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Use the right cookware |

Use the right cookware

Rohini Diniz

It is important to use proper cooking methods and also choose the correct cooking utensils. Cooking results in chemical reactions between the food and materials of the utensils leading to leaching of some of the minerals into the food. Let’s examine the pros and cons of some of the commonly used cooking utensils.

Aluminium: Since World War II aluminium has been used the world over for the manufacture of cookware and aluminium foil and wrappers. Aluminium cookware is cheap and light in weight. It has good heat conductivity, is easy to wash and clean and resistant to atmospheric oxidation. Aluminium cookware is highly reactive with acids, alkalis and salt and leaches into the food when dishes containing tomato, tamarind, lime juice, vinegar kokum or soda bicarbonate are cooked or stored in them. Hence foods cooked in aluminium utensils should be transferred to glass or ceramic or steel utensils. Aluminium cookware that have worn out or got pitted should be discarded as aluminium leaches easily from them. Aluminium is not an essential mineral for humans and there is increasing scientific evidence which indicates the possible role of aluminium in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stainless steel: The use of stainless steel cookware is becoming very popular today. Stainless steel is an alloy of steel along with chromium either alone or in combination with small amounts of nickel and molybdenum. Stainless steel does not react with the foods during cooking and can be safely used for cooking all types of foods. Unlike aluminium and copper which are good conductors of heat, stainless steel has less heat conductivity but this problem has been overcome by the availability of copper bottomed or sandwich bottomed stainless steel utensils.

Earthenware: Since ancient times man has been using earthen utensils for cooking and storing food. These vessels were available in different shapes and sizes but are fast disappearing from our kitchens today. Earthen utensils are the safest for cooking as they are inert and do not react with the constituents of food and have good heating properties. Earthen utensils are somewhat porous and have a unique property of locking in steam and vapour that evaporates during cooking. Hence additional water does not have to be added resulting in better retention of nutrients in the food. Food cooked in earthenware also needs less oil so food has a lower content of added fat. Another advantage of cooking in earthen pots is that clay is alkaline and will interact with acidity in the food neutralising the pH balance of the food. Food cooked and stored in earthen pots does not spoil easily even when stored at room temperature. Curd set in clay pots is tastier and thicker in consistency since the clay absorbs the extra moisture.

When using earthenware for the first time, wash the cookware properly. Then boil some water in it to remove the earthy smell. Then dry them and temper the vessel by heating some oil in it.

Non-stick cookware: Non-stick cookwares include pots and pans whose surfaces have been coated with a polymer polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a well-known brand of which is Teflon. Apart from PTFE coatings, non-stick cookware is also manufactured using ceramic coatings or hard anodised aluminium. Non-stick cookware is safe, convenient to use and easy to clean. It also requires little oil or butter making it a healthy way to cook and fry food. However certain precautions should be taken when using non-stick cookware.

Non-stick cookware should only be used on low or medium heat.

Those containing PTFE coatings should not be preheated empty as they produce toxic irritating fumes.

Unless specified as metal spoon friendly, metal ladles, spoons or spatulas and other sharp cutlery should not before stirring or for removing food from pans as they can easily damage the non-stick finish. Spoons, ladles, spatulas and forks made of wood, bamboo, food grade silicon or nylon are safe to use when cooking in non-stick cookware.

Do not wash non-stick cookware while it is hot as it damages the coating. Allow it to cool and then wash them using a soft sponge or scrubber. Once the non-stick coatings get scratched or pitted, replace the damaged cookware.

To be continued. . .

(Writer is a Consultant Nutritionist with 18 years of experience, practicing at Panaji and can be contacted on


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