Best Stainless Steel Cookware – Reviews and More

Cooking with animal hides was a great start but not very durable or efficient.  The first vessels used for cooking date back to Neolithic tribes in Great Britain.   They used rough pottery to stew large pieces of meat.  The clay pots could not stand up to direct heat, but they were a much better option for thorough cooking of meat then the animal hides that were strung up over a fire.  It was like cooking stone soup.  First, the water and meat were placed in the clay pot and hot stones were placed in to heat the water.  As you can imagine this was a long process.

In the Bronze Age, around 5000 B.C., the Irish copied the clay cooking pots and made the first cauldrons out of copper and bronze.  The round design allowed the flames to curl up around the sides heating the contents more evenly and quickly.  The only way they could adjust the heat was to change the distance to the flames so food could not be slow cooked around the edge of the fire or brought to a hard boil quickly directly over the fire.  As the Iron Age came into being the copper was swapped out for the much stronger iron.  Iron’s durability and lower cost to make quickly made iron the dominating material over copper or bronze.

At about the same time as the invention of the cauldron, earthenware or iron cooking pots were invented.  The word pot is derived from the fact they were mostly used for cooking pottage / soup. The Romans’ or Saxsons’ pots differed from cauldrons in that they were similar to a jar, tall, narrow, a lipped or un-lipped, usually lidded, and had carrying handles on the sides.

Skillets, posnets, and pipkins evolved from the modern saucepan date back to the 13th century.  The originals were made of bronze or iron, had long legs to stand in the fire embers.  It took around 300 years for these pans to evolve into what we know today.

By the 18th century, the design of cookware really grew.  Pots were now made of copper, iron or cast iron outside but were lined with tin.  The lining was important because it was discovered that copper leached poisonous chemicals into food and unlined cast iron pots would rust. Unfortunately, over time it was found that the tin naturally contained lead which is also poisonous.  Because tin was so hard to refine and remove this lead, alternative materials for lining had to be found.

In the 19th century, pans were able to be enameled.  This works so well that it is still used in some cookware sets today.  It was also during the 19th century that cookware manufacturing started to become highly competitive.  Brands started marking their products and catalogs were produced.  Over time it was discovered that the enamel lining was not a good match with iron because it heated at a slower rate than iron and this would break the durability of the enamel. Another problem with the enameled lined pans was that iron heats unevenly and often cause food to burn or over boil.  Out of frustration enamel lined pans were pretty much thrown out the window as being useful.  Steel and aluminum pans rose up to fill the void.

Reasonably priced aluminum cookware was very popular until the 1980’s when it was suggested that aluminum was a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.  It has never actually been proven but people reacted with a knee jerk reaction, and aluminum was the next form of cookware that was pushed aside.  Stainless steel was there to fill that void.  Production was increased in the Far East bringing the price for stainless steel cookware to far less than other pans on the market.  It is still one of the most popular materials used in cookware. It has proven to be durable, good looking and most importantly rust resistant.  Copper and aluminum have been added to the outside of many stainless steel pans for better heat distribution.  This metal combination has allowed stainless steel to retain a strong standing in the cookware market.

Cookware Brands

Calphalon – started in 1963 when Ronald Kasperzak purchased a small metal spinning company, Commercial Metal.  He bought it with the intention of expanding and upgrading the limited line of service industry cookware.

Cook N Home – An American company based in California.  Their mission is to design top-quality cookware products.

Cuisinart is owned by Conair Corporation. The company started in 1971 with a food processor. It has now become a widely respected name of quality kitchen appliance and gadgets.

Farberware – started in 1900 by S W Farber, a tinsmith.  He started in a small basement shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  He would pound copper and brass sheets into bowls and vases.  In the 1930’s he expanded into appliances with the introduction of a percolator. This company still prides itself on quality, classic styling, tradition, reliability and value as their foundation even though S W Farber has long since passed away.

T-fal – Marc Gregoire, a French man, was very wise.  He listened to his wife.  She urged him to use the Teflon coat he put on his fishing gear on her pans.  That was back in 1954.  In 1956 T-fal was created to produce non-stick cookware.

WearEver – introduced to offer cookware made from aluminum in 1903.  It revolutionized cookware in America with its light weight and ability to resist rust.  It seemed to wear-for-ever. They believe their products are so good they are guaranteed for life.

The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

     1. T-fal C836SC Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware Set, 12-Pieces, Silver  

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set for  $$

T-fal U836SC Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware Set is made with their signature non-stick surface. Clean-up is a breeze and is dishwasher safe.  The non-stick surface is scratch resistant and durable.  So durable you can use metal utensils and not fear scratching the surface.  All pans use T-fal Thermo-Spot heat indicators showing when the pan is perfectly preheated.   Adding food after proper preheating ensures natural juices in meat, poultry, and fish remain locked inside for a moist and delicious finish.

     2. Cuisinart 77-11G Chef’s Classic Stainless 11-Piece Cookware Set

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set for Stove to Oven or Freezer Use  $

Cuisinart 77-11G Chef’s Classic Stainless Cookware Set will not let users down.  It stands up to the Cuisinart reputation as a leader in kitchenware.  Cuisinart has added a Cool Grip handle preventing accidental burning when rushing in the kitchen.  You can put these pans safely in the oven in temperatures up to 500oF giving you the ability to seer your meet on the stove and finish the cooking in the oven or broiler.

     3. Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Set

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set for Smaller Pockets  $

Cook N Home’s 12 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set will always look as good as it cooks with mirror polish inside and out.  To maintain an even heat distribution, the bottom is capsulated making it great to use on any stove; electric, gas or glass top.

     4. Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set for Your Money $$

Cuisinart comes in with the MCP – 12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set again not disappointing its users.  The polished cooking surfaces will not discolor, react with food or alter flavors. This set also includes the Cool Grip handles for safety.  The Triple-Ply bottom uses aluminum as its core for rapid heating and retention. This set is also oven safe up to 500oF.

     5. WearEver A834S9 Cook and Strain Stainless Steel Cookware Set, 10-Piece, Silver

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set for Life Long Use $$

WearEver’s A834S9 Cook and Strain Stainless Steel Cookware Set will do just that wear-for-ever. They back their products with lifetime guarantee.  They are very durable.  Their easy grip handles are safe enough to put in the oven up to 500oF.  These pans can stand up to all your cooking challenges and still look great.

Honorable Mentions

Buying the right stainless steel cookware set can be so confusing that we felt we needed to add the 5 runners-up.  They may meet your needs better with size or finance.

·         WearEver A834S9 Cook and Strain Stainless Steel Cookware Set, 10-Piece, Silver $$

·         Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 13-Piece Cookware Set $$$

·         Farberware Millennium Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set $$

·         Paula Deen Signature Stainless Steel II 12-Piece Cookware Set $$

·         Farberware Classic Series Stainless Steel Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set $

Stainless Steel Cookware Buyers Guide

A cookware set is an important investment.  If you purchase the wrong set your food may burn easily, become contaminated with lead or other bad elements, not cook evenly or taste funny.  Below is a guideline as to what to look for in a cookware set that is right for you.  Keep in mind that each household has different cooking styles and tastes so what is right for one household may be totally wrong for the next.

Set vs. Open Stock – if you already own some excellent pots you may not need a full set to make your kitchen complete.  In other cases, you may have some pots that were either hand me downs or just the cheapest thing you could buy at the time to get you through college.  If you only need a few pieces, then you would purchase individual pieces or “open stock.”  If you are looking to replace those old, dingy, burnt pots and pans then the best value is in purchasing a full set.

Cooking Style – are you a foodie who loves to cook and have friends over? Is meat a staple in your diet?  Are you more of a soup and sauce person?  These all call for different materials as the foundation for your cookware.  For excellent searing, stainless steel cookware will keep those juices in your meat.  On the other hand, if you cook with a lot of tomatoes then you need to stay clear of unlined copper.  The acidity of the tomatoes will react with the copper cookware and impart it with bitterness.

What is Your Stove Top – flat bottomed pans are essential for a smooth top stove such as a glass top stove.  Rings and gas burners will cook with all types, but rounded bottom pans will allow the flames on a gas stove to hug the edges of the pot heating its contents rapidly.

Coating vs Cladding – hard coating anodize is used on soft aluminum on the external surface making it hard.    The cladding is actually several layers of metal fused together to create the cookware.  This is used enlarge to enhance heat transfer.

Learn the Parts Terminology –

Handle – metal or silicone

Rivets –  means of joining different parts together

Body – choose materials based on the types of food you cook

Rim – rolled for pouring liquids or straight for ease of tossing

Cookware Surface – nonstick or not  both have their pros and cons

Core – many sets have additional layers to enhance heating uniformity

Sides – high straight sides are ideal for simmering sauces where flared sides let the liquids evaporate and reduce.

Base – flat bases are best for flat top ranges where induction ranges need magnetic materials

Conclusion

For the true adult cook, a good set of cookware is essential.  There are many things to consider when buying cookware; how much do you cook? What types of things do you cook? Do you have some quality pieces already? Once you have your needs assessed, then you need to compare the brands, prices, and quantities.  What works best in one kitchen will not necessarily work well in your kitchen.  To make restaurant quality food or even just good nutritious food, you should get the right cookware for you.  Stainless steel cookware is durable, long lasting, perfect for browning meats but able to handle pasta sauces to stir fry. Stainless steel is ideal for dishes that require both stovetop and oven cooking.

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