Sets of kitchen pots generally include small, medium and large saucepans and a big stockpot. Thick bases and sides conduct heat better and more evenly than thinner ones. Pans should have close-fitting lids. Examine the handles of pans you are considering: Metal handles get hot during cooking and may be a risk for children in the house, but all-metal pans can go into the oven if necessary. Rubber and plastic handles stay cooler and can be more comfortable to use.
Good quality aluminum pots are expensive but should last a lifetime. Aluminum is valued for its even heat conduction. It is also hard-wearing and easy to clean. You can use metal utensils with aluminum pans, and the occasional scouring will not damage the surfaces. One drawback is that the surfaces can get pitted over time if you cook acidic foods in the pan, and if food sits in the pan for any length of time the taste may be affected by the metal. This reaction between food and aluminum causes some corrosion over time. Anodized aluminum pots are a more expensive option but are treated to have a very hard surface and do not react to acids like regular aluminum.
Stainless Steel Pots
Stainless steel pots usually have a base made from layers of steel, copper or aluminum, a combination that results in excellent heat conduction. They are lightweight and easy to clean. At high heats, food can stick to the surfaces, but this is not a problem when boiling food. Stainless steel can be prone to overheating in spots, particularly if the pan has been burned, it will develop a trouble spot.
Professional chefs highly value copper pots because they are hard-wearing and conduct heat the best of all metals, according to Broadway Panhandler in New York City. Copper pots are lined with tin, nickel or stainless steel because copper does not react well with food. The lining can wear away over time, and the pans can be ruined by overheating, so copper pots require careful use. They tend to be the most expensive cookware.
Cast Iron Pots
Some cooks love cast iron pots, while others find them difficult to use and fussy to maintain. Cast iron is very heavy but holds heat well, which has advantages when frying. When cooking with cast iron, you need to use a considerably lower heat than other types of pots. Cast iron novices may find they take a little getting used to. New cast iron pans must be well seasoned, and after use they should never be washed with soap. Cleaning requires hot water or wiping them out with an oiled cloth so a thin layer of grease remains on the surface. Some users may be squeamish about this, but cast iron pots gradually build up a naturally non-stick surface and will last forever. Larger pots filled with food may be too heavy for children and teens to safely lift and move.
Nonstick pans have a Teflon or other nonstick coating. The surface doesn’t last forever and metal utensils and overheating damage the nonstick surface. Professional chefs and gourmet cooks tend not to use nonstick pans as they don’t allow caramelization and fried foods do not develop crispy edges. Advantages are that nonstick pans are easy to clean and inexpensive.