Read these 9 Cookware Basics Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cookware tips and hundreds of other topics.
Let's face it. How often do you cook live lobster? Unless it's something you do on a regular basis, you don't need a lobster pot. Instead, just commandeer a large pot that's able to accommodate lots of water for boiling. You will need about 2 ½ quarts of water per lobster, so 20 quarts is perfect for a family of four. If you prefer steamed lobster, simply fill with 2 inches of generously salted water, and add the lobsters one at time. While a steamer rack that fits the pot is helpful, it's not necessary. When you're not using the stockpot for lobster, it's great for boiling fresh corn on the cob, cooking for a crowd or preparing large batches of soup to freeze for future consumption.
If you are mulling over which types of pots you'll need to begin a basic cookware collection, don't overlook a large (at least 8 quarts) stockpot. Since you'll probably be using it mainly to boil water for pasta, or perhaps for blanching vegetables, this is one case in which you don't want a heavy-feel. You want to easily lift the pot when it's full. If you plan on making large quantities of soup or stock with it, choose one made from good quality mid-weight anodized aluminum. Buy the cheapest, lightest stockpot you can find if you're only going to be using it to boil water for pasta.
If you've acquired all the cookware essentials you need and feel like adding something more frivolous to your collection, consider a pizza pan. Whether you want to make a pie from scratch, bake one from the supermarket freezer, or just reheat a slice from your local pizzeria, it makes a great kitchen addition. Look for a pizza pan with perforated holes, which allow air to circulate freely to achieve a crisper crust. If you pick one that's nonstick too, try using it to make oven fries that crisp up without any oil.
To keep your copper pots in tip-top shape, keep them in drawstring felt bags (the kind that come that come with good shoes). This keeps them from getting dinged or scratched. To clean your copper cookware, smear a thin layer of ketchup over a tarnished surface with a paper towel. Wait five minutes, then rinse it off.
Cast iron cookware can last a lifetime if you care for it properly. Clean the cookware while it is still hot by rinsing with hot water and scraping when necessary. Don't use a scouring pad or soap; these can break down the pan's seasoning. Likewise, never store food in the cast iron pan as the acid in the food will breakdown the seasoning and the food will take on a metallic flavor. Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off, especially in humid weather. If you keep the pans covered, moisture can build up and cause rust. If rust does appear at any point, you'll need to re-season the pan.
All microwave-safe cookware can be washed in the dishwasher, but some pieces are meant for the top rack only. (Check the manufacturer's information for each piece.) Of course, you can also wash microwave cookware by hand in regular mild dishwashing liquid. Never use heavy duty cleaners. If food remains after washing, use a plastic scrub pad. Never use scouring powders, scouring pads, or other abrasives, as these can ruin the integrity of the cookware. If stains are left by spices, tomato products, etc., put into utensil solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach in 1 cup water and soak 1-2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
One of the most frustrating aspects of cooking is cleaning up grease stains. If your stainless steel cookware gets greasy, try "baking" pans (with oven-safe handles) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours. Remove the pan with a pot holder. Then place the pan on the stovetop, and flake off the grease with a spatula.
Calphalon cookware is excellent due to its stick-resistant surface. But what's the best way to use this specialized cookware? As with any cookware, start with a clean pan. Take whatever you are going to cook out of the refrigerator at least 10-15 minutes beforehand or run the food under lukewarm water. Don't place cold food to a hot pan, as this will make it will stick. Preheat the pan to a medium to medium-high heat only, you only need high for boiling. Once the pan is hot add your butter or oil, if you are cooking with it, and allow that to heat. Add your food and watch it; the edges will usually let you know when it needs to be flipped or turned.
Saucepans are a staple cookware item for any kitchen. But how many should you have? A minimum of two, in two different sizes is essential. Three are even better. Saucepans are stout and have one long handle. The larger sizes may have an additional loop or helper handle. Ranging in sizes from less than 1 quart (good for warming butter or small portions) to approximately 6 quarts. The larger pans can be used to prepare large-batch soups and sauces