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GLASS COOKWARE

Heat-resistant glass and glass ceramic cooking utensils also fill the need for an attractive dish that can be used for mixing, cooking, serving and storing.

Features include attractiveness, one-dish convenience, a non-porous surface that does not stain, absorb food flavors or hold food odors. There is little danger of warping, bending, denting, discoloring or pitting, but they may break. Ordinary dishwashing will clean these utensils.

GLASS-CERAMIC

Although glass-ceramic pans can be used for rangetop cooking, they are better suited for baking, broiling or roasting. They are slow heat conductors, but because they hold heat longer than metal, overall cooking time is about the same.

Glass-ceramic cookware designed especially for rangetop cooking has integral handles of the same material so they stay comfortable to the touch on top of the range and will not melt or warp when used in ovens. Transparent, tinted glass-ceramic rangetop cookware can be used on gas or electric ranges as well as in conventional or microwave ovens and under broilers for browning.

Glass-ceramic cookware can be used for storage, too; it is not affected by temperature changes and can go from refrigerator to oven safely.

HEAT-RESISTANT GLASS

Heat-resistant glass is like glass ceramic in that it can be used for storing, cooking and serving. Some pieces can be used on the range, while others are suitable only for the oven. Manufacturer's labels usually include recommended usage.

Those designed for baking can be taken from refrigerator and put into a preheated oven. However, heat-resistant glass rangetop products cannot be taken directly from refrigerator to range top-the temperature change and direct contact with heat may cause them to break.

Sudden cooling may be detrimental to heat-resistant glass items-they should not be put in water while still hot. When glass or glass-ceramic dishes are used for baking, oven temperature should be reduced by at least 25 degrees.

What is Rangetop Ware?
Range-top ware includes items used on top of the stove that come in direct contact with heat. Food is cooked by conduction-transfer of heat through pan to food. Basic to this category are:
Saucepans-have one long handle, come with or without lids in 5/8-qt. to 4-qt. sizes.
Sauce pots-have two side handles, 2-qt. to 20-qt. sizes.
Skillets-also called fry pans. Have one long handle, broad bottoms, shallow sidewalls. Come 6" to 12" diameters, round or square, regular or sautÈ (with curved flaring sides) shapes, with or without lids.
Dutch ovens-like sauce pots only made of heavier gauge metal: May be used on burner or in oven for slow cooking or braising meats.
Kettles-8-qt. to 16-qt. covered utensils with bail handle.
Griddles-have one long handle, two side handles or bail handle, wide bottoms, shallow sidewalls: are round, square or oblong.
Tea kettles-have curved or bail handles, 6-cup to 5 qt. capacity. Conventional or whistling. "Whistlers" have flip-up spout covers and trigger handles.

MICROWAVE COOKWARE

As a result of the increase in microwave oven sales, microwave cookware has emerged in a variety of materials-glass, glass ceramic, plastic and paper. Some cookware specifically for microwave ovens can also be refrigerated, frozen and used in conventional ovens.

You may not want to or cannot invest in a whole new set of cookware and will want to know which articles you already have that can be used in the ovens.

A simple test to determine if a dish is microwave-safe is to place the dish in question in the microwave along with a cup of cold water in a known microwave-safe item. Microwave on high (100 percent) power for one minute. If the water has heated and the dish has remained cool, it's microwave safe. If the dish tested has gotten warm or hot, it should not be used in the microwave oven.

A container used in microwave cooking must allow microwaves to pass through both it and the food. Contrary to popular belief, some metal can be used in microwave cooking; its reflective properties can even help protect food which might overheat in some areas.

Aluminum foil for shielding, small skewers and shallow food convenience trays can be used in microwave ovens; however, metal should be kept at least 1" away from oven walls, and deep trays and metal pans aren't suitable. Foil-lined cartons shield food completely, and don't heat food at all.

Generally speaking, shallow containers produce better results than deep ones; round shapes tend to be better than square or rectangular ones. Microwaves travel in straight lines, bouncing around the oven in irregular patterns. Therefore, sharp corners allow more exposure to microwave energy so the food in these areas dries out before the center is cooked.

Plastics for the most part are transparent to microwave energy and are ideal for microwave use. A variety of plastics is available, and the quality of the plastic in microwave ovenware has much to do with its safety. "Engineered" plastic (heavy-duty industrial grade) is not only more expensive than many plastics, it's likely to damage a microwave oven.

The Society of Plastics Industry is developing test methods for manufacturers of plastic cookware to use as guidelines in evaluating the durability and safety of their products. Newly developed, heavy-duty plastic microwave cookware that is not harmful to microwaves comes in a variety of shapes and sizes-from casserole dishes to muffin pans. Some of this cookware also can be used in conventional ovens at low temperatures.

In general, plastics are stain resistant, break resistant and freezable, but the combined production of steam and hot fans in microwave ovens can distort some of the less-durable plastics.

Those labeled to withstand boiling water, or as dishwasher safe, are often recommended for microwave use because they can take the heat of food for short reheating and thawing periods without melting or distorting. For true cooking, exotic resins like PBT, TPX, etc., have 350 degrees to 450 degrees melting points.

Melamine dishes are usually limited to one or two minutes of cooking time by most oven manufacturers, if they're recommended at all, because they can become very hot and scorch or crack.

Wood and natural materials such as straw are usually limited to one or two minutes of cooking time by most manufacturers of microwave ovens. The inherent or soaked-up moisture and fats in wood can absorb the microwaves and cause the wood to heat, resulting in drying, cracking or scorching.

Ceramics, including pottery and earthen-ware, are suitable for use in microwave ovens, but oven manufacturers recommend that they be tested first. Some ingredients that absorb microwave energy and heat rapidly to a high temperature are present in some ceramic dishes. Large amounts of these particles can result in the dish overheating and breaking.

Glass cookware is identified as heat resistant or non-heat resistant, while most glass-ceramic cookware is classified as glazed or unglazed. Most manufacturers recommend the use of heat-resistant glass or glass-ceramic cookware for microwave cooking.

Non-heat-resistant glass dishes are not treated to withstand the extreme and uneven heat normal in microwave cooking; i.e., the glass remains cool while food gets hot; the hot food then transfers heat at the points where it touches the glass, causing uneven heating in the glass that leads to breakage for non-heat-resistant glasses.

Glazed glass-ceramic dishes are not recommended for microwave oven use. The glazes contain relatively high percentages of ingredients which absorb microwave energy, causing the dishes to heat rapidly to high temperatures. This may result in breakage or could cause burns or spills if they are picked up without potholders or oven mitts by someone not expecting the dish or cup itself to be hot.

Heat-resistant and unglazed glass-ceramic ovenware is highly recommended for use by both ovenware and microwave-oven manufacturers because they are non-porous and cannot absorb moisture of food.

What Can You Use to Cook Food in Your Microwave?
TypeMicrowaveConventionalRangeBroilerFreezerDishwasher
Heat-Resist. GlassYYYNYY
Glass-CeramicYYYYYY
Pottery/Earthenware***NN*--
Paper***Y (short time)NNNYN
Straw/WoodY (short time)NNNNN
PlasticsY*Y*N*N***
Metal CookwareN*Y*Y*
Metal on GlasswareN******
Dinnerware GlazedNYNNYY
Unglazed Glass DinnerwareYYNNYY
Crystal/Cut GlassNNNNNot recommended*
Microwave Browning DishYNNNNY
*See manufacturer's directions
**Some microwave dishes use metal parts for shielding and are safe for microwave use.
***Does not include paper products manufactured for microwave ovens.

WATERLESS COOKWARE

Waterless cookware describes a heavy-gauge pan with tight-fitting cover that requires only a small quantity of liquid-either added by the cook or present in the food itself. Low heat is of utmost importance for food cooked by steam rather than by water.

Three benefits to using waterless cookware:

  1. Metal pans are formed with graduated thickness that, at a low temperature, spreads heat throughout the pan, al though only a small area may come in direct contact with the food. Heat reaches food from all directions.
  2. Rims and covers are made so that a ring of moisture forms in the crevice between cover flange and inside rim. This seals pan lid to the body and seals steam, moisture, flavors and odors inside pan. Covers are heavy enough that they won't be pushed up by steam collecting inside.
  3. The pans are self-basting. Steam forms in the pan, rises to the lid and falls back again and again into the food to keep it moist and juicy. No basting or stirring is necessary if the lid is not lifted. This only lets moisture escape and prolongs cooking time.

CLAY COOKWARE

The porous nature of terra cotta cookware allows for unique cooking methods. The cookware can be submersed in cold water prior to use; the clay absorbs the moisture which is then slowly released during cooking. If used dry, the food produces a thin, crisp crust because of moisture lost to the clay.

The cookware can be used in conventional, microwave and convection ovens. They are available in a variety of shapes from lasagna pans to muffin pans. Accessory items, such as wine coolers, are also available.

PRESSURE COOKERS AND FRYERS

Slightly different from other rangetop ware are pressure cookers and pressure fryers. Both specialize in fast cooking and retention of natural flavors, vitamins and colors of fruits and vegetables.

Pressure cookers have steam-tight covers that permit steam pressure of 5 to 15 lbs. Average size is 4 qt. capacity, but larger sizes (up to 22 qt.) are available. Foods cook under steam pressure three to 10 times faster than in ordinary pans. Flavors do not evaporate into the air or drown in water because cooking is done with no air and a small amount of water.

Pressure cookers are also economical. First are fuel savings because a whole meal-meat and vegetables-can be cooked in one pan on one burner. Second are grocery costs. Pressure cooking will tenderize less tender-and cheaper-cuts of meat.

If you have large gardens, cookers with a selective 5, 10, 15 lb. control double as pressure canners and provide (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture) the only safe way to can low-acid foods.

Because of construction features, steam venting and pressure-control devices on pressure cookers differ according to the manufacturer.

Low-pressure fryers fry foods in oil under pressure in about one-third of the time of conventional frying. Designed especially for pressure frying, these cookers maintain a pressure level around 5 to 6 lbs. per square inch. For proper browning and pressure frying, the oil should reach a temperature of 350 degrees F. Available in 4 and 6 qt. capacities, a pressure fryer features a pressure regulator, vent tube, safety vent and clamp to hold the lid on. Check manufacturer information for complete construction features as well as proper use and care instructions. Although pressure frying cannot be done in a conventional pressure cooker, regular pressure cooking can be done in pressure fryers.

NONSTICK FINISHES

Easy cleanup . . . cooking with less oil . . . moderate prices-all reasons why products with nonstick finishes are attractive to consumers.

Because DuPont's Teflon and SilverStone finishes are most widely known, information here deals with them. Other nonstick finishes include Fluon, made by ICI America, Inc.; Halon, made by Allied Corp.; Debron, and TFal.

TEFLON TFE FINISHES

Teflon TFE nonstick finishes referred to in the plural because the application process involves two coats: a primer with adhesive properties and a top coat of enamel containing color.

Teflon II coatings are scratch resistant and can be used with smooth-edged metal kitchen tools; they are available on all kinds of utensil-rangetop cookware, some small appliances and bakeware-and can be applied to aluminum, stainless-steel, cast iron and glass cookware, both electric and nonelectric.

Only those items bearing the Teflon II Certification Mark meet DuPont's standards of hard-based application and can be considered scratch resistant.

TeflonS, another non-stick finish manufactured by DuPont, is used on products such as steam irons, garden tools, range hoods and drill bits; it is not used on cooking utensils.

Certain other finishes, such as Tufram, have a hard material added to the Teflon; but according to DuPont, the surface, although harder, loses some of its nonstick properties.

WHAT WILL TEFLON DO?

When Teflon is applied to cookware, it produces a nonstick surface that reduces cleaning time and effort because food will not stick and burned-on residue comes off with ordinary dishwashing.

This same nonstick property makes it possible to cook without grease or cooking oils.

But Teflon is not a miracle covering. It won't keep food from burning if the pan gets too hot. It won't replace the flavor that cooking oil gives food, but neither will it substitute a foreign flavor or endanger health.

HOW TO USE TEFLON

While it isn't necessary to use cooking oils, in some instances it is recommended. As a general rule, follow the recipe-especially for baked foods. The nonstick finish assures that the finished product will come out of the pan cleanly and completely.

A new Teflon-coated pan should be washed, rinsed, dried and conditioned before it is used. Conditioning means covering the surface lightly with cooking oil, and this is particularly important for frying pans, grills and bakeware, except angel food pans. (If an angel food pan has been greased for any reason, the Teflon coating should be cleaned by rubbing vinegar or lemon juice over the entire surface, then washed thoroughly in hot suds, rinsed and dried.)

No matter what the base material, Teflon-coated frying pans and grills should be preheated. Medium to medium-high heat is best for aluminum and low to medium heat is best for porcelain-enameled pans. High heat, above 450 degrees , should be avoided because (1) food may burn and (2) the Teflon coating may discolor. Discoloring will not destroy the nonstick quality, but the pan's appearance will suffer.

Although food will not stick to Teflon finishes, grease may build up and cause stains and discoloring. Minor stains are normal and do not harm surface, but large stains, caused by improper cleaning or overheating, may result in the loss of nonstick property.

These stains and coloration can be partially removed or reduced by simmering any of the following solutions 15-20 minutes in the stained pan:

  1. 3 Tbsp. oxygen bleach and one tsp. liquid dish detergent in one cup water.
  2. 3 Tbsp. automatic dishwasher detergent in one cup water. Wash, rinse, dry and again condition with shortening or cooking oil.

Proper cleaning involves washing the pan with a soft cloth or sponge in hot water and detergent after each use and periodically scrubbing the surface with a plastic or rubber scrubber. A plastic-mesh dish pad or rubber scraper will remove a stubborn spot, but steel wool or scouring powder should never be used. Nylon, plastic, wooden or rubber utensils are preferred. Metal utensils can be used with care, but do not cut in the pan.

Automatic dishwashing will not harm Teflon surface, but may discolor the undercoated outside of the pan. When rinse water beads and runs off, Teflon surface is clean.

SILVERSTONE

Manufactured by DuPont, SilverStone a nonstick finish developed for heavy-gauge aluminum cookware.

Applied in a three-coat system and baked on at 800 degrees F, SilverStone has a smoother cooking surface than Teflon and is more resistant to scratching, peeling and chipping. Cookware with SilverStone can be used in ovens with temperatures up to 350 degrees F. The temperature limit is to protect the handles. It should not be used under a broiler.

Its care and use is the same as for Teflon II.

SilverStone Supra has most of the same properties as regular SilverStone coatings, but is more abuse resistant than earlier SilverStone. The Supra line costs about 20 percent more at retail than the regular SilverStone-coated items.

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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