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Old 08-11-2009, 04:53 PM   #1
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Porcelain enamel vs stainless steel vs hard-anodized cookware

Hello :)

I am in the procress of buying a new cookware set for my junior year in college. I am trying to choose between the rachel ray 10 pc set either in stainless steel, hard-anodized, or porcelain enamel. I have no idea what to choose from. I have heard the color on the porcelain enamel pot fades off when you hand wash it, that the stainless steel is not pure non stick, and that you can't cook with oil or cooking spray with the hard anodized. If anyone can give me their advice for a girl that just wants to cook and not waste my money on something that's an investement for a college student. I just need something that will last, won't fade, won't chip, etc

-ahs

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Old 08-11-2009, 05:11 PM   #2
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Of the three, my preference is for SS. It's the most versatile, most durable and impervious to most damage.

The RR set is a disk on the bottom type and is OK if you have an electric stove. It could be problematic with gas.

You are paying extra for the RR name and the pretty orange trim. You can do better.

I would recommend you look at individual pieces of tri-ply (clad) stainless cookware and just buy three or four basic pieces that will cover your basic needs. With sets, you always end up with something you wouldn't normally use.

Also, check out some of the warehouse stores such as Costco, BJ's or Sam's Club. They often have great buys on clad stainless cookware under their brand names. They generally get top ratings and are relatively inexpensive.
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ahs0324 View Post
Hello :)

I am in the procress of buying a new cookware set for my junior year in college. I am trying to choose between the rachel ray 10 pc set either in stainless steel, hard-anodized, or porcelain enamel. I have no idea what to choose from. I have heard the color on the porcelain enamel pot fades off when you hand wash it, that the stainless steel is not pure non stick, and that you can't cook with oil or cooking spray with the hard anodized. If anyone can give me their advice for a girl that just wants to cook and not waste my money on something that's an investement for a college student. I just need something that will last, won't fade, won't chip, etc

-ahs
First, for college don't get a set of 10, 12 or more pieces. You will have more than you will need or probably use. Get the pieces you need and will use a lot. So what do you need -- frying pan (may two a 8" and 10" or 11"), sauce/saute pan, steamer (which could come as an insert for the sauce pan) and there am be one or two other depending on what you like. Against everyone advice, I would get a non-stick fry pan for quick and easy dishes (especially eggs. omelettes and frittatas) and a stainless steel fry pan (I suggest Fissler as they are nearly non stick and can be waterless -- note I sell these but will be willing to discuss why I think they are better with anyone). A enamel cast iron dutch oven adds versatility for soups, chili, stews, etc. A stainless steel stock pot with steamer insert (probably not bigger than 6 qt would do). That would be the basics. One thing that I would consider adding is a good rice cooker. It can be used for rice of course but it can also be used to prepare many other meals (I wrote a blog on this last year). And of course a coffee maker. If your are a coffee snob and can afford it, there are some really good ones that make a cup at a time and can also do latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate in around a minute.

If you want more details send me a note
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:29 PM   #4
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When we got married we registered for a set of stainless steel pans. Large, medium, and small fry/saute pans, 2 medium sauce pans, a small sauce pan, and a larger stock pot. We use every one of those pans, but YMMV depending on what kind of cooking you like to do. We didn't buy a separate steamer, just got a steaming basket with feet that will fit in both the medium and larger sized pots. Since then we've bought some cast iron pieces (some enamel coated and some not). The SS set is still the workhorse of the bunch.

We chose SS for a few reasons, not the least of which is how easy it is to take care of. You can throw it in the dishwasher, which is a mandatory trait for entering my kitchen - the only thing I own that doesn't go in the dishwasher is my first and much beloved Le Creuset french oven. You can scrub the heck out of it with a plastic scrubby or bon ami if you really need to. In fact, we sought out a set that has a brushed silver appearance on the outside so that it wouldn't show water spots. If it's got crusty stuck on food, you can soak it for hours without hurting it.

I figure I'm in the minority, but I don't buy non-stick pans because of the health concerns surrounding them. Just a personal preference; I don't mean to open a can of worms. I bring this up because if you use the right technique, you can virtually eliminate the need to do heavy-duty clean up with SS, even with eggs. That's easier said than done, lol, but it's possible.

Have fun shopping!
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
When we got married we registered for a set of stainless steel pans. Large, medium, and small fry/saute pans, 2 medium sauce pans, a small sauce pan, and a larger stock pot. We use every one of those pans, but YMMV depending on what kind of cooking you like to do. We didn't buy a separate steamer, just got a steaming basket with feet that will fit in both the medium and larger sized pots. Since then we've bought some cast iron pieces (some enamel coated and some not). The SS set is still the workhorse of the bunch.

We chose SS for a few reasons, not the least of which is how easy it is to take care of. You can throw it in the dishwasher, which is a mandatory trait for entering my kitchen - the only thing I own that doesn't go in the dishwasher is my first and much beloved Le Creuset french oven. You can scrub the heck out of it with a plastic scrubby or bon ami if you really need to. In fact, we sought out a set that has a brushed silver appearance on the outside so that it wouldn't show water spots. If it's got crusty stuck on food, you can soak it for hours without hurting it.

I figure I'm in the minority, but I don't buy non-stick pans because of the health concerns surrounding them. Just a personal preference; I don't mean to open a can of worms. I bring this up because if you use the right technique, you can virtually eliminate the need to do heavy-duty clean up with SS, even with eggs. That's easier said than done, lol, but it's possible.

Have fun shopping!
I would make very different suggestions for a married couple (junior in collage) as opposed to a single woman. A married couple have quite different needs and priorities For you, the mix you have would be close to my suggestions (no arguments on non-stick even though the recent products do not have the harmful chemicals of original Teflon). Singles - men or women - in collage would have the same goals of easy clean up and minimal care that you define. So stick with good quality that can take some abuse and still stand up and look good. Get only what you will use (then add as you skills and desires grow).

Cooking at this stage should be easy and entertaining should be fun as well as interesting. Who wants to spend extra free time cooking?

One of the things my mom taught me was how to make one dish meals that were quick and easy. From these basics I could add a wide range of variations. That capability served me for a long time.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:54 PM   #6
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you can get a cuisinart or emeril tri ply SS set that will last you longer and serve you better. (both make a cheaper disc bottom set...avoid that)

Stainless is not stick free. You will want a silverstone pan for eggs and some fish cooking. But proper cooking technique will make stainless a good option.
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Old 08-13-2009, 02:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ahs0324 View Post
Hello :)

I am in the procress of buying a new cookware set for my junior year in college. I am trying to choose between the rachel ray 10 pc set either in stainless steel, hard-anodized, or porcelain enamel. I have no idea what to choose from. I have heard the color on the porcelain enamel pot fades off when you hand wash it, that the stainless steel is not pure non stick, and that you can't cook with oil or cooking spray with the hard anodized. If anyone can give me their advice for a girl that just wants to cook and not waste my money on something that's an investement for a college student. I just need something that will last, won't fade, won't chip, etc

-ahs
Hard anodized aluminum cookware is only really useful for frying pans, for cooking eggs or omelettes. Even then, it only speeds up cleanup a little, compared to a good copper-based pan. I recommend stainless steel clad copper core, or pure copper cookware instead, because it will last a lifetime. Also, it's pretty easy to clean, although the eggs won't slide off them like hard anodized pans can do when they are new.`
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Old 08-13-2009, 02:55 PM   #8
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I would totally agree with this although Swiss Diamond works really well. But is copper the right thing for a college residency? Certainly there are some outstanding stainless steel clad frying pans that I would recommend but not stainless lined copper.
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Old 08-13-2009, 02:59 PM   #9
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I would not recommend solid copper for a college student, but what is wrong with a student using stainless steel clad copper assuming the student can afford it?
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:01 PM   #10
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Highly recommend stainless steel clad cookware and I would also recommend copper clad over aluminum clad. On this we are in agreement.
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