There are many types of cookware on the market today. A good friend recently asked if hard anodized aluminum cookware was good cookware and also what exactly it was. So for all of you who read those words and don't really know what they mean, here are some tips to hard anodized aluminum cookware.
What is anodized aluminum?
In simple terms this is a hard protective oxidized layer formed on the surface of the aluminum as the result of a chemical reaction. The aluminum is placed into an acid bath. Like a battery the aluminum becomes the positive anode and the acid the negative anode. When an electric charge is passed through the acid bath the aluminum reacts quickly with oxygen forming aluminum oxide on the surface. The aluminum oxide replaces the aluminum on the surface it forming a hard non porous outer layer. Voila, you have anodized aluminum.
Does it make good cookware?
In one word, Yes.
Hard anodized aluminum is easily twice as strong as stainless steel so it makes cookware that does not dent easily and can take a lot of abuse in the kitchen. This surface can also stand up to metal cooking tools so you don't necessarily need to stay with nylon, silicon or wooden cooking tools, although they are easier on all types of cookware. If you have heard any stories about metal leaching into food during the cooking process you can rest easy with hard anodized aluminum cookware because it is nonporous and will not react at all with your food.
Hard anodized aluminum has the quick and even heating that cooks love in aluminum cookware. Foods do not stick to the bottom and burn and you don't need to constantly be scraping the bottom of the pan every few minutes so you can let your sauce cook up for hours and still get something else done. You also won't need to worry about those embarrassing flakes of burnt food in your sauce. If you are on a mission to provide healthier food for your family this type of cookware can be very beneficial as you need to use very little oil or butter. You can get a great tasting dish without the unnecessary fat calories to clog your arteries.
Hard anodized aluminum cookware is some of the toughest most durable cookware on the market today. This cookware is highly resistant to corrosion so the surface will not peel and chip leaving bits of the cooking surface in your food. Anyone who has used nonstick cookware in the past has probably had this happen. Technology has come a long way for us home cooks. Hard anodized aluminum is heat resistant up to the melting point of aluminum or around 1221 degrees Fahrenheit so you can be sure you won't damage it on your stove. The non porous, nonstick surface also allows for super easy cleanup. This is important because the anodized surface can be damaged by harsh dishwasher detergent and must be hand washed. There are some brands that claim to be dishwasher safe, however, I would play it on the safe side and hand wash to protect your investment.
The one downside of hard anodized aluminum cookware can be the price. It does tend to be a little pricier, however, the durability and cooking performance of a good cookware set is well worth the investment if you do a lot of home cooking. Beware of some of the cheaper brands as the base metal may contain a combination of alloys that will not give the quality or even heating performance of a good quality aluminum based cookware. So good brands to look at are Calphalon, All Clad, Cuisinart and Circulon. A great piece of advice is to get the best set you can afford in your budget because you get what you pay for but it doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg either. Get the best quality in your price range and you will be fine. And that my friends is the basic lowdown on hard anodized cookware.