Stainless steel, cast iron, ceramics, Iron, aluminum or copper, today we find cooking utensils made from various materials and varied. But what do we know about these materials which, in everyday life, are in direct contact with our food?
That’s why it seems important to Videlice to know the advantages and disadvantages of each of these materials in terms of heat conduction, cooking results, maintenance and health.
Light, very good heat conductor and inexpensive, aluminum has everything to be the ideal material for cooking utensils. However, during prolonged contact with acidic foods, it deteriorates and diffuses slightly in food. These quantities would be low and, to date, no study has really proven harmful effects related to such exposures. However, for highly exposed persons, neurological and bone effects have been observed.
This is why in Australia; raw aluminum cookware is no longer popular. They were progressively neutralized by coatings. Foods are no longer in direct contact with the material. You benefit from the excellent conductivity and lightness of aluminum without the disadvantages.
Today, except stoves consist of a structure in stainless steel, the cookware coated non-stick is always in aluminum. Falsely referred to as cast aluminum, these aluminum alloys (cast aluminum) have nothing to do with cast iron (an alloy of iron and carbon). They are just made by the same foundry techniques.
There are several processes that improve the strength of aluminum.
Being forged, it is made more robust under the effect of temperature and pressure. It can also be hardened by anodizing. This process consists of depositing the aluminum with an acid solution through which an electric current flows. A thick layer of aluminum oxide is formed on the surface of the metal. It thus becomes harder, more resistant to corrosion. Anodizing also reduces the transfer of aluminum into foods, especially if they are acidic, such as tomatoes or rhubarb.
Today, there is a new process for hardening acid-free, 100% ecological aluminum.
Cooking in coated aluminum cookware does not present immediate hazards. This material is not in direct contact with food. However, we advise to opt for quality products, forged aluminum. In case of significant alteration of the coating, the metal will be less likely to migrate into food.
It is a shame to refuse any presence of aluminum in the kitchenware. Indeed, this refusal will prevent you from using high-end 18/10 stainless steel cooking systems. Since stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, the bottoms are always equipped with aluminum layers to improve conduction. Hardened and trapped between thick layers of steel, aluminum never appears.
In small doses, copper is not harmful to health. However, in contact with acidic and salty foods, this material can oxidize (verdigris) and become toxic. This is why copper utensils are pre-tinned to make it food.
Tinning consists of electrolysis depositing a layer of tin on the bottoms. This operation is to be renewed once a year as soon as we see the copper reappear.
In terms of maintenance, copper is certainly the most restrictive material. It requires regular tinning and the protective layer may deteriorate if the utensils are rubbed with an abrasive product or sponge.
However, the manufacturers offer ranges of copper cooking utensils for domestic use, the interior of which is made of stainless steel to benefit from the advantages of copper without the disadvantages of the direct contact of this metal with food.
The iron is certainly the most common metal use to make best kitchen appliances. Associated with chrome and nickel, it is the main element of stainless steel. It is also used almost crude (adding a small percentage of carbon to harden the material) in the sheet steel pan. With slightly higher carbon content, we get cast iron. Remember that it should not be confused with aluminum cast iron, which are actually aluminum alloys.
The sheet steel is a good conductor of heat. It rises very quickly in temperature. It is an ideal material for grasping, browning and grilling. Not very adhesive, it can be used with very little fat. The steel sheet gives flavor and enhances the flavors of food. However, because of its conduction speed, it is not very suitable for simmering. It is important to note that this type of stove made of raw material, skates over time and becomes black. They improve with age and are indestructible thanks to the culottage.
The sheet steel frying pan is the ultimate frying pan.
The cast (single alloy of iron and carbon) is also a good conductor of heat but little fast. Excellent material for simmered dishes, it can also be used to grasp at moderate temperatures. It is a material that allows complete cooking. The melt rises in temperature slowly but it accumulates the heat and diffuses it gradually. The dishes stay warm. It also gives flavor by enhancing the flavor of food (in the case of uncoated pig iron or enamel). It will still take into account the weight. We get used to it but the melting remains heavy.
Most cast iron cookware is enameled. It is a kind of coating that protects the raw material against oxidation and facilitates its use. However, like any coating, it wears out. It is necessary to re-enamel the utensils of this type. In addition, conventional application methods are often done with lead. It may be interesting to ask manufacturers about their methods of application.