This week’s SHOP-TIL-YOU-DROP SATURDAY is about a Stainless Steel Cookware Set that I’ve been using since the beginning of the year. It is available at Amazon.com for 74% off and I can’t say enough about it! It has rescued my cooking and is keeping us toxin-free. Here is my *updated* review of this product:
I don’t know if you are at the same stage I was : I wanted to avoid the potential perils of non-stick coatings and yet felt a little apprehensive about using Stainless Steel. There are some very negative reviews for similar products, along the lines that they don’t cook anything “right” and a jackhammer is required as standard cleaning equipment. You’ll be pleased to know that neither could be further from the truth in my experience using this set (the Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set).
I was a first-time Stainless Steel user. I am not a prize-winning chef. I had just switched to cooking whole-foods from scratch; and I mean “just”. So I was not only behind on my cooking skills, but I had never used such high-quality equipment before (dollar-store plastic utensils, anyone?). The turning point came when I found little black bits of non-stick coating in my fresh batch of home-made refried beans. Very frustrating. I can’t fault the coating because it was over seven years old. At the first sign of a scratch, non-stick cookware is supposed to be replaced. That’s one reason why I was looking for a long-life, heavy duty cookware set with NO COATINGS TO SCRATCH. I read one study that said the fumes from non-stick coatings at high temperatures have killed birds in a lab. Nice. So I threw my “toxic” refried beans in the trash and let my hubby know I couldn’t cook with the pot anymore. A week later he bought this set for me (at my recommendation)! I guess he likes my refried beans!
If you want to use this set proficiently and aren’t used to stainless steel, you’ll have to adjust–not lower–your expectations. It stands to reason that if this cookware is designed differently and made of different materials than the set you are used to, it is going to behave differently. If you want to produce the same results that you’re used to, you’ll have to adjust your cooking methods. It’s actually not hard to do at all. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking and cleaning. Watch a couple videos on the web about how to preheat a pan and how to determine it is at the right temperature for pan-frying, etc. It will only take you ten minutes of watching/reading but it will save you from potential disappointment. If others use these sets with no problems, you can too; you’ll have to be willing to learn and do what they did. It is exciting to learn a new skill! This is the perfect set for that; because the inner core extends all the way to the top of each pan, they heat up evenly, making it difficult to burn food; a good thing for a novice to know!
These pans look beautiful. The glass lids from my old set fit the pans perfectly, so now I have two sets of lids; I can use glass lids (from my old set) when I want to keep an eye on things, and stainless steel lids for oven cooking. I smile every time I pull these pans out of the drawer; they gleam at me every day! Who said diamonds are a girls’ best friend? He/she obviously didn’t cook!
I’ve used all the pans in the first two weeks I had them. I pan-fried battered fish, salmon, scrambled eggs, taco meat, burgers, home-made Italian sausage, hard-boiled eggs, home-made spaghetti sauce, and dosas with no issues. I made cream-of-garlic soup, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, and chicken noodle soup in the stock pot. I used the little pot with the steamer insert for broccoli, green beans, and baby carrots (it’s so nice to have brightly colored vegetables that are hot and still a little crisp). They all work brilliantly!
The pans have acquired some mild discoloration on the bottom (caused by use); I have a gas range so they are over an open flame. Bar Keeper’s Friend is supposed to get that off so I’m not worried about it. I try to avoid commercial cleaners as much as I can: I have kept these pans otherwise spotless using a mild castile soap, baking soda for a mild discoloration caused by taco meat, and vinegar for a slight starch residue left by some rice. I haven’t had any cleaning issues: I rinse the pans out with very hot water from the faucet as soon as I am finished with each and hand-wash them later with a dishrag and soap (the only thing I’ve had to scrub was a little residue from scrambled eggs: it came off with little effort).
As for sticking: no problems! I make sure to preheat the pan using medium-low heat. I use the preheating time to chop my veggies and prepare side-dishes, so these pans have actually “trained” me to be a better-organized cook. Once the pan is very warm on the edge, I typically reduce the heat to low. That’s the great thing about these pans: I used to cook meals on a 6/7 on my gas range with the cheap non-stick pans: now I cook them on a 2/3! Talk about energy savings! The food is fully cooked but more MOIST! Everything tastes better. I told my stepdaughter not to tell my husband that: he’ll just have to think I am improving dramatically!
The handles stay cool: the pans are weighty but not too heavy and are well-balanced. I love using them. I’ve recommended this set to my family and friends. While there are higher-end stainless steel sets out there by other brands, they come with a $500-$1000 price tag. This set really is the best deal out there with a much better quality than most cookware sets. I highly recommend this set: I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a challenge to learn something new, but it has been a very rewarding experience.
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