Bakeware and Cookware - Kitchen Utensils, Kitchenware, Gadgets and Accessories

Bakeware and Cookware

The array of bakeware and cookware you'll find in today's kitchens are all offsprings of the open-fire method of cooking, which still exists in the form of roasting kits. The first cooking vessels were possibly inspired by leaves or earth wrapped around meat before exposure to flames or hot embers.

Cookware made from pottery are some of the earliest relics of human civilization and represents the advance of waterproofing and heat-proofing techniques like glazing and kiln-baking. Other cooking utensils and heating containers were created from mollusk and turtle shells, bamboo tubes and hollowed stone.

The advent of metallurgy led to the steady adoption of ironware, cauldrons, baking pans and skillets as part of cookware. Brass, copper, aluminum and stainless steel allowed the creation of many different types of kettles, tongs, and baking tools. Glass makers also contributed to the many forms of cookware and bakeware popular in our times.

Mass production and the development of new materials like pyroglass and teflon coating have increased the versatility and ease of use of everyday kitchen tools, even as traditional methods continue to hold the interest of specialist artisan craft collectors.

Overview on common materials in cookware and bakeware

A narrow range of alloys are used in most pots and pans because of two reasons: the metal must conduct heat efficiently and must either be responsive to heat source adjustments/retain heat well, and having food in contact with the metal's surface must not cause potentially poisonous chemical reactions or unpalatable flavors.

Copper: easily molded and excellent as a heat conductor (hence its use in kettles), copper vessels are frequetly tinned or layered with a less reactive metal so that they are rendered safe for cooking purposes. Western cookware highlights the good thermal qualities of copper cookware, but re-lining of the protective layer is often needed for durable pieces.

Aluminum: lighter than iron or steel, conducts well and rust-resistant, cookware made of this material must be kept away from acidic food, egg yolks and some greens. Aluminium cooking vessels are available in sheet, cast or anodized metal forms.

Sheet aluminum is alloyed with magnesium, bronze or copper to increase its strength, and is used mostly for bakeware and skillets. Cast aluminum is thicher and can be found in heavy-set pans, saucepots and slow cookers. Anodized cookware is non-reactiev and can be used for roasters, saute pans, and stockpots.

Cast Iron: provides slow warm-up but even heating. Its resistance to high temperature makes it a good material for searing pans and grills. However, be wary of cooking acidic side dishes like tomatoes and spinach, or using wine on a cast iron skillet. A thin layer of shortening, fat and carbon is used to prime a cast iron vessel's surface for cooking.

Stainless Steel: one of the most common cookware materials, containing at leat 11.5% chromium to prevent corrosion. This metal does not react with food acids and resists wear and tear. To increase heat response, stainless steel cooking vessels may be made with a copper or aluminium base.

Carbon Steel: often found in woks and bakeware/cookware that need to cook ingredients at different heat settings. Like cast iron, carbon steel cookware needs to be seasoned before use.

Enamel: enamelware usually contains a core of cast iron, allowing cookware to retain heat and hold food in a stable, non-sticky environment.

Enamel and steel: best used with water-based cooking methods, and much lighter and cheaper than pure carbon steel. Camper kits and stockpots are frequently made from enameled steel.

Coatings and Clads: copper costs a lot more than aluminum, but clad pots and pans enable kitchens to sport the appeal of copper surfaces. Teflon eases cleaning up for many cooks, but require care in use.

Glass and Ceramics: most often found on bakeware, as oven temperatures are more evenly distributed and lower than open flames. Combinations of glass and ceramics can take extreme temperature changes in stride.

Silicone: thanks to filler material, silicone-based bakeware can hold together up to temperaures near 500 degrees Celcius, and are easy to remove from finished baked goods. Silicone bakeware is different from silicone resin, which is used for shatterproof dishes and is not meant for oven use.