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METALS COMPARISON



SILVER


Advantages : Inimitable thermal conductivity (420 Wm°K), energy saving, excellent nonstick performance.


Disadvantages : Very expensive and needs to be cleaned with care. A novice cook may find it hard to control the heat conduction.




COPPER


Advantages : Excellent heat conductor (392 Wm°K). It cooks at lower temperature and reduces overheating. It is essential for certain cooking including sauces and candy. It allows substantial energy savings and enhances the beauty of your table. It is extremely resistant to bacteria and it lasts forever.


Disadvantages : Expensive, heavy, and it requires special handling and care. It reacts with certain acidic food. It is recommended not to use in the dishwasher.

Notes : Copper is widely used in the dairy industry, not only for technological reasons but also for biologic properties. It is used for distillation, not only for its capacity for thermal exchange but also for chemical properties. It is also used in the canning industry to preserve color and flavour of the fruits/vegetables). A copper boiler or alembic is compulsory in the production of Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Cognac, Armagnac, etc. Recyclable and “Green”: Copper does not emit harmful substances and it is 100% recyclable. This allows energy savings and cuts down on waste. It is estimated that 80% of copper made for cooking dating back to ancient times is still in use in some form. Copper and Health: Humans and animals absorb copper from our environment and in our daily lives all the time. Being a natural material, copper is contained in many foods and in water. The digestive system absorbs enough copper quantity to enjoy good health. The extra copper is expelled.




ALUMINIUM


Advantages : Good thermal conductivity (225 Wm°K), energy saving, lightness, excellent price/quality ratio.


Disadvantages : It reacts with acidic and alkaline foods and easily discolours. It tends to release metal flavours in the food especially during long cooking. Its natural porosity can not guarantee perfect cleaning which encourages the proliferation of micro-bacterium. If the cookware is made from thin sheets of aluminium the shape can become distorted and it can heat unevenly.




MULTI-LAYERS


Innovative technology allows the creation of cookware made of several layers of different metals in order to enhance the positive qualities of each material and minimize their negative qualities. It is impossible to judge the thermal conductivity due to the different combinations on the market. This technology has created some cookware with excellent cooking attributes while other items were just developed for commercial-look purposes only.

Some examples:

- 10% stainless steel, 80% aluminium, 10% stainless steel
It greatly improves the thermal conductivity of the stainless steel pot.

- 90% aluminium, 10% stainless steel
It keeps the same good thermal conductivity of the aluminium eliminating its reaction with food.

- 10% copper, 80% aluminium, 10% stainless steel
The copper does not substantially improve the thermal conductivity and it requires more cleaning.

- > 70% copper, < 30% stainless steel
It reduces some advantages related to the copper but it increases its practicality.

- 10% copper, 90% aluminium
The copper does not substantially improve the thermal conductivity and it requires cleaning.

- 10% copper, 90% aluminium, and non-stick interior

The copper does not substantially improve the thermal conductivity and it requires cleaning. The unavoidable abrasions irreparably damage the item.




CAST IRON


Advantages : Very strong and durable material that retains heat for a long time. It does not alter with time (only if the piece is well finished and enamelled at high quality level). It allows for good heat distribution, perfect for long cooking at low temperatures.


Disadvantages : Poor thermal conductivity (58 Wm°K) which causes the pan to heat and cool slowly. Heavy weight. Pans not properly seasoned or coated can cause food to stick. If enamelled the surface can be damaged at high temperature.




STAINLESS STEEL


Advantages : Strength, brightness, non-abrasive, non-corrosive material, easy to use.


Disadvantages : Low thermal conductivity (16 Wm°K) and therefore suitable only for boiling. High energy consumption. Can be corroded by kitchen salt. Uneven heat distribution can cause hot spots and burned food. It contains chrome and nickel (this last material is linked to several allergic phenomena)
Note: Stainless steel, loved for its polished & clean appearance, after usage, acquires micro-scratches and micro-cracks in which pathogenic elements can harbour. As affirmed by Bill Kevil, this does not happen with copper. Bill Kevil coordinated this study at the Southampton University (www.soton.ac.uk) and demonstrated that the bacterium E.Coli survives for months in stainless steel while only 14 hours in copper.





CONTAINERS NAME AND USE




STOCKPOT

2 handled vessel roughly same diameter as height. Used for: Boiling, Simmering, Blanching, Bain-marie, Steaming. Perfect for preparing soups and broths it also allows excellent temperature control (95-100°C), retaining aromas and flavours.


CASSEROLE

2 handled, about half as tall as wide. Used for: braising, stewing, blanching, roasting, and poaching. Multipurpose, this vessel is the best for uniform heat distribution through food.


SAUCEPAN

1 handled vessel, about half as tall as wide. Used for: sauces, poaching, stews. Very useful for preparing sauces and creams that don’t need to be amalgamated but need a controlled temperature.


LOW CASSEROLE

2 handled vessel about one third as tall as wide. Used for: braising, stewing, glazing, oven roasting, and gratins. It is perfect for food needing a fast evaporation and for stews (meat, fish, and vegetables).


SAUTE PAN

1 handled vessel about one third as tall as wide. Used for: roasting, browning, stewing, searing (ribs, vegetables in butter), glazing. Ideal for dishes that require all over surface cooking such as chops, ossobuco, filets.


FRYING PAN

1 handled low round pan with curved edge. Used for: sauté, searing, and browning. Frying (only if pan is stainless steel lined). The only way to finish some pasta, tossing it perfectly at the right temperature and in a relatively quick time.


ROUND DISH

2 handled low round dish with curved edge. Used for: browning, gratins, braising vegetables, and glazing. A versatile pan for fast cooking (eggs, escalope, etc) and finishing dishes in the oven.


OVAL CASSEROLE

2 handled oval vessel with a wide bottom. Used for: braising, stewing, and roasting. Made for even distribution of heat through food, excellent for roasting meats, chicken, game and rounded whole fish (tuna...)


OVAL SAUTE PAN

2 handled oval vessel with a low, curved edge. Used for: roasting, glazing, frying and gratins Particularly suited to frying flour-coated fish, in butter. It also makes an impressive presentation from oven to table.


ROASTING PAN

Low-sided rectangular pan. Used for: roasting, gratins, and oven baking. Used to roast chicken, rabbit and for authentic Italian oven baked pasta!


FISHPAN

Long, oval pan with grill. Used for: boiling, simmering, and steaming. Indispensable for large fish, shellfish and pig’s trotters.


RISOTTO DISH CURVED HANDLE

Low, round vessel, generally with an arc handle that allows you to pour directly into the dish, arresting the cooking. Use: classic risotto with saffron other than braising and stewing.


BAIN MARIE

Used because it eliminates lumps. The most delicate sauces need to be cooked slowly and gently and therefore at the temperature of boiling water (maximum 100°C).


CASSEROLE FOR MELTED BUTTER

Used because it is the only one that prevents burning and guarantees perfect separation of the casein, that deposits on the bottom, from the transparent melted butter. This makes it more digestible and appetizing.


ZABAGLIONE BOWL

Used because, while beating egg yolks and sugar together, only uniform heat transmitted by copper in a moderate manner can result in perfect, uniform cooking.


POLENTA POT

vessel with 1 long handle and eventually help handle, with the characteristic cone concave shape, used to prepare the polenta, traditional dish of Northern Italy.


GRATIN

2 handled low round or oval dish with curved edge. Used for: browning, grating. A typical pan used to cook and/or gratinate in the oven.


RISOTTO DISH

2 handled vessel with height equal to about 1/3 of the diameter typically used to cook risotto. Thanks to the good copper conductivity and the large heating surface the cooking temperature remains extremely uniform thus minimizing the need for stirring and the risk of burning the food on the bottom.


SUGAR SAUCEPAN

Used because only the exceptional conductivity of copper (providing it is the right thickness), enables the sugar to dissolve, boil and caramelise by maintaining a rigorously constant temperature.


FONDUE SET

Used because, for a perfect fondue, it is fundamental that the oil or broth’s temperature be kept high while dipping food; yet not allowed to get too hot compromising the flavour of the food. The porcelain insert also allows you to prepare excellent cheese or dessert fondues, which usually require a Bain-Marie method.








SHAPE AND THICKNESS

SHAPES OF THE POTS

The cylinder shape became the most popular due to its practical shape for stirring and due to the excellent content/space ratio in addition to facilitating easy cleaning. The convex shape, in addition to its appealing look, gives its best performance during long cooking procedures such as braising. This kind of pot allows a small amount of liquid to be used as the cooking-steam condensates to form cooking juices. In addition, there are many other alternative shapes that show excellent results for special cooking methods: oven, bain marie... This is explained in detail on the following pages.

HEIGHT OF THE POT

It is not only linked to the amount of food it can contain, but also to the cooking method. The best example to explain the above is the reduction cooking method obtained with a conical casserole.

CURVATURE

It should not be too evident in the case of a pot and/or casserole to improve the heat absorption. On the contrary, it is fundamental in the case of frying pans. The curvature of a sautè pan should be particularly rounded (quarter of a circle), the curvature of a frying pan should be slightly smaller. The handle does not affect the cooking procedure. The professional cook tends to prefer one long single handle, with an eventual additional support in the case of heavy pieces, since in a professional environment it is much more comfortable and handy. For private use, customers tend to prefer 2 handle pots as they can be stored more easily..

THICKNESS

Must be appropriate according to the use of the item. The pot should be solid but not too heavy; the casserole with 2 handles should be resistant; the frying pan should be lighter weight and handy in order to keep temperature under constant control while cooking.

COPPER POT

The copper pot can be considered the “Queen of Pots” thanks to its natural and excellent heat conductivity, which allows for a perfect temperature regulation. It is essential for dishes requiring long cooking procedures, for delicate dishes and for confectionary creations. A good copper pot needs to respect the following attributes: - It must be made of pure copper, first fusion, and should have an adequate thickness. It can vary from 1.5 mm for frying pan up to 2 or 3 mm. in case of a large casserole - Particular attention should be paid to the tin lining procedure: the durability of the tin lining depends substantially on a correct lining process. - The tin lining should be performed manually by using the traditional flame/blotter method. The material for lining should be 100% pure certified tin. - A good riveting is essential to guarantee the durability of the item. Copper cookware can be riveted with copper rivets with flat top (they are easy to clean but they do not always ensure adequate hygiene), or copper rivets with rounded top (due to the round shape they do not maintain the tin lining as long and therefore they make it necessary to re-tin the pot more frequently). I can therefore affirm that the best solution is to use stainless steel rivets with round shape. - Each pot must be sold with an instruction manual to inform the final customer on how to correctly use this noble material. In the last analysis, I can affirm that a copper pot which does not respect those attributes is and can only be a nice decorating item.





COOKING TECHNIQUES

BAIN-MARIE (Double Boiler)

To heat using two vessels, one of which fits into the top of the other. The lower pan is partially filled with water kept boiling or near boiling to keep the food in the upper pan cooking without excessive or uneven heat.

BLANCH

To immerse food briefly into boiling water, then plunge into cold water. The process firms flesh, heightens and sets color and flavor and loosens skin as in tomatoes intended for peeling.

BOIL

To cook in a liquid which has reached a temperature of 212°F (100°C), or where bubbles are rising continually and are breaking the surface.

BRAISE

To cook meat by searing in fat, then simmering in a covered vessel in small amount of moisture.

BROIL

To cook the food by placing it, for a short while, a measured distance below the broiler. Most ovens have a broiler section that is used to cook meats, fish and poultry or melt or brown foods such as sprinkled bread crumbs or grated cheese toppings.

BROWN

To produce a brown surface on a food by use of relatively high heat for a brief period of time, giving the food an appetizing color and a richer flavor, keeping the interior moist by sealing in the natural juices. e.

FRY

To cook, at high temperature, in fat (a) Pan-Fry To cook in small amount of fat. (b) Deep-Fat Fry To cook in enough fat to completely cover food while cooking

GLAZE

Any shiny coating applied to a food or created by browning. In meat preparation, a jelled broth applied to meat surface; in breads and pastries, a wash of egg or syrup; for doughnuts and cakes, a sugar preparation for coating.

POACH

To cook in liquid held below the boiling point.

ROAST

To cook by dry heat, usually in an oven, with a very small quantity of seasoning. .

SAUTE

To brown or cook a food quickly in a pan over direct heat, usually using a small amount of hot fat and tossing in a gentle motion.

SIMMER

To cook liquid at a temperature just below the boiling point, low enough that tiny bubbles just begin to break beneath the surface around the edge of the pan.

STEAM

To cook indirectly by setting food on top of boiling water in a covered pot and allowing the rising vapor to reach the food.

STEW

A mixture of meat or fish and vegetables cooked by simmering in its own juices along with other liquid, such as water and/or wine.

STEWING

Braising food that has not been browned