Good cookware is an integral part of cooking and can have a far reaching impact on health.
Therefore, it’s important to know the pros and cons of different cooking materials so you can make safe choices for your kitchen.
Cast Iron cookware is heavy, inexpensive and doesn’t rust easily. Food cooked in iron vessels enhances the iron content of the food substantially. It has been seen that the iron content of pasta sauce cooked in an iron vessel increases by about 300%. Cooking in iron pots may benefit those suffering from anemia.
Copper and its alloys (brass and bronze) are ancient metals. They are good conductors of heat and distribute it evenly. However, they are easily tarnished and are reactive to acids and salt. Organic acids from food can interact with it and lead to excessive copper in the food, which may have adverse effects on health. So copper vessels must be coated with tin and tinning should be pure, strong and not contaminated with lead. However, being soft, the tin coating wears off rapidly with constant scrubbing and requires periodic renewal.
Aluminium cookware is light, strong, conducts heat well and is affordable. However, it is not a good cooking alloy because it is a soft and highly reactive metal. Contact with strong acids, alkalies and salt from food causes the metal to dissolve and form pits. Often, boiling tomatoes, tamarind, vinegar and acidic dishes like sambar cause the metal to dissolve rapidly and affect the taste of the cooked food. Leaching of aluminium in foods is also dangerous for health because it can inhibit absorption of important minerals like iron and calcium. Also, avoid storing acidic foods such as tea, tomato puree in aluminium pots. Hard Anodised Aluminium is safer as it seals the aluminum and makes it scratch resistant. Since it is smooth, it minimizes sticking of food and allows uniform heating
Stainless Steel cookware has replaced iron, copper and aluminium in a big way owing to its strength, durability and easy handling. However, stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat and its uneven distribution may cause food to burn. This disadvantage can be overcome by using copper bottom stainless steel. High-grade surgical steel like AMC cookware enables you to roast, fry, poach, stew, bake, and serve-all in the same unit. It is durable and easy to handle. It enables you to cook with minimum oil and water.
Non-stick Cookware has a teflon coating and is largely safe. Some concerns regarding PFOAs (Perfluoroctanoic acid, a suspected human carcinogen) associated with non-stick cookware have been raised. But as long as you don’t cook on scratched and dented surfaces, it’s a good cooking medium.But teflon coat once exposed they are carcinogenic. BETTER TO THROW THEM AWAY
Ceramic Pots are porous and unfit for cooking unless glazed. Glazing resists wear and tear, discolouration and corrosion. However, locally produced poor quality glazes can contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Glazes that are approved for use are safe for cooking and storage.
Enamel-coated iron and steel is stain and scratchresistant and does not pick up food odours. With proper care, a fine enamel pot lasts a lifetime. Avoid ones that chip or stain easily.
Microwaveable Plastics have a bad reputation of chemicals leaching in the food. Overheating and cooking oily foods in plastic containers is not good for health. Only use containers marked as microwave safe and discard the ones that are visibly damaged and stained. Avoid cooking or heating in restaurant takeaway plastic containers, they are usually cheap, toxic plastics.
So best among all are…
- Iron vessels with out Teflon coating
- Second best will be locally made mud pot vessels if you can handle it. It is an art cooking in mud pot. Takes lot of time.
- Glass vessels in micro oven.