Cook Italian - Tips and Techniques
Category 
Tips And Techniques
October, 2012
Posted by 
Nicola Bertazzoni

How to choose the right material

When you buy a pot or a pan, you should consider carefully the type of use you want to make of it. Not all materials, in fact, are suitable for the same function!

Stainless steel, for example, has many advantages: it is durable, it is hygienic and easy to clean. It is particularly fit for boiling, while food tends to "stick" to the pot easily. It has low conductivity.
Aluminum is light and has high conductivity. It is suitable for all types of cooking, with the exception of frying. However it buckles, it is porous and it tends to stain light-colour sauces.
Teflon non-stick coatings allow you to cook without fats and do not stick to food. However, the coating is easily scratched. These types of coating are particularly suitable for the preparation of omelettes and sautés.
Ceramic, as a coating material for pots and pans, has lower non-stick properties and it is more fragile than an ordinary non-stick pan. On the other hand, it is healthier and it is ideal for golden brown and crisp cooking.
Tinned copper has high conductivity, it is hard-wearing and it does not stick, but it oxidizes easily. It is suitable for all types of cooking, but it is used primarily by "professionals", because of its high cost.
Iron is non-stick and thermostatic. It is used for cooking on a high flame and for frying, but it rusts easily.
Cast iron has good thermo-regulating capacity and it is non-stick. On the other hand, it is very heavy and fragile. It is ideal for stewing and casseroling.
Clay is fit for all heat sources, but it heats up slowly. It is ideal for cooking stews, on a low flame, but it is fragile and it absorbs odours.
Pyrex glass is not a good thermal conductor. It is used almost exclusively for cooking in a traditional oven or in a microwave. Excellent material when it comes to food, it is fragile and not very resistant to sudden temperature changes.