Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cookware Reviews - Coatings

Cookware Reviews - Coatings
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"
Cookware Reviews - Non Stick Coatings

Coatings used in the cookware industry are made from either a silicone base or a fluorocarbon (P.T.F.E.) base. Fluorocarbon coatings are applied in a 2 or 3 coat process, consisting of 1 or 2 layers of the non-stick material, plus a "sealer" or topcoat. This is the process generally used on interior coating. Exterior coatings are usually use a 1 coat silicone based process, since fluorocarbons have a drawback...if accidentally overheated, the fumes will kill household birds.

The main differences in different quality levels are in the formulas of the liquid coating, the number of layers of coating, and the thickness of each layer.

"Generic" or non-branded coatings are generally used on low end frypans, and will usually be a formula that has less durability and release qualities than branded coatings.

Cookware Reviews - Reinforced Non Stick Coatings

A reinforced coating is one that utilizes the application of stainless steel particles in a molten state to the surface of the pan prior to coating with the nonstick material. This technology was pioneered, developed, and refined by Whitford Corporation. The reinforced "Excalibur" coating system is the result of twenty years of research and development that required constant trial and error, which led to small but important changes in the basic concept of a reinforced nonstick until the ideal was finally achieved.

These are the basic differences between Excalibur and other "reinforced" nonsticks:

  1. The Excalibur alloy:
    Excalibur uses the strongest, most corrosion-resistant alloy in the stainless steel spectrum. Excalibur is the only reinforced nonstick that can use this alloy (which is protected by a Whitford patent). This means:
    1. Greater durability: The stainless steel spray applied to the substrate of the pot or pan forms a harder, tougher, longer-lasting base for the nonstick coatings that are applied into and over the "peaks and valleys" formed by the hardened spray. This is true whether the pan is made of stainless steel, carbon steel, cast iron or aluminum. Metal kitchen tools can be used with Excalibur.
    2. Greater resistance to corrosion: The unique "recipe" of elements in the Excalibur alloy provide maximum resistance to oxidation as well as to galvanic corrosion.
  1. Adhesion:
    Excalibur provides superior adhesion in two important ways:
    1. The alloy adheres better to the substrate of the pot or pan, no matter what the composition of the metal substrate.
    2. The special Whitford coatings specifically engineered to mate with the Excalibur alloy provide superior adhesion when compared to most 300 and 400 series of stainless steel used by other "reinforced" nonsticks.
  2. Uniform thickness:
    The uniformity of the Excalibur product's surface not only resists abrasion better, but also provides more uniform wear over the life of the pot or pan. Raised, hard ridges, on the other hand, tend to lose their nonstick quality.
  3. Stain resistance:
    The uniform Excalibur surface is not only easier to clean, but it is designed to avoid wells and other small depressions found in patterned surfaces that capture fats, juices, and other food residues that eventually carbonize. This not only encourages staining and spoils the aesthetics of the pan, it also deteriorates the release properties of the surface.
  4. Pattern vs. no pattern:
    Other "reinforced" nonsticks offer a pattern pressed into the surface of the pot or pan on the theory that this will provide an anchor for the nonstick. Excalibur research proved early on that, however attractive the theory sounds, in practice it fails. That's because the artificial ridges in the surface provide hard, raised edges that are far enough apart from one another to become easy targets. When metal utensils are used, they simply scrape the nonstick off these ridges in amounts sufficient to deteriorate significantly the release of the surface (and to lead to corrosion of the inferior alloy).

    Excalibur on the other hand, forms a series of "peaks and valleys" so close together that a metal spatula, by definition considerably thinker than the distance between "peaks", cannot penetrate what is essentially a uniform surface. This distributes the "attack" of the utensil over a wider, smoother surface, deflecting it and protecting the coating. The worst that can happen is that microscopic bits of nonstick are scraped off a few of the tiny peaks.

    These are the basic differences between Excalibur and other "reinforced" nonsticks. For information on our commercial quality frypans with Excalibur, refer to Leyse Professional Cookware under Aluminum Cookware in the product information section. Product Information Whitford Corporation has recently developed a new method or reinforcing a nonstick coating internally, rather than externally, like Excalibur. The new coating system is called Quantum®. Rather than the external stainless steel reinforcement of Excalibur, Quantum® uses an internal reinforcement of inorganic materials with a diverse, controlled blend of particle geometries. The quantity and blend of particle shapes were developed to provide the optimum reinforcement and hardness of the coating system. Because the reinforcing components are primarily in the base coat, additional release ingredients can be incorporated into the subsequent coats to provide an unsurpassed combination of durability and nonstick food release properties. The key characteristics of the new Quantum® system are:
    1. Outstanding resistance to abrasion: second only to Excalibur for durability. Metal kitchen tools can be used with Quantum®.
    2. Excellent release: superior nonstick performance.
    3. Superb adhesion: won't peel or lift from the cookware surface.
    4. Smooth surface appearance
    5. High gloss
Cookware Reviews - Coatings
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials - Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy that starts with basic iron with up to 8 alloys added, depending on the quality. The major alloys in stainless steel are chromium and nickel. The chromium provides rust and corrosion resistance and durability. Nickel provides additional rust resistance, hardness, and high polishing characteristics.

The numbers 18/0 and 18/8 refer to the percentage of content of chromium and nickel. To be classified as stainless steel, the metal must contain at least 11 % chromium (no nickel required). Stainless steel used in cookware is normally 18% chromium and 8% to 10% nickel (300 series).

Low end stainless steel cookware, mixing bowls, stockpots and accessories are usually 18/0, (400 series) which are usually not highly polished, and could be subject to some rust spotting.

A simple way to test whether or not a stainless steel pan is 18/0 or 18/8 is to place a magnet against it. If the pan is magnetic, it is 18/0...if not, it is 18/8 (or 18/10). The addition of nickel neutralizes the natural ferrous properties of the iron in the stainless steel.

Cookware Reviews
- Cookware Materials - Aluminum

Aluminum cookware can be formed either by pressing or by casting. Most aluminum cookware on the market today is formed by pressing. Casting of aluminum is a slower and more expensive process, however the end result is that the body thickness is generally thicker than pressed aluminum, and the bottom and the rims can be made even thicker than the sidewalls, which helps prevent warping or going "out of round". Cast aluminum is also more porous than pressed aluminum, which results in better heat retention. When polished or coated, it is difficult to visually tell the difference between pressed or cast aluminum.

Aluminum cookware can also be improved by a process called "hard anodizing". This is a Electro-chemical process which increases the thickness of natural oxide film in aluminum, to give it a hard non-oxidizing finish. The surface of the aluminum actually becomes harder than steel, which dramatically increases the durability of the surfaces of aluminum. The exterior finish after the hard anodizing process turns to a dark gray color.

Cookware Reviews
- Cookware Materials - Copper

Copper, alone or in an alloyed form, has been used in cooking utensils almost since the dawn of history. Copper's uniform heat conductivity makes it a good material for top-of-range cooking because the heat is distributed evenly. This property also enables copper serving utensils to keep foods warm and palatable.

Copper cooking surfaces are usually lined with tin, nickel, or stainless steel for two reasons:

1. Copper will react to foods with a high acid content, which in some cases could be toxic.

2. Cooked foods left directly in contact with uncoated copper may become discolored. While it is not necessarily injurious to health, the discoloration tends to detract from the food's eye appeal.

Tin or nickel linings are not very durable, and therefore should be recoated if these surfaces wear thru to the copper on the inside of the pan.

Another manufacturing process bonds or laminates copper to stainless steel or other metals. A core of solid copper sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel is another way copper is used to distribute heat uniformly.

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials - Cast Iron

Cast iron cooking utensils have been with us for thousands of years, going back to ancient China.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, cast iron utensils were considered so valuable that they were listed along with gold, jewels, and other riches of royalty. An iron foundry, where utensils and other cast iron products were manufactured, was one of the first industries organized in North America.

Today's cast iron utensils have been improved greatly over those of even the recent past. They are made of iron alloys that give additional strength to the utensil. And today there are cast iron utensils with colorful porcelain enamel exterior and interior finishes.

Cast iron currently is used for utensils that include skillets, roasters and Dutch ovens, broilers, griddles, and some specialty items, such as muffin and corn bread pans. These utensils are excellent for browning, frying, stewing and baking foods.

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials - Porcelain

Porcelain enamel is essentially a highly durable glass which, with coloring oxides and other inorganic materials, is fused to metal at extremely high temperatures. It first found its way into the kitchen as a decorative finish for wood-burning ranges and cast iron utensils. Later, when techniques were discovered for applying it to sheet steel, it became a standard coating for coffee pots, roasting pans, and saucepans.

In the manufacture of cooking utensils, porcelain enamel is applied after the metal is formed into its final shape. It can be applied to carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron.

It is one of the most versatile finishes, offering virtually an unlimited range of colors and design effects. Today's colors include many shades of bright reds, vibrant greens, clear blues, sunny yellows, and warm oranges, as well as earth tones. Plaids, stripes, decorator designs, and even provincial prints can be found. There are also decorative porcelain decals, mechanically applied that have the same scratch and stain resistant qualities of the regular porcelain coating.

Cookware Reviews
- Cookware Materials - Glass & Ceramic

In the 20th century, heat-resistant glass and glass-ceramic were developed. Like ceramic, they meet the need for attractive ware used for mixing, cooking, serving, and storing. Major features are attractiveness, one-dish convenience, and inert non-porous surfaces that won't absorb food odors or flavors. For easy cleaning, both glass and ceramic ovenware are available with nonstick interiors.

While most are very rugged, they can break under impact. However, some glass, ceramic and glass-ceramic cookware manufacturers warranty their products against thermal breakage, and offer free replacement should the ware break in normal use within the warranty conditions. Heat-resistant glass cookware may be made of clear or tinted transparent material or opaque white (commonly called "opal" glass). Glass-ceramic cookware may be white or transparent and tinted. Ceramic cookware is available in white or a variety of colors.

Heat resistant glass can be used for storing, cooking and serving. Some pieces 'can be used on the rangetop, while others are suitable only for the oven. Those designed for baking can be taken from refrigerator and put into preheated ovens after the utensil reaches room temperature. As a rule, they should not be used on the range top or under the broiler. Heat-resistant glass range top products should always be used with a wire grid on an electric range but should never be taken from the refrigerator or freezer and placed directly on a hot rangetop element. Similarly sudden cooling may be harmful to glass cookware. Hot glass cookware should not be allowed to come in contact with wet counter tops, nor should they be placed in water while they are still hot. Some ceramic cookware is made of heat-resistant material which can go from the freezer to a hot oven or microwave. None is suitable for top-of-range or broiler use. Like glass cookware, ceramic cookware holds heat for a long time while providing the additional benefit of an attractive serving dish. Ceramic cookware is available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and designs.

Among the most thermally shock-resistant material ever developed by man, glass-ceramic is a true space-age material. It was first used in rocket nosecones because the glass-ceramic material could take the extreme temperature changes encountered in their supersonic flight from the earth's surface into outer space and back. Glass-ceramic cookware offers wide food preparation versatility. It can be used for range top cooking and is excellent for roasting, broiling or baking -in the conventional or microwave oven. It can go directly from the freezer to the range top, broiler or hot oven. Glass-ceramic cookware can be immersed, hot off the stove, into sudsy dishwater for easy cleanup.

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials - Try Ply Construction

Different types of metal can be laminated or bonded together, to combine the advantages of different metals into a cookware body. An example would be a 3 layer construction consisting of two outer layers of stainless steel, with an inner layer of aluminum. This incorporates all of the benefits of each metal into one piece of cookware. The lamination of metals is done in the raw material stage, in sheets, and blanks are cut from the sheets to be formed into cookware shapes in a press. The entire process is very costly, and this construction is found only on higher priced cookware.

Cookware Reviews - Cookware Materials
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cookware Reviews - Training

Cookware Reviews - Training
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Cookware Reviews - Training

Cookware is a product we use almost on a daily basis, without thinking much about it. However, with the proliferation of brands, base metals, interior coatings, exterior finishes, and claims made by various manufacturers, a consumer shopping for new cookware can easily become very confused in their shopping experience. Often salespeople in retail stores are not conversant with the different properties of various metals and other materials used in cookware, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

This information is intended to explain the differences in today's products in a simple manner, and to serve as a general background for those who are interested in some of the technical aspects of cookware construction and manufacturing. This information may be helpful in your final purchase decision.

Find Kitchen Cookware at “Woods Goods and Stuff

Cookware Reviews - Training
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Cookware Reviews - How to buy Kitchen Knives

Cookware Reviews - How to buy Kitchen Knives
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"

Cookware Reviews - How to buy Kitchen Knives

1. Cookware Reviews: A good kitchen knife, whether it is a large chef’s knife or a small paring knife, has certain qualities that make it worth owning. First, the knife should be made of steel, a strong metal that can withstand years of use. Ceramic knives cannot be sharpened, which may be a big problem over time. Make sure you only consider knives with full tangs. The tang is the metal portion of the knife that extends from the blade through the handle. The tang should run the full length of the handle and should be visible as a metal line between the two handle halves. Some knives have bolsters, the bulge of metal between the handle and the blade. The bolster is there to provide a barrier between your fingers and the knife edge.

2. Steel kitchen knife blades are generally made in one of two ways. Stamped blades are mechanically cut out of a sheet of steel, while forged blades are at least handled by a human while the forging process occurs. Forged kitchen knives tend to cost more than stamped ones, and some chefs claim they are the better-made knife of the two.

3. Know your knives. A set of kitchen knives should at least have the following components. The chef’s knife is the one with long, wide blade. The point of the knife rises off the cutting surface when the knife edge is resting on that surface. This enables the knife to rock as you chop and mince. The paring knife is much smaller, and is used to peel and to make small, precision cuts. The utility knife has a blade that is between the chef’s and the paring knives in length. The utility knife does all sorts of prep jobs and is good to have around when the chef’s knife is otherwise being used or dirty. A serrated knife comes in very handy for cutting fresh bread loaves, as well as tomatoes. You can also opt to buy other kitchen knives made for specific tasks.

4. Before you buy your kitchen knives, pick them up and see how they feel in your hand. Depending on the materials to used to make the blade and the handle, kitchen knives will have different weights. A chef’s knife with a steel blade and a synthetic handle will weigh and feel differently than a chef’s knife with a steel blade, a bolster and a wooden handle. The feel of a kitchen knife in your hand is called its balance. You want to pick a set of kitchen knives that feel right when you handle them.

5. Check out the warranty. Many kitchen knife manufacturers offer lifetime warranties, especially for more expensive designs.

Cookware Reviews: Caution

Before you buy, find out how your knife should be sharpened and cleaned. Some knives can be put in the dishwasher, but others should be hand washed and should never be left soaking in standing water. Water can get between the tang and handles, causing the handle to rot.

Find Kitchen Cutlery at “Woods Goods and Stuff

Cookware Reviews - How to buy Kitchen Knives
by Joe "Woods Goods and Stuff"