which cookware to choose?

doduhdewMarch 13, 2008

hi. i just joined the forum today. we're a newly wedded couple looking for a descent cookware. we're in search of a descent cookware because we're seeing the coatings of our pan is scratched and peeling off. (yuk)

one of my wife's coworkers sell amway and i almost had a fight with my wife because she wanted so-called "healthy (and expensive) cookware" that her coworker had offerred.

i believe that we don't need expensive saladmaster or amway brand. and that we can find similar products at a fractional cost.

can anyone recommend descent cookware brands that are NOT made in China? (nothing against China but their products are somewhat...you know what i mean)

thank you for your time and i really appreciate your help. god bless you all.

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First of all, you don't need a 'set'. Decide what cooking techniques you want to accomplish and then buy individual pieces which will help you accomplish those tasks. I have a set of pots, but I only use a few items from it. While the price per pot is a little better than buying individual items, it's not much of a bargain if there are items you never use. The money would have been better spent getting exactly what I needed.

Before going any further, read the article at the link. You can then decide exactly what pieces you need or don't need. And you will know more than the average department store sales clerk who tries to tell you that you need this or that.

A big time French chef who makes very delicate temperature-sensitive sauces would need heavy copper pans like Falk Culinaire; for most people, myself included, it would be a waste of money because I rarely do anything that fancy.

If you really do want to get a set of cookware, do a search of this forum--various ones have been mentioned. Just my opinion, but I never buy anything sold in multilevel marketing schemes like Amway.

Here is a link that might be useful: understanding stovetop cookware

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I 100% agree with Arley...
To put it more simply...most people find useful a couple of good quality non stick fry pans for eggs and a quick saute of mushrooms or whatever, and a couple of stainless sauce pans...1 and2 qts and perhaps a 4 qt as well. These pans are for "boiling stuff" like eggs potatoesa few vegetables, pasta for 2...cooking a box of Kraft mac and cheese ( pretend I didn't say that!!).
And you will need a heavy dutch oven type of pot that will cook on the stove top and go into the oven...for pot roasts, soups, stews, chili etc.
And you will need a big 12 or qt stock pot for boiling corn ,making jelly, cooking pasta for 8 etc.
I like Meyer professional non stick for the skillets...$30 per...or less if you shop well.
The 2 1 and 2 qt pans can be almost anything with a clad bottom or an anodized aluminum...maybe $20 each? maybe more or less....but you don't have to spend a lot.
Now to the Dutch oven for pot roasts or stews! I like porcelain covered cast iron...and that may cost you more than $200, or you may get lucky! I have bought several for in the neighborhood of $40 to $80.
Tha lareg soup pot for corn etc can be had for about $40 to $50 if you shop the specials and outlet stores. Look for a clad bottom and heavy gauge stainless.
And I also never ever buy anything from multi-level marketers...nor at home parties!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 6:57PM
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This posting is kinda late, but neverless, this is worth your reading.
For me the best cookware is one that will not leech nor contaminate the food that you're cooking. Im sure you dont wannna eat chicken with metal nor beef with aluminum? Most pots/pans react with salts and acids, so choose one that will resist salt/acid. The most important part of a pot or pan is the inside portion or the one touching your food and I believe Stainless steel is the best, but be sure to take a high grade stainless steel. It may cost a bit higher than ordinary stainless steel, but you see, good ones are'nt really cheap.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 10:24AM
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jigs, you mention in another thread ("phenominal cookware") that you have "ample knowledge" on cookware but that you won't volunteer it unless asked. That, along with your warning here and in that thread about cookware that can contaminate food and your later advice about "high grade stainless steel," raises a red flag.

I do not agree with your implication that unless someone buys overpriced "high-grade" stainless steel, someone may be in danger.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:35AM
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Well said, Suzyq3; sounds like spam to me.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:30PM
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I call them "Expensive",and not high priced stainless steel and it all depends on your needs. If your purpose is just to cook, you have a wide variety of cookware in the market. Today, cookwares, are not just cookwares. They are our tools for safe and healthy cooking. Anyway, thanks to arley & Suzyq3.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 4:31PM
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cast iron has all the benefits of the expensive stainless steel cookware (heat retention, heats evenly, nonstick IF you season it, virtually indestructible, crispy food comes out crispy, food comes out tasting great, etc) at one tenth the cost.

Seasoning isn't hard to do at all, especially if you buy pre-seasoned pans. The only disadvantage is, it's not dishwasher safe, but that leaves your dishwasher free for more dishes.

I like that the skillet can double as a baking pan, thus saving you space in the cabinet. That's not so for most skillets.

You can use it indoors or outdoors, which is VERY handy if your power is out for 2 weeks following a hurricane! Again, not so for most skillets.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 2:01PM
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I know there hasn't been a response to this thread in about a year but there is something that I consider essential to your cookware collection that, in all likelihood, you still don't have. I just purchased a set of two different size Fagor pressure cookers, 4 quart and 8 quart that share the same pressure lid plus an additional glass lid. I am thrilled with these but I do use the smaller one more. However, I don't think I would want to be without the larger one.

So far, (please remember I don't have these for a very long time) I have made soup, pot roast and stuffed peppers. Seems odd, but everything actually tastes better to me and the texture of the pepper filling was perfect. Not so soft that it would fall apart when you cut the pepper--it actually was soft but held its shape and you could cut it into cubes. I have no idea why this is but I am concluding that it must be from the external pressure created by the steam. The pot roast was out of this world. It was fork tender and tasted incredible, I can honestly say it was the best pot roast I ever ate!

I know pressure cookers aren't as popular as they used to be but the new ones are very safe and are a pleasure to use. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:19AM
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For the most optimal cooking, you need some cookware pieces out of a few materials depending on the task at hand. Think about how you cook, would like to cook in the future, and add as your cooking matures. Many pieces can do double duty. For example, a Lodge cast iron round griddle can be used for pancakes, biscuits, grilled cheese sandwhiches....their dutch ovens can simmer beef burgundy and also be used to deep fry.

I have mostly Lodge cast iron pans and absolutely LOVE them. You do have to follow the care instructions and it does take time to season them well to make them non-stick. Frying foods initially in them is the best way to get a good seasoning coat on them. I use grapeseed oil and fry potatoes, etc. in that. It is a healthy oil and has a high smoke point. Cast iron makes the best corn bread and bisquits as well. They can be used for cooking over a campfire. Bonus...these are made in the U.S.A.

I use All Clad for my some of acid based cooking and for boiling water, vegetables, etc. I have tried both their straight stainless and their copper core. I am slowly adding a few pieces of the copper core, and only those which I will use all the time. The copper core is the best as it it extremely temperature responsive. It costs more than the plain stainless, but is worth it. Don't get me wrong, their plain stainless is very good. The copper core is excellent. Bonus...these are made in the U.S.A. Sometimes you can find a new piece that is an "introductory" price at a place like Williams Sonoma. By this I mean that the particular piece is priced way below some of the other pieces similar in size and use, like a 3 qt. saute and simmer pan being much less expensive than the 4 qt., for example.

My other favorite pieces are the Le Cruset enameled cast iron. They are made in France. Again, pricey, but purchase a piece or two and add to them if needed. I love the small (I think it is about 2 quarts) dutch oven for cooking rice in. It makes perfect rice. The other sized dutch ovens are excellent for tomatoe based stews and chilis. They make the best long simmered spaghetti sauce, without sticking on the bottom of the pot (if cooked on low heat). Sauces and stews cook the best in cast iron. If they are heavily tomatoe based, they need to be cooked in enameled cast iron until your non enameled pieces are seasoned for years.

I believe the Lodge enameled cast iron is made in China, and if so I would stay away from that and get the Le Cruset. The Lodge non enameled is made in the U.S.

All of these are not cheap cookware. I firmly believe they are the best available, and have a proven track record. I wouldn't even begin to consider another brand. I know that's very opinionated, but I cook from scratch and have been cooking a good many years.

If you invest in the best from the get-go, they will last you a lifetime with proper care, and will still be going strong when your children inherit them. I tried the cheap stuff once. They cook foods horribly. I would also stay completely away from non stick coatings.

I would rather have 3 or 4 excellent pieces of cookware than 12 pieces of a lesser brand. Also beware of the hype that surrounds someone selling cookeware.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 1:35PM
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I realize that is is very late in the game, but I just came across this set the other day and thought I'd post for when this thread cycles back to the bottom yet is found via 'search.'

Walmart (yes, I really said Walmart, not remotely a fan, but sometimes you can't avoid it) has a set of cookware by Tramontina that was created after the Cook's Illustrated Magazine 'dream set' of vital cookware. It has a mix of stainless steel tri ply 2,4 and 12 qt. pots with lids, (read stainless exterior, aluminum conductive interior all the way up the sides, and a stainless cooking surface) a cast iron skillet 12" a stainless, tri-ply saute pain 12", a 10" non-stick hard anodized saute pan, and an enameled dutch oven, 6.5 quarts.

It is currently priced at around $290.00. I dont' think you can outfit yourself better for less money. Most of these pans you never have to buy again.

Now, I know the Tramontina is made in China and that was, quite reasonably, one of the original posters big bads. That being said, the tri-ply Tramontina cookware, and their enameled Dutch oven both came in second place in Cook's Illustrated tests, behind All-Clad and Le Creuset respectively. Probably the non-stick 10" in the set will fail in a few years, but can be replaced with a higher quality non-stick product from another brand as cash flow allows.

I have several of the Tramontina tri-ply pots (1.5, 2, and 8 qt.) I like them very much --not quite as good as the All-Clad stuff I have, but at times it's a photo finish. The are great for liquids, and hold a simmer beautifully. No burned bottoms or boil overs.

Just thought I'd add this to the discussion in case someone starting out is searching!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 3:53PM
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There are good products, and there are bad products from China. There are many items that have come over here from China that have fairly high levels of lead in them. I would not personally buy cookware from China, because I would find it extremely difficult to ever trust it. This is my opinion, and I realize it is strongly stated. It is not meant to hurt anyone's feelings.

I feel it is much better to start out with a few basic pieces that are high quality, made in the U.S.A., and that can be added to as time and finances permit. I also have pieces from France, and I feel those are fine. They have very strict standards as well. Like you though, I prefer to purchase items made in my own country when I can get them. I will even pay more for them simply because they are made here, and support our own people.

I have purchased sets, and usually there are pieces from it taking up space that I never use. However, I've decided that some of my children would most likely be thrilled receiving some of those pieces. For example, I've never used my Le Cruset oval dutch oven. I just like round ones for some reason. My son will be thrilled to get it, and use it. So, unless you are positive you will use all of the pieces in the set, you may not really be saving any money that way.

For most cooking (not for boiling water for pasta, or high acid foods until WELL seasoned) you can't beat Lodge cast iron, and it is very reasonably priced. I just re-heated some leftover quiche on my Lodge griddle in the oven, and it crisped the crust back up nicely. It was as good today as it was yesterday. A 10 inch skillet, a griddle, a five quart dutch oven and a muffin pan would be a good place to start. Do not get cast iron made in China.

A couple sizes of stainless saucepans and a stockpot added to those, and you're in business. When funds are tight and you need more pieces, let relatives know what cookware you'd like as a gift, or gift certificates to your favorite stores that carry them.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:58PM
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James Beard said "There is no economy in cheap cookware" in his book "Theory and Practice of Good Cooking" which I read after graduating from college in the "70s. I took his advice to heart and started collecting All Clad cookware and have not regretted it for moment. I bought one piece at a time when an item I wanted went on sale so it did not break the bank. I'm still using the original skillet I started with and it is still as good as the day I bought it. I have also bought a couple of Staub pieces as well.

If I had bought cheaper cookware, I would have replaced it at least once or twice by now, thus speding more than buying good quality to begin with, not to mention food cooks better in quality cookware.

FWIW and to each his own.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 2:10PM
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Hi just thought I'd pop in to mention, the Tramontina cookware now bears the NSF stamp.

From the NSF web site,

"Most importantly for you, NSF Certification is not a one-time activity. We do not just test a single model of a product and give it our okay. Our certification programs require regular on-site inspections of the manufacturing facilities. In addition, certified products are periodically re-tested against the requirements of the most current version of the applicable national standard. If for any reason a product fails to meet one or more of our certification criteria, we will take whatever enforcement actions we deem necessary to protect the public, including product recall, public notification, or de-certification."


    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 12:20PM
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No foreign made cookware will ever come close to U.S.A. made cookware, in terms of quality, cooking performance, and safety.

China has not had a good track record for safety and ethics in products they ship here. It is impossible to monitor them completely, regardless of good intentions.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:20PM
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"No foreign made cookware will ever come close to U.S.A. made cookware, in terms of quality, cooking performance, and safety."

Wow. Pretty broad brush there. I'd stack my Belgian-made Viking, French made Bourgeat, Cordon Bleu, and Mauviel up against anything manufactured in the U.S.. I bet the Demeyere owners feel similarly. Now, when it comes to items manufactured in China, I, too, am skeptical. One is probably safe with CIA Masters. Other brands are a crapshoot.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:29PM
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And let's not forget Sitram stainless which is made in France, and NSF certified. Has a welded handle, therefore no screws/bolts inside the pan to catch food/dirt. But then, I've been using it only 35 years, so how can I judge:)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 10:15AM
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