A recent and continuing trend in kitchenware and cookware across the world has been the move away from non-stick pans and towards surgical steel cookware. This has trended even further into surgical steel cookware becoming more popular across the country and more and more available. But what exactly is this cookware and why are so many people buying and using it?
Well, first of all, surgical steel is, as its name suggests, a type of steel that is often used in the manufacture of surgical tools or sometimes even surgical implants. Commonly called 316 surgical stainless steel. There is another variation of stainless steel called 304 which is a slight variation, but both perform equally well.
Part of the reason both will perform equally well is that surgical steel cookware is not made entirely of surgical steel. Typically the steel is bonded together with other kinds of metal in layers or plys, similar to plywood. Plywood is made of different kinds of wood, layered and glued together to create a piece of wood stronger than a single piece of wood of the same thickness. The same is true for the construction process of stainless steel cookware. The plys work together to make a product that is far stronger and better at cooking than cookware made with just a single layer of surgical steel of equal thickness.
But what are the plys made of?
Typically they are made of aluminum, although some are made of titanium or high-carbon steel. Aluminum does a great job of spreading out the heat applied to a pan or pot so that it cooks evenly. Some surgical steel cookware sets come with an aluminum pad or disk at the base of the pan to improve cooking, although this is not always necessary. Stainless steel pots and pans are available from different manufacturers in 3-ply, 5-ply, and even 7-ply variations, with of course differing prices. The number of plys typically determines the quality of the cookware or their cooking ability. Some of the biggest names in the culinary world will only use 7-ply surgical steel cookware.
Why, after so many years of non-stick cookware being the hottest thing going, has surgical steel come to the head of the pack?
Well, a lot of it has to do with health concerns. The same concerns that have brought BPA-free plastic into the mainstream have taken aim at what exactly non-stick cookware requires in order to be non-stick. As many people who have used non-stick cookware know, that coating doesn’t last forever. Over time it can be scratched, worn off, chipped off and possibly end up in your food. Also, the toxins that could possibly be released by the non-stick coating are a cause for concern as well. This is part of the reason driving the move towards surgical steel cookware.
Another factor is the recent popularity of waterless cooking. Cookware made from surgical steel is seen as perfect for this type of cooking. What is waterless cooking? Waterless cooking is the concept of cooking food without adding any oil or water to the food being cooked. Utilizing this method allows the food to cook in its own juices which maintains much higher nutritional value.
How does that work?
Quite well claim its fans. Although the sets are waterless, most methods will recommend adding a tiny bit of water to the bottom of the pot or pan to start the process. Waterless cooking is in many ways very similar to steaming. A well-fitting lid is put on the pot. The lid has a vent in it. Heat is turned up and the food is cooked until steam begins to escape from this vent, at which time the heat is turned either off or down to a very low temperature. The heat retained by the surgical steel pot or pan and the steam circulating inside the closed environment will continue to cook the food until it is finished.
Surgical steel cookware is crucial to this method of cooking because it does not leach any metals into the food, nor does it affect the taste of the finished product. It cleans up easily or with a little bit of elbow grease and allows the food to continue tasting good without the need of a non-stick coating.
Surgical steel cookware or stainless steel cookware are essential elements in waterless cooking, however they can also be used for regular, everyday cooking styles as well. Offering durability without the risk of any chemicals affecting the food or your health, surgical steel cookware is a smart choice for everyone.
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