Odds are, if your kitchen cupboards are like most Australian households, you have more pots and pans than you really need. We can help you resolve your overcrowded cupboard problem, because we know pots and pans. After all, our test kitchens are stocked with more than 680 of them! We've researched all shapes, sizes and finishes to find the most essential pots and pans for your own kitchen. All you really need is four: a stockpot, saucepan, roasting pan and fry pan. This will help simplify things in the kitchen and cut down on clutter. "Having the right pot and pan is more important than the aesthetics of a matching set," says Expert Trish McKenzie. So, we recommend the best material for each piece. With these basics, you'll always have a handle on any culinary situation.
Soup Or Stockpot
- Ideal for cooking corn on the cob, pasta, mussels and other similar dishes.
- Tall and narrow shape minimizes evaporation during long periods of cooking.
- Look for 8-12 litre capacity with large sturdy handles that allow you to drain liquids easily from the pot.
- For even cooking, not to mention easy clean-up, we recommend a stainless steel model with a heavy aluminum base.
2 Litre Saucepan
- .Great for cooking sauces, rice, macaroni, or for reheating soups.
- Straight-sided shape with perfectly flat bottom ensures it sits on burner without wobbling.
- Purchase a pot made from thick, heavy-weight material since thinner pots don't hold the heat evenly.
- We suggest stainless steel with a heavy aluminum base for this multi-purpose pan.
- Used for roasting beef, turkey, ham, lamb and chicken. It can also double as a lasagne pan.
- This pan forces the warm air of the oven to surround meat. Rack inserts hold meat out of the drippings and contribute to good air circulation.
- Look for a pan that is two inches larger in dimension than the size of the meat you normally cook, as this allows for better air circulation.
- We recommend choosing an aluminum model with a non-stick surface.
30cm Fry Pan
- High, slightly sloping sides make this pan great for frying eggs and pancakes, making stir-fries and creating many other dishes.
- If you're buying one, consider a heavyweight, heat-conducting, non-stick pan. These are easier to clean and less fat is required for browning.
- Get one with a fitted lid for even more versatility.
- For fast-frying and no-fuss washing, we recommend an aluminum, non-stick version.
Extend the "shelf life" of your pots and pans with our simple care suggestions:
- If cooking with gas, adjust the flame so that it does not rise up the side of the pot or pan.
- Don't allow cookware to boil dry and never leave an empty pan on a hot burner.
- Follow manufacturer directions and warranty guidelines concerning care for best results.
- Allow cookware to cool before placing it in water to avoid warping.
- Hand wash cookware in non-abrasive dish soap with a soft sponge or cloth. For more vigorous cleaning, use a nylon or plastic abrasive pad.
Although we've made our recommendations for each pot or pan above, you may want to try another material or read up on your own collection. Here are some features of common types:
Aluminum comes in all price ranges, but hard anodized versions are remarkably more durable. Avoid lightweight thin gauge (14 gauge) since it may warp. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor. Less expensive varieties may become corroded or discoloured when cooking with acidic or salty foods.
It's a versatile material used for a variety of cooking methods. It doesn't pit or corrode and won't react with acidic or alkaline cleansers or ingredients. Stainless steel doesn't conduct heat as well as other metals, so look for pots and pans with thick aluminum or copper bottoms to compensate.Cast IronIt's heavy and doesn't conduct heat quickly, but once it's heated, it distributes heat uniformly and retains it well. Cast iron is perfect for browning, frying, simmering and stewing. The price is right and the surface can be made non-stick if seasoned with oil and then heated in the oven.
Technology has improved so much that even professional chefs won't be caught without at least one of these types in their kitchens. Non-stick is ideal for sticky foods such as omelettes and for cooking with less added fat.
This is the best material for cookware as it conducts heat very well. It heats up and cools down very quickly, making it the perfect material for use in cooking delicate sauces and candy recipes. On the downside, copper is more pricey than the other materials. It also requires considerable care and maintenance.