddles or Grill Pans that offer a small ridged surface are perfect when you are trying to create those perfect grill marks.
Woks have high, sloping sides, and are a popular all-purpose Asian pan. They are traditionally 14 inches in diameter and made of carbon steel. These pans have a hot cooking surface on the bottom, while being cooler up the sides. On top of that, being able to move the ingredients around the pan gives one great control and versatility over the temperature. Woks are perfect for stir frying, steaming and deep frying.
Ready to Round Off Your Collection?
Considering that now you have developed the passion for great food and great cookware, it is time to add some more specialty pieces to your collection. You can create tons of fun dishes and recipes with specialty items such as pressure cookers, roasters, Dutch / French ovens and more. The possibilities are endless!
Pressure Cookers give you the choice of having a quick-release option, taking even less time to finish a meal and without wasting water to cool things down. Their lids completely seal the pot, while the liquid is boiling inside. Steam then builds the pressure, which results in higher cooking temperatures and shorter cooking times. Most Pressure Cookers come in sizes that vary from 3 Quarts to 8.5 Quarts. A Pressure Cooker with a detachable pressure regulator can adjust the pressure to low, medium or high. The higher the pressure, the higher the internal temperature and the less cooking time you will need. The safety valve will automatically vent the steam. One of the most important accessories you will need is a timer. A couple of extra minutes of cooking probably won't harm a pot roast, but it could ruin a more delicate dish or any accompanying veggies.
A Roaster is a large rectangular pan with low sides that allows the oven's heat to reach as much of the food as possible. Roasting pans are often used with a roasting rack, which helps elevate food above the cooking surface. It's best used for cooking in the dry heat of the oven at relatively high temperatures. This is an essential pan for roasting turkeys, chickens, and other roasts.
The Dutch Oven is a larger vessel designed for slow-cooking generous volumes of stews, braised meats or pot roast. Dutch Ovens are usually round in shape and are made out of cast iron. Most Dutch Ovens have a pair of short handles, in order to make lifting safe and easy. Dutch Ovens come in a variety of colors, which many chefs like because they add a splash of color to any cookware set!
The French Oven is a type of Dutch Oven; the main difference is that they have an interior enamel, which means seasoning is not required. This is why French ovens are commonly referred to as enameled Dutch Ovens. French Ovens are perfect for cooking a variety of dishes, including beef, pork, roasts, briskets, and poultry. French Ovens, like standard Dutch Ovens, come in a variety of colors, making them the perfect option to add a splash of color to any cookware set!
There is always the option of buying Cookware in a bundle. It's usually great for saving money and in return having matching pieces. This is an option for those who know exactly what they are looking, which makes for an easier purchase. Cookware Sets can range anywhere from 10-18 pieces, with different variations in each set tailored to what you need.