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Old 05-10-2009, 07:42 PM   #1
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Beginner Questions on Stainless Steel Cookware

Hi everyone,
I am new to the world of cooking and was looking to buy some stainless steel cookware to start my new culinary adventures, but I've been overwhelmed by some of the vocabulary used to describe them. My main questions are:

1) What's the difference between tri-ply and all cast? Is one better than the other?

2) What's the difference between the above and SS cookware with copper/aluminum bottoms? What are the pros and cons of these? I've read that the bottoms can be further broken down into disk and full base, can someone please elaborate?

3) Through research, I've learned that all clad is usually the most expensive while the ones with bases made of aluminum/copper are cheaper. If I was to go with the latter, what types should I go for if health/safety is my main concern? After reading all those articles on certain metals being bad for you, I am trying to be cautious.

If someone can point me to a website where I can get a good start on the types of cookware and the pros and cons of each, that would be appreciated too. Thanks!

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Old 05-10-2009, 08:16 PM   #2
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Among SS options, multi-ply (tri-ply) is the best option. It provides even heat distribution throughout the pot/pan greatly reducing the possibilities of burning/scorching food.

If you're going with SS, there are no health concerns. Any non SS metals in a tri-ply or disk bottomed pan never come in contact with food.

Not sure what all cast is. Cast iron is a different story and very different from the SS options.

Search through this site's cookware forums and you will find a number of discussions on this very topic.
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:57 AM   #3
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Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop - fantes.com has a cookware primer.
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410 View Post

Thanks for the link, Robo!
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:44 PM   #5
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I did some searching within the forum for past discussions but was a bit confused with some of the material.

Andy, thanks for clearing up some of the confusion and thank you, Robo, for the link.

I have one last question regarding the disk based cookware. I've read that there are those that are entirely exposed and then there are those that are covered by another layer of stainless steel. Any difference between these two? Would the latter fall into the category of tri-ply?
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:02 AM   #6
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i like 18/10 stainless steel cookware
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:24 AM   #7
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...I have one last question regarding the disk based cookware. I've read that there are those that are entirely exposed and then there are those that are covered by another layer of stainless steel. Any difference between these two? Would the latter fall into the category of tri-ply?

For disk bottom cookware, The thickness of the middle material, either aluminum or copper or a combo, is the key. Whether it's completely encapsulated with SS or partially exposed is less important.

Tri-ply refers to a pan where the entire body up to the lid, not just the bottom, is layered.
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for the help =)
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:40 AM   #9
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there is professional grade stainless with copper encapsulated disc bottoms and a magnetic stainless layer for use on induction or any other burner type. These are pricey. The much less expensive disc bottoms out there really don't cook as well or efficiently. Most of the tri ply out there, pricey or not, seems to cook well.
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Old 05-22-2009, 06:58 AM   #10
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Hi everyone,
If someone can point me to a website where I can get a good start on the types of cookware and the pros and cons of each, that would be appreciated too. Thanks!
If you go to egullet.org and search for "Understanding Stovetop Cookware" you will find a very good and detailed explanation. There is a Q&A forum at the end of it too.

I would provide the direct link but I don't have enough posts here to post URLs.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:00 AM   #11
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Hi there,
You’re right, it can be very confusing!
Tri-ply: This basically means that the cookware body is made from layered or laminated metals. In the case of Tri-ply this means that the cookware is made from 3 layers of metal (usually stainless steel with an inner conductive core of either aluminium or copper followed by an external layer of stainless steel – kind of like a sandwich). Stainless steel on its own is not a very good conductor of heat so by combining it with a metal like aluminium or copper (which by the way conduct heat really well but are also quite soft metals and therefore likely to bend and dent) you get the best of both worlds. If you are buying tri-ply or duo-ply (2 layers) cookware then look for something that has an inner core that is at least 3mm thick otherwise you might get hot spots when you’re cooking.
Hot spots are caused when the material is not thick enough to disperse the heat evenly and may cause your food to burn at certain points in your pan.
In all cases you need a conductive layer – that’s the copper or aluminium bit that is at least 3 mm and preferably 5 mm thick.
In some cases you will find that tri-ply cookware is very over priced for the performance that it gives you. If you are just starting out then I don’t advise you use this type of cookware.
Cast cookware is simply a way of describing the process of making the cookware body. In other words the cookware has been cast into a mould to form the shape. In most cases cookware is either cast iron (which can be very heavy) or cast aluminium.
Aluminium on its own is not that great as it contains lead (poisonous in cooking) therefore look for a coated aluminium pan if this is the option you choose. Hard Anodized aluminium cookware will protect the surface of the aluminium from coming into contact with your food.
Stainless Steel with a copper or aluminium base. I’ve actually written a blog post about this on my own site
Copper is a better conductor of heat than aluminium BUT before you jump the gun and buy cooper it is not always your best option.
a) It is more expensive
b) It can be less stable
If you are a professional chef who really knows what they are doing then you might prefer the sensitivity of cooper – i.e you can control the heat with more precision. If like me, you simply enjoy cooking but aren’t that accurate when it comes to the science bit then aluminium might be a safer option as cooper can cause you to burn your food if you are not careful.
In both cases you want to make sure that you choose a pan that has a fully encapsulated base. In some cheaper cookware the manufacturers save on the cost of producing the pan by only part filling the base with the conductive material – make sure that the base has a full covering of either aluminium or copper – feel free to ask if you want more details.
If Health and Safety is your main concern then how you hold your pans is going to be really important. You need to find something with an ergonomic handle – preferably a stay cool handle that is not going to burn your hand in use. I am being biased with the following recommendation as it is a pan that I have designed however it is worth your while having a look: Google DOCTOR COOK cookware
The only other thing to really be aware of with regards to health and safety is the type of non-stick coating (if you choose this option) that you select. I recommend either a Teflon coating or the American brand Whitford both of whom are reputable manufactures making coatings specifically for the cookware industry – something like the Whitford Quantanium coating is a great one. Some of the non-branded coatings can be a risk as most of these are produced in the Far East and nobody is quite sure what is in them.
Hoping to have helped.
Enjoy cooking – it can be great fun xxx
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:11 AM   #12
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And in your search for cookware, you might also consider two other non-SS items: a cast iron skillet and an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Nothing in stainless can replace either of these and they can become invaluable. Just food for thought.
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