Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cookware: Make Life Easier

By Lenny Amoore

The term 'cookware' can mean any sort of vessel used in the preparation of food in the kitchen. The shape of the vessel will largely depend on its intended food in an effort to maximize cooking options. This can come in the shape of saucepans, skillets, frying pans, soup kettles, or saucepots, amongst others.

The history of cookware is long and involved. People have been preparing food since the fire was invented, and soon came up with clay pots with which to heat and cook their food. This could be considered the first type of baking ware. Other materials used in ancient times were stone or cooking baskets. With the advent of bronze and iron being used as a building material, the containers increased in their level of refinement. The arsenal of skillets, frying pans, and sauce pans that we use today hearken back to the 17th century, and only keep growing in efficiency.

Cookware is made in a variety of materials. Metal is most predominant, with pots and pans generally made out of metals such as aluminium, stainless steel, cast iron, and copper. Usually the pans are coated with a material that stops the food from sticking to them, also known as non-stick pans. Other common materials used are glass, silicone, or ceramic. Each type helps the food cook differently, though this is left up to the personal preference of the chef.

There are a few specialty pieces of cookware that should be mentioned, such as Dutch ovens and casserole pans. These are used for stews, casseroles, braised meats, or anything else that should be cooked slowly, over a period of many hours. For quick cooking, a skillet is always a good bet, as you can quickly cook basic ingredients in a short amount of time. Griddles can be used not only for pancakes, but for any sort of grilled item that needs to be dropped onto a hot surface and needs to spread out, including omelettes or other food items that begin as a liquid and end as a solid.

There is also a different set of cookware equipment that is designed only for baking, for example pie pans, springform cake pans and angel food cake pans. Flat sheets are used for cookies or other shortbreads, and loaf pans are used for bread. Essentially for any sort of baked food that you can think of, there will be a piece of equipment especially designed for it.

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