If you love to cook at home, you know your best dish needs more than a recipe, stunning ingredients and direction from some Gordon Ramsay videos.
The right cookware is absolutely necessary to create a dish you are proud of, and to deliver the best flavour possible.
Have you been browsing for your cooking equipment to accompany your next cuisine adventure? Perhaps you’ve already overused some of your existing cookware? Or maybe you’re looking to cook something which you simply can’t with your current cookware?
Whether you’ve been cooking for a while or just recently started becoming the chef at your household, it’s always good to be aware of the mistakes to avoid when you’re planning to buy cookware.
Let’s look at the 5 biggest mistakes that Australians make when choosing cookware, so that you can make the right decision for your kitchen.
Mistake #1 Not Understanding Your Cooking Goals
Perhaps you first started cooking because you became interested in a particular style of cooking, or you are comfortable with one style based on past experience.
Since there are so many different ways to cook, it’s a good idea to determine what you’ll cook the most, what and how you’re planning to cook, and then determine what you need for cookware. Otherwise, you could end up wasting money buying the wrong cookware.
That doesn’t mean you can’t change your cooking goals or explore new styles of cooking. But we recommend selecting a few categories to start with, for example baking stews or making stir-fries, to help you narrow down what sort of cookware would best fulfill those requirements.
Some questions to ask to help you decide:
- Are you looking to cook something quick and easy only? Or are you looking to bring out the best flavour possible?
- Do you like to cook in bulk rather than singular dishes?
- Are you more into main courses or appetizers, or a particular type of cuisine such as soups?
By knowing what you’ll be doing with the cookware, you’ll be in a better position to choose the one that meets your goals.
Mistake #2 Going For The Cheapest One You Can Find
Let’s say you’re grocery shopping at your local Coles or Woolworths, and you spot a frying pan on sale in the cookware aisle. At the low price of just $15, you think to yourself: “This is a real bargain! I’ll take it!”
That may suit some of your needs but true quality comes with a price. By choosing the cheapest cookware you can find, or picking up a pan because it’s convenient to get it at your local store, you could risk buying cookware that would only last you a few weeks or months before you need to buy another.
Even worse, you could choose cookware that will spoil your cooking efforts, or won’t bring out the full flavour of your ingredients.
When you’re planning to buy cookware, it’s always recommended to purchase something durable. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive but it should be a quality product that’s fairly priced. For instance, choosing an aluminum pan could spell trouble despite its low price, since it tends to warp at high temperatures.
Another consideration is whether the cookware contains harmful chemicals. Non-stick coating, for instance, is made from man-made chemicals used as a surface for pans and other cookware. While it isn’t proven that non-stick coating releases those chemicals when heated, it’s still a concern that there are such ingredients in cookware. Another example is copper, which tends to give food a metallic taste and leave it discolored, and creates a risk of ingesting copper compounds.
You want to choose cookware that’s durable enough to withstand years of cooking, without risking the health of you and your family.
Mistake #3 Ability To Retain and Distribute Heat
Cookware that is a great conductor is especially important if you care about the flavour of the food you cook. That means having cookware that distributes heat evenly across the pot or pan, and retains heat to ensure proper cooking temperature.
If your cookware doesn’t retain and distribute heat properly, you could end up with certain parts of the meal cooked unevenly, or not at all. That won’t impress your family and friends, and could even be dangerous if food isn’t cooked to the right temperature.
For example, if you’re cooking stew or soup, you need a pot that’s large enough for all the ingredients, while also heating evenly throughout the pot, and retaining that heat for long periods of time.
Another reason to choose cookware that retains heat is for serving purposes, to get the dish from the oven to the table. Once you’ve finished cooking a casserole, for instance, the right cookware will keep it hot while you serve your family or guests, and will still be hot when they go for their second helping.
The best type of cookware on the market right now that heats evenly and retains its heat for long periods of time is cast iron cookware, followed by stainless steel cookware.
Mistake #4 Choosing Something Other Than Non-Stick Cookware
This is a bigger problem for some dishes than others, for instance eggs. If you have a pan that sticks, the quality, flavour and texture of your meal will be impacted. You’ll also have a lot of work ahead cleaning the pan, and the lifespan of the cookware could even be impacted.
But even with non-stick cookware, you need to carefully consider which option is best. Some cookware that’s advertised as non-stick also comes with the added risk of toxic chemicals that could harm your food quality, lead to digestive problems and more.
Non-stick coating is once again an example in this regard. While it’s known for its non-stick properties, it also contains man-made chemicals that create that surface. Even though it is inexpensive and easy to clean, there is the risk that it may release harmful chemicals into food or the air while you cook.
A better option and one we recommend is cookware that is naturally non-stick, such as cast iron cookware, which also has health benefits such as naturally adding iron into foods.
Mistake #5 Lack Of Versatility
While you may be comfortable with one type of cooking, that likely won’t last long. As humans, we like variety, and we won’t be satisfied with eating one type of cuisine for long. Tonight you may cook pasta but tomorrow you may want to eat risotto or beef stew.
If you have an extremely large kitchen, and a budget to match, you may want to have different cookware for every kind of dish you plan on making. However, if you don’t want 100 different kitchen utensils, and you’d like cookware that’s versatile enough to meet different cooking goals as well as match the previous 4 considerations, you want to choose cookware that’s versatile and high quality.
For instance, having a large pot will meet many of your cooking needs, allowing you to cook soup, stew or any other dishes that require a lot of simmering. It would be ideal if this pot could be used on the stovetop or in the oven. It would also be suitable for those with a large family or those who entertain and need to cook larger meals.
Another kitchen need is a pan for more general use, allowing you to cook eggs, fry a steak, and more.
Avoid the 5 Mistakes With This Solution
A highly versatile choice in cookware is the Fresh Australian Kitchen 5.2 litre Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven. This popular product, which often sells out, gives you 2 cast iron cookware pieces in one.
Its 2-in-1 versatility provides you with a 5.2 litre pot and a 25-inch skillet that doubles as a lid for the pot. That means you can sear, fry, bake, grill, broil, braise, simmer and sauté anything. You can also use these products indoors and outdoors, on gas, electric or induction stovetops, in the oven and even on barbecues or campfires.
It is also pre-seasoned and ready to use straight from the box, with a naturally non-stick surface that makes cooking effortless, adds flavour, and is easy to clean and maintain. And cast iron is known for its even heat distribution and for retaining heat.
You can meet the requirements to achieve all your cooking goals, receive a quality product at a fair price, and have heat distribution and non-stick properties with the versatility you need for any type of dish.
Final Thoughts on Choosing Cookware
Whether you need new cookware or you’re just setting up your home kitchen, it’s important to consider these 5 potential mistakes so that you don’t waste your money. After all, you want to receive the best value for the money you’re spending.
This high-quality dutch oven with a lid that doubles as a skillet will ensure you don’t make the most common mistakes Australians make when choosing cookware, all at a reasonable cost for the quality you will receive.