Cookware Buying Guide
Types of Hob
All cookware is suitable for use on gas hobs. When using cookware on gas hobs ensure the flame does not extend beyond the base of the pan; this can lead to warping and handle damage, not to mention wasting gas.
With either a radiant spiral fitting or a solid hot plate, electric hobs are also suitable for all cookware. Radiant spiral hobs have an open element which pans sit atop, whilst solid hot plates have the element encased inside. If you have a solid hot plate fitting ensure you purchase flat bottomed pans to maintain even heat distribution.
Similer to a solid hot plate electric hob but with a ceramic surface. These hobs also have an electric heating element underneath and, again, all types of cookware are again suitable for this style of hob. Take care when lifting pans on and off the plates as the ceramic surface is more delicate and can be damaged more easily.
Induction hobs consist of a ceramic glass surface and magnetic induction coils underneath. These hobs heat only when a magnetisable metal pan is placed upon them. The surface itself is not heated but is transferred directly to the cookware, which in turn heats the contents of the pan. The best material for these types of hobs is steel or cast iron which are highly magnetisable metals. Other materials such as copper or pure aluminium will not work on induction hobs unless they have had a magnetic base added.
Also a more delicate form of hob, care should be taken when placing pans on them to not damage the glass surface. The hob functions via halogen bulbs under the glass which give off intense bursts of heat. Thick-based pans are required for this form of hob to counteract the high heat that can be let off. Steer clear of shiny materials that will reflect the halogen light and potentially cause issues.
The term for ovens that also work as a whole heating system for the home like AGAs; cookers such as these give off a very high level of heat and again require thicker set pans to combat the hot temperatures.
A wonderfully traditional cookware material, copper is one of the best heat conductors in the world. Extremely quick to heat, this material is also renowned for its fantastic heat distribution properties which aid cooking as there are no hotspots. Whilst an excellent material for pots and pans, copper does require a certain amount of care and this type of cookware is more expensive than aluminium or stainless steel varieties. If buying copper cookware, make sure to also invest in a high quality copper cleaner to keep these pans at their best.
A fantastically lightweight metal which is ideal if you struggle manoeuvring heavy pans, aluminium is also an excellent heat conductor and is economical to buy. Whilst not as durable as copper or stainless steel pans, the majority of this cookware has a convenient non-stick coating to cut down on seasoning and clean up time.
A fabulous material to use on induction hobs, stainless steel pans are actually crafted from a variety of different metals with chromium and nickel added to stop tarnishing and rusting. Higher quality stainless steel will be listed as 18/10 which means it contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel. Although hard wearing and easy to care for, stainless steel does not conduct heat as well as other metals and therefore is sometimes bonded with other metals at the base. Make sure to thoroughly check each item's product page for the type of hob each pan can be used on; if a stainless steel pan has a copper base it will not be suitable to use with induction hobs.
Caring for your Cookware
Quality cookware has the potential to last for years, however they will only stand the test of time if you treat them with care. Here are our top tips on getting the most from your pots and pans:
- Never use metal utensils or abrasive cleaning implements on cookware; this can damage the surface and remove any non-stick coating.
- Only place pans on hobs that are the same size or smaller so as to not waste heat and to prevent the heat reaching the handle.
- Never place an empty pan on a heat source, this can also damage the pan and waste energy.
- When cleaning never put a hot pan straight into cold water as this can lead to warping. Clean them with warm soapy water, or leave stubborn stains to soak for a while.
- Whilst most cookware is dishwasher safe, it is always essential to check both the item’s product page and the care instructions when you receive the pans before washing them in this way.
- However you clean them, always ensure cookware is completely dry before storing it away safely.