Pots & Pans

21/07/2012 19:49


Cooking vessels are typically referred to as 'pots' and 'pans' but there is great variation in their actual shapes. The first pots and pans originated with the development of pottery some time prior to 20,000 BC. The early pottery vessels were not able to hold water though, but by glazing them with plant gum, and later ceramic coatings they were made watertight. In the Iron and Bronze Ages metalworking developed to the point that people started using metal for cooking vessels. By the 17th century most kitchens had metal skillets, pots, pans and a kettle made from iron, brass or copper. Advances in the 20th century led to the use of steel, stainless steel and aluminium in pots and pans.

Today there is a fantastic range of pots and pans in numerous shapes, sizes, colours and materials.

Copper ~ a widely used metal that has been mined since ancient times. Copper is considered the highest quality due to its natural shine and heat conductivity. In cooking, even heat is very important. Copper can oxidize when used to cook highly acidic foods like tomato sauces, tainting the food and resulting in copper toxicity if the food is consumed. Modern cookware prevents this by covering the copper with a thin layer of either tin or stainless steel, maintaining the heat conductivity without the chance of oxidation.

Aluminium ~ this material is popular for pot and pan sets and individual vessels as it has excellent, even heat distribution. Uncoated and un-anodized aluminium can react with certain foods, especially those with alkaline of acidic components - aluminium particles might be leached into the food.

Stainless steel ~ this is an iron alloy which is highly resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel pots and pans don't react to alkaline or acidic foods. Stainless steel's only drawback for cooking use is that it is a relatively poor heat conductor. So stainless steel cookware is generally made with a disk of copper or aluminum in or on the base to conduct the heat across the base.

Titanium ~ most pots and pans that claim to be made from titanium are actually aluminium, but strengthened by firing particles of titanium at high speeds at them to create a strong base, which then has a non-stick coating applied.

Cleaning ~

Stainless steel pans with copper bottoms are quite a decorative addition to the kitchen, but over time the copper can become tarnished. Giving the Copper bottom pans a good clean will restore the shine and beauty of them.

A lemon cut in half and dipped in salt will clean the bottom of a tarnished copper bottom pot or pan. Rub the lemon half over the spots and tarnish on the bottom of the pans. Once the tarnish is eliminated, rinse away the lemon juice and salt and buff to a shine.

Also a paste made from salt, vinegar and flour applied to the bottom of copper pots and pans can remove any built-up tarnish. Rub the paste onto the bottom of the pans to remove the tarnish. Rinse the mixture from the pans with clean water, and buff out the pan with a dry cloth to shine.

Cleaning Copper pans is very simple. Using plain tomato ketchup will clean and shine your pans. Apply the ketchup to a soft cloth, and rub in a circular motion. The discoloration will come off. Rinse thoroughly and dry with another soft cloth. If you have some stubborn spots that will not come up with ketchup alone, then add some regular table salt to the ketchup to gently exfoliate the stain. Rinse again, and dry immediately.

To clean Burned-on foods from pans, add a couple of cups of water to the pan and 5 tbsp bicarbonate of soda, boil for few minutes then turn off the heat and leave overnight. By the morning the burned-on food will just slide off.


D. Moss