You are watching a shopping channel or infomercial and they are selling cookware. Every feature sounds soooo impressive! What does it really mean?
Buzz Word: 18/10 Stainless Steel
What it means technically: Stainless steel (a metal alloy made up of different metals) that is 18/10 means it is 18% chromium and 10% nickel.
Why do they do it? The chromium and nickel provide an invisible “layer” over the steel to make it less likely to rust and thus “stainless”. This is true regardless if the surface is brushed or polished.
Why do you want it? So that your cookware and flatware won’t rust.
What it means to you: Longer lasting cookware and stronger flatware.
Is more better than less? In cooking, the chromium is almost alway 18% but the nickel can vary from 0 to 10; 10 makes the metal more rust-proof than 0.
FYI...if a magnet sticks to the stainless steel..the nickel is 0%.
Buzz word: Hard-Anodized Aluminum
What it means technically: Aluminum cookware which has been broken down through a chemical process and then re-hardened using electrical current.
Why do they do it? To make the aluminum stronger, less porous and more stick resistant.
Why do you want it? Because it will heat up and cool down much faster than stainless steel, is stronger and is virtually non-stick.
What it means to you: Long lasting cookware that performs well.
FYI...The only thing harder than anodized aluminum is a diamond!
Buzz word: Tri Ply
What it means technically: Three metals are bonded together. Usually it will be a stainless steel-aluminum-stainless steel sandwich but sometimes copper will be used instead of aluminum.
Why do they do it? Stainless steel is not a very good conductor of heat but aluminum is; in fact aluminum is second only to copper. The aluminum or copper make the cookware have better heat retention and transference.
Why do you want it? Better heat distribution all the way up the sides of the pan. One-piece construction is stronger than a base that is bonded onto the bottom.
What that means to you: You can cook on a lower temperature so there is less chance of burning and sticking on the bottom.
Is more better than less? Yes and No. If you have a thicker “inner core” of aluminum the pan will heat up faster which is nice BUT it also takes longer to cool down so if you leave the grilled cheese sandwich or the sauce in the pan, it will burn or overcook...even if you take the pan off of the burner!
Buzz word: Encapsulated Base
What it means technically: A Tri-Ply (read description above) is bonded onto the bottom of a cooking vessel.
Why do they do it? To give cookware made of a thin, single metal, metal alloy or non-stick covered metal better heat distribution on the bottom of the pan.
Why do you want it? More even heat distribution for even browning/cooking.
What that means to you: The pan will heat evenly so that the pancakes on the outer edge toward the sides will be as brown as the one in the middle.
Is more better than less? Yes and No. If you have a thicker “core” of aluminum the pan will heat up faster which is nice BUT it also takes longer to cool down so if you leave the grilled cheese sandwich will burn...even if you take the pan off of the burner!
Buzz word: Cool Touch Handles
What it means technically: The handles are made of stainless steel, plastic, silicone or a material OTHER THAN Tri-Ply stainless, aluminum or copper. The handle is also attached in such a way that that limited metal touches the vessel; usually the handle is “forked” at the end near the vessel.
Why do they do it? To keep the heat from the pot (vessel) from traveling down the length of the handle.
What that means to you: It's safer and you do not need to use a pot holder.
Disclaimer: If you cook over gas heat OR if the handle extends over another hot burner OR if the pan is in the oven...IT WILL GET HOT!!!
Buzz word: Riveted Handles
What it means technically: The handles are attached to the cookware with rivets rather than welded on.
Why do they do it? Less expensive than welding AND less likely to “bend”.
Why do you want it? Stronger and sturdier.
What that means to you: The handle will not bend under full, heavier pot-loads of food.
Disclaimer: Some say that welded on handles are better because they will never come un-riveted AND it is often hard to clean around the rivet but I think riveted is better because I do not like to worry about the handle bending or possibly breaking if the weld is weak.
Buzz Word: Tempered Glass Lid
What it means technically: Tempered glass is made through a process of extreme heating and is four to five times stronger than normal glass. It is usually rimmed in stainless steel.
Why do they do it? Better for high heat cooking applications.
Why do you want it? Safer because even if the glass does break, it will crackle into pebble shaped pieces rather than sharp, thin shards.
What that means to you: You have the ability to see your food through the lid without the danger of using normal glass. Plus, the stainless steel rim keeps the moisture from evaporating while cooking.
Buzz Word: Oven Safe to 400 degrees
What it means technically: That the pot and handle can go into an oven up to 400 degrees without voiding the warranty.
Why do you want it? Versatility; you can use your cookware as bakeware.
What that means to you: You can start cooking something on you stove top and then put it into the oven without dirtying another pan.
Is more better than less? Yes! Higher allowable heat is much better because, unless you are baking a cake, most recipes call for temperatures 375 and up.
Disclaimer: Just because the cookware is oven safe to 400 degrees, doesn’t mean the lid is! The lid may only go to 350 or not at all; be sure to check your manual. Also...and this is really sneaky and, in my opinion downright wrong, I have seen the pan allowed to 400 but the handle only to 350! Really??
Beware of these Words:
Limited Lifetime Warranty - usually comes with many disclaimers about things you might do that voids the warranty. Ask the salesperson or phone operator about the restrictions or go on line to the manufactures website and read it yourself.
Virtually Non Stick - is NOT non stick! When someone selling stainless steel cookware says this, it generally means “if you add a bunch of oil” or cook at the “exact right temperature” or is “seasoned” or you are a professional chef! Hard Anodized Aluminum is more non-stick that Stainless but the only surface that is non stick is...non stick!
32 - Pieces - or any number really. Remember, every lid, spoon, trivet or dish cloth counts. It’s not 32 pieces of cookware.
Check back...as I think of things I’ll add them!