Tag Archives: cast iron

Cookware guide

Choosing Cookware: Which Material is Right for Your Kitchen?

In the kitchen, it’s important to have the right type of cookware to fit your kitchen needs. However, there are so many choices out there, it can be a struggle to understand which material works best for you. With some help from our vendor partner Vollrath, here is a look at a few different types of cookware, and the benefits they bring to the table.

AluminumCookware guide

Aluminum cookware can be used on both gas and electric surfaces. Aluminum is a porous metal, which means it is very responsive to temperature changes, heating up or cooling down quickly. According to Vollrath’s construction materials guide, this type of cookware is lightweight, but may be susceptible to warping and denting. Aluminum cookware is highly reactive to acidic foods, which may alter the flavor and color of some foods. Aluminum is more affordable, and can be cleaned with low alkaline detergents. Find aluminum cookware here.

Stainless SteelCookware Guide

Stainless steel is a non-porous metal. It heats and cools slower and more unevenly than aluminum. However, stainless steel is a great option because it is a non-reactive surface, thus providing flavor neutrality. Also, stainless steel will not pit from the use of heavily acidic foods. According to Vollrath, many chefs feel like they can release more of the caramelized fat on the bottom of a pan back into the sauce they are preparing, which makes the sauce more flavorful. It is recommended to wash stainless steel pans by hand in hot, soapy water. You can find stainless steel pans here.

Cast IronCookware guide

When you talk heavy duty, look no further. Cast iron pans conduct heat more slowly than stainless steel. However, they maintain heat well. Vollrath states it is a favorite for braising or stewing meats. Cast iron must be hand washed and dried thoroughly to prevent rust, and it requires constant seasoning to create a non-stick surface on the pan. Seasoning is done by applying oil or fat to the pan and heating through to bond the fat to the metal. The biggest benefit of cast iron is that if it is taken care of and seasoned properly, the cookware can last almost a lifetime. Find cast iron pans here.

Carbon SteelCookware Guide

Carbon steel cookware is designed for high heat applications. It is thinner and lighter than cast iron, and transmits heat quickly. It is a ferrous metal, so it works well with induction cooking. Carbon steel cookware can typically be used in an oven or under a broiler. Like cast iron, however, carbon steel pans need to be seasoned. Find carbon steel pans here.

Clad CookwareCookware Guide

Clad cookware combines the advantages of stainless steel with that of aluminum. Typically, clad cookware is made of aluminum sandwiched by a stainless steel interior for flavor protection, and a layer of stainless steel on the outside for induction capabilities. There are two types of cookware: fully clad and clad bottom. Vollrath says that fully clad cookware spreads the heat evenly at the bottom and up the side walls. Clad bottom heats primarily at the base of the pan. Both types need to be washed by hand in hot, soapy water.

Find Cookware at Central

You can find all of these types of cookware and more at Central Restaurant Products. Click here to see our full offering.

Frying pans: everything you never wanted to know (but should!)

Remember when there was only one kind of frying pan?

Okay, I don’t either, but in light of all the advancements in material, cooking styles and food trends, I thought it might be a good idea to offer a crash course in frying pans, including the different types of material, size, usage, and care and maintenance of your frying pans.

Here we go.

Material and construction

Nonstick. “Nonstick” usually refers to a surface coated with a layer of calphalon, anodized aluminum, or sometimes a proprietary material to keep foods from sticking to the pan while cooking. Another pro: Nonstick pans can be used for lower-calorie cooking because additional oil is not required. Con: May not be as durable as a natural finish due to natural wear-and-tear in a restaurant environment.

Natural. A pan with a natural stainless steel or aluminum finish allows for fast, even heating and can often stand up to heavier abuse in the kitchen than pans with a nonstick coating.

Hard Coat. Some brands advertise a “hard coat” finish, which simply means the pan has an additional layer of anodized aluminum (meaning, aluminum hardened by oxidation) making the surface more durable and resistant to scratches and wear.

Induction-ready. Because induction cooking generates heat via an electromagnetic current, the induction cookware must have a magnetic element to conduct heat. Normally induction fry pans have a layer of carbon steel or magnetic stainless steel. Induction cookware has superior heating capabilities and is ideal for use in buffet and catering environments because there is no open flame.

Carbon Steel. As mentioned above, carbon steel can be used for induction cooking. It conducts heat quickly and evenly, and is also safe for use on gas or electric cook tops, or in an oven or broiler.

Cast Iron. Cast iron is also a sturdy material than conducts and holds heat well. It is heavy, durable, and lasts for years with the proper care. Make sure that your cast iron skillet is properly seasoned before using to prevent oxidation and ensure a nonstick surface.

Copper. Copper cookware is making a comeback, due to its superior heat conduction. It is often combined with a layer of stainless steel for added durability.

Size, Shape and Usage

Ribbed vs. smooth. A ribbed pattern in the pan helps drain away fat and creates grill marks for a more appealing presentation.

French Style. A French style fry pan has a balanced handle and specially curved edge for easily tossing ingredients in the pan.

Woks. A wok is used for stir-frying and traditional Chinese cooking. The pan is wide and round. Woks are most commonly constructed from carbon steel or cast iron.

Cleaning

When cleaning nonstick cookware, or any piece that has additional coating, don’t use abrasive or steel wool sponges or scrubbers, as they will scratch the coating. The best technique is to use soapy water and dry thoroughly.

Never put a hot pan immediately into cold water– this will cause cracking and wear.

Sometimes soaking nonstick cookware in soapy water can actually cause the coating to retain a soapy flavor. Remove stains with a little baking soda or bleach water and rinse immediately with hot water.

Cast iron fry pans should not rust or wear if properly seasoned. Clean cast iron by letting it cool, washing with a little soap and water (never let it soak, as this will break down the seasoning) and dry thoroughly. Then place the clean, dry pan on a warm burner and lightly oil the inside of the pan with a neutral cooking oil.

Just like aluminum, copper cookware can change color with use and exposure to air. Wash with soap and water and remove tarnish with a mixture of salt and lemon juice or a commercial copper polish. Be careful to remove any mixture or polish by rinsing thoroughly and drying.

Storage

Never put any piece of cookware away without thoroughly drying it. Store fry pans with the lids off, especially in humid climates. If needed, store with a paper towel in the pan to absorb any excess moisture.