Ceramic cookware is incredibly popular these days. They have a stunning appearance with their vibrant colors and intricate designs. They can complement various kitchen styles with delightful pastels, bold jewel tones, and vintage-inspired shades. However, aside from their appealing looks, how do they stack up against materials like stainless steel and cast iron? Ceramic cookware has its own advantages and disadvantages, making it a suitable choice for your cooking requirements.
What Is Ceramic Cookware?
The term "ceramic" literally refers to "hardened clay," but there are two types of ceramic cookware available. The first type is made entirely of ceramic, while the second type has a ceramic coating over aluminum, copper, or stainless steel. The latter is often marketed as a lightweight and safe alternative to Teflon nonstick pans.
Enter ceramic cookware with their thin silicon coating. Similar to Teflon, they require minimal to no oil for frying or searing, but without the potential toxicity. Additionally, they are lightweight, easy to use, and offer great versatility. Contrary to expectations, they are not delicate or prone to breakage as they are sturdy and often contain a metal core. The nonstick surface also makes cleaning a breeze, even with sticky sauces and burnt residue.
That's not the only difference between ceramic cookware and other materials. Cookware made of cast iron, copper, or aluminum can react with acidic foods like vinegar and tomatoes, resulting in unappetizing colors and metallic flavors. With ceramic cookware, there's no direct contact between metal and food, so you don't need to worry about any unwanted reactions.
Oven And Stovetop
Keep in mind that not all ceramic cookware is the same, so it's important to check if individual pots and pans are oven-safe and what their maximum heat resistance is. Most ceramic cookware can handle oven temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Since most home ovens don't exceed 500 degrees anyway, you can confidently use them for dishes like French onion soup or casseroles. As a bonus, consult the manufacturer's instructions as some ceramic cookware may also be microwave-safe and freezer-safe.
Remember, ceramic cookware heats up slowly and evenly. Therefore, when cooking on the stovetop, you might want to test lower temperatures compared to other types of cookware. Some brands recommend lower temperatures to preserve the nonstick coating. However, due to ceramic's excellent heat conductivity, this setting is often effective for most recipes.
How To Care For Ceramic Cookware
Also, be mindful when it comes to taking care of ceramic cookware. Being careless can lead to chipping, discoloration, and the deterioration of the nonstick coating. Avoid using metal utensils or sharp tools for scraping or stirring. Instead, opt for silicon or wooden spatulas and spoons. And remember, don't scrub the cookware too aggressively as it could weaken the nonstick layer and increase the risk of the pot cracking.
One of the great advantages of nonstick cookware is how easy it is to clean afterward. There's no need to scrub until your arm gets tired. However, ceramic cookware tends to last longer when washed by hand using warm water, mild soap, and a soft sponge. Using a hard sponge, wire sponge, or harsh scrubbing can damage the surface of the pans. Before putting them in the dishwasher, always check the manufacturer's instructions.
While ceramic cookware can be pricey, some sets are noticeably more affordable compared to similar stainless steel sets. Overall, ceramic cookware is versatile, but it particularly excels in a few areas. For instance, it's ideal for dishes that require stovetop cooking followed by oven use. It also retains heat very well, making it perfect for soups, sauces, and anything that needs simmering, boiling, or steaming. And thanks to the nonstick surface, it can beautifully sear meat and give a golden roasted color to chicken and vegetables with minimal cooking oil.