Materials Make a Difference
Consumers often see and hear lots of confusing terms when shopping for cookware and bakeware. Here’s a look at some common terms and their simple explanations from the Cookware Manufacturers Association (CMA).
- Clad: In most cases, clad means that a pan is made of three, five or as many as nine separate pieces of metal that have been fused together. Usually, the inside and outside of the pan are made of stainless while the inside layers are made of a magnetic or more conductive material such as copper or aluminum. Sometimes, clad only refers to the bottom of a stainless steel pan, where conductive material has been attached to improve heat transfer.
- Hard-coat anodized: This is created by an electro-chemical process that transforms the normally soft surface of nearly pure aluminum into a hard, scratch-resistant surface. Hard-coat anodizing is not the same as nonstick coating. Unless advised by the manufacturer, do not place anodized cookware inside the dishwasher where harsh alkali environment can damage the finish.
- Nonstick coatings: All nonstick coatings are not the same. Bakeware often has a silicone finish applied to the entire pan. These finishes work fine at oven temperatures and help to release high-sugar-content baked items. Most quality cookware features PTFE (polytetrafloruoethylene) finishes. These are durable, high-temperature resistant coatings. Sometimes the coatings are reinforced to provide resistance to scratching and can come in one-, two- or three-coat finishes. There are also nonstick finishes that are not PTFE-based. These may not have the release characteristics expected by consumers and may be considered more "stick-resistant" than nonstick.
- Pre-seasoned: Often seen on cast iron cookware labels, this usually refers to a wax-based coating to keep the pan from rusting between its manufacture and purchase. Some pans now come truly seasoned so they can be used right out of the box. If not through, cast iron pans should seasoned before their first use to assure good results. Quality manufacturers will include complete recommended instructions.
- Oven-safe: Pans are only completely oven safe if they have metal instead of plastic handles. For non-metallic handles, the use and care instructions should explain the temperature limits of the pan. When in doubt, don’t use cookware inside the oven. Also, consumers should know that silicone handles, which may insulate when the pan is on top of the stove, will get hot when placed in the overn. Use caution!
- Stay-cool handles: Metal handles are usually designed so air can freely circulate around the handle, helping it stay cooler so the pan can be placed in a hot oven. While the handle may be cooler than the pan side, it may still be too warm to be handled without a potholder, particularly when it’s used to sauté or fry foods or when the dish has been simmering for a long time.
Remember to look for the CMA seal when shopping for kitchenware to assure you’re purchasing optimally designed and manufactured cookware.