If you are lucky enough to have a ceramic glass cook-top in your kitchen, then you know you have one of the most modern, state-of-the-art stove tops around.
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You probably also know that this beautiful stovetop dream comes with some quirks.
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Glass ceramic cooktops look great and are easy to clean, but they can also get damaged by scratches or cracks. One of the most important things you can do to maintain your gorgeous (and probably expensive) cooktop is to buy and use pots and pans that won’t damage the surface.
What not to use
Some of the pots and pans you have used your whole life might not be the best choice for a new ceramic glass cooktop. These are some kinds of cookware to be wary of:
Ridged bottom pots and pans
Anything with a ridged bottom (which is very common) can leave severe scratches on a ceramic glass cooktop. The ridges are part of the design of a lot of pots and pans because they help to distribute the heat evenly. This was important on older smooth-top stoves and gas stoves. However, with a ceramic glass cooktop, you aren’t going to need that, and the ridges pose much more of a risk than a benefit.
Lightweight pots and pans
This is more of a safety concern for people than it is for the stove top. Sometimes, with the very smooth stovetop, these pots and pans can move of their own accord as they heat up, sliding on the stove. This is unsafe, especially if there are any kids in the house.
This movement can also cause scratches and marks on the cooktop, so lightweight cookware is terrible news for your ceramic glass cooktop.
Painted or enameled pots and pans
Now, for me, this one is a bummer. I love the painted, enamel coated pots and pans. I love the color they add to my kitchen and table, and I think they look so much better than most metal pans.
However, they’re not suitable for ceramic glass cooktops. It’s important to remember every pan will be sitting directly on the surface of the stove, and this stovetop needs more special care and cleaning than others. Paint and enamel can cause scuffs, marks, and discolorations on the stovetop. Of course, they can still be used as serving dishes!
What to use
So now you might be wondering, “then what do I use?”
Don’t worry; there are still plenty of things you can use on your shiny new ceramic glass stovetop. Anodized aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel are materials that will keep your ceramic top looking just as fresh as the day you purchased it.
However, they don’t come cheap.
By far the best cookware option for this stovetop is stainless steel. It is durable, practical, and usually doesn’t come with the problems mentioned above.
Some stainless steel comes with a metal disk attached to the bottom; this can be even better than other stainless steel, as the disk adds some weight which helps prevent the pans from sliding.
Let’s take a look at some pitfalls you should be careful not to fall into when purchasing stainless steel cookware:
Purchasing low-grade stainless steel
Not all stainless steel cookware made equal. Many people are under the assumption that merely having a cooking set constructed of stainless steel is good enough. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stainless steel by itself isn’t particularly good at transferring heat, nor is it automatically capable of withstanding extreme temperatures while retaining its structural integrity.
Be sure to skip right on by stainless steel that is a poor grade, not only will it not conduct heat very well, but it will quickly begin to warp, making it even more inconsistent.
When shopping for stainless steel never get any grades below 300series (18/10 or 18/8) and go with 400 (18/0) whenever possible -these numbers represent the amount of chromium and nickel in the cookware.
Typically, this higher grade of stainless steel will have copper or aluminum bottoms to ensure better heat distribution and conductivity (this is called tri-ply construction and is most desired in stainless steel cookware).
Make sure lids are durable
Companies will often construct their pots and pans with a higher quality stainless steel than the lids to those pots and pans. Make the covers for the containers are capable of withstanding the same temperatures that the pan itself can (this is especially important when you transfer from stovetop to oven while cooking.
Improper cleaning techniques
Because stainless steel requires more maintenance, the cleaning process is even more essential and bit more tedious as well; proper cleaning techniques are critical when it comes to maintaining the life of your cookware.
It will be tempting to clean your pans with wire brushes so you can quickly and easily bring back that shine that it came with, this is a mistake. The wire bristles on the sponge will scratch the surface of the pan creating divets that cause food to stick over time, and even resulting in less consistent heat distribution.
Instead, you should clean your cooking set with a dish rag using cleaning products like Bar Keepers Friend. Afterward, go ahead and use some warm water and mild dish detergent to finish the job (be sure to dry it thoroughly to keep unsightly water spots from showing up).
REMEMBER: Always use dish cloths or non-abrasive sponges!!!
Purchasing whole sets
This isn’t such an obvious mistake, and it’s one that I’ve made a few times in the past. Over time I realized that I rarely used half of the pots and pans that come in a set, and it most definitely wasn’t enough to justify the amount I paid for them.
High-quality stainless steel is going to be expensive enough as it is, so stick to buying the tools you are sure to utilize on a daily basis. You can always go out and purchase that additional small stockpot later on if need be.
Here are some good stainless steel options to choose from:
Calphalon Tri-Ply Saute Pan
Earlier we talked about how the best version of stainless steel cookware out there is tri-ply, this is because it takes two stainless steel sheets and wraps them around an aluminum core for perfect heat distribution.
This Calphalon saute pan is a 5-quart pan (also available in 3-quarts), the tri-ply construction is all throughout the pan to give you excellent heat distribution all the way around, even on the sides of the pan.
All-Clad Professional Master Chef Bi-Ply Cookware Set
In this set you’ll get; two frying pans (one eight-inch and one ten-inch), two saucepans (two and 3.5 quarts) each with lids, a three-quart saute pan and an eight-quart stockpot with a lid.
The MC2 Professional set is not dishwasher safe but is easy enough to clean, and food doesn’t stick to it. Truthfully though, any cookware of this caliber should be washed by hand.
This bi-ply set doesn’t have stainless steel on the outside. Instead, the outside layer is aluminum. While it isn’t the absolute best quality cookware that All-Clad produces (look into their tri-ply or 5-ply cookware if you want their absolute best quality), it is undoubtedly high-quality cookware.
Viking Professional 5-Ply
This particular 5 Ply Viking set is a minimalist set containing only the items you are sure to use on a daily basis. It includes; one ten-inch frying pan, a six-quart stockpot with a lid, and a 3.4-quart casserole pan and lid.
Having five different layers of metal will make these pans a little heavier than what you will have come to expect from typical three-ply cookware. Additionally, 5-ply cookware is less susceptible to warping from extreme heat exposure (not that three-ply is in grave danger of warping).
Calphalon Triply Stir Fry Pan
If you plan on cooking stir fry meals on your new ceramic stovetop, then you will definitely need to get a high-quality stir-fry pan. Stir fry pans are different from a traditional wok in that it has a flat bottom rather than a rounded one (a necessity if you want to set it on a stove).
The Calphalon Triply stirfry pan has a tempered glass lid making it oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
All-Clad Saucier “Weeknight” Pan With Lid
This pan is perfectly versatile, capable of sauteing, searing, simmering, and browning meats. It’s 2.5-quart holding capacity enables you to cook entire meals for a small family without having to dirty any more than one pan.
Of course, All-Clad is all about premium quality. This pan is Try-ply 18/10 stainless steel with a riveted handle for extra durability, and an airtight stainless steel lid for trapping heat.
Stainless steel isn’t your only option though. Aluminum and titanium can also be useful if they don’t have ridges on the bottom.
This cookware is significantly less expensive than stainless steel, it is very light, and can conduct heat surprisingly well for something so lightweight. However, there are some downsides to it.
Aluminum is extremely reactive to acidic foods such as fish and fresh meats (something you are sure to be cooking a lot of). Becuase it is a relatively soft metal it is also liable to warp when exposed to high heat and tends to scratch easily.
There is, however, a variation of aluminum cookware that is a significantly better option than raw aluminum, anodized aluminum. Anodized aluminum is made by subject the aluminum to a treatment process that builds the natural coating of oxide on the metal making it harder and more resistant to heat and scratches.
It will also be much less reactive to acidic foods, giving you more life out of the pan. The flip side is, the anodized aluminum pans will be much more expensive than traditional aluminum cookware.
Titanium is the lightest weighted cookware you can purchase before you begin to sacrifice in the strength department. Being titanium, it is, stable transfers heat well, and it has natural non-stick qualities, allowing you to forego the non-stick chemical coating that most cookware is sprayed with.
Because it is such low maintenance, it is one of the most coveted cooking materials for in-home use and restaurants alike. However, much like stainless steel (without an aluminum core), titanium is very thin, and it doesn’t distribute heat evenly.
However, investing in a set of really good stainless steel cookware, like the brand All-Clad, will serve you and your stovetop best. It will be an investment as high-quality cookware doesn’t come cheap. But it does come with the guarantee that it will last a long time, won’t damage your cooktop, and will consistently make delicious food.
It’s possible that you aren’t ready to drop a chunk of cash on buying all new pots and pans. So you’re probably looking for some tips to make sure you don’t damage your cooktop until you get the ideal cookware.
You can use some of your older pots and pans with minimal risk if you’re careful. In fact, these tips and tricks should be used even once you have fancier pots and pans to help maintain your beautiful stovetop for a lifetime.
Always lift pans
Don’t get into the habit of sliding pots and pans across the stovetop surface; this can cause severe scratches and scuffs to appear on the cooktop. Always lift and carry pots and pans, just like you would on a gas stove. Sliding cookware causes anything on the stovetop to be dragged under the pan, damaging the surface beneath it.
Be careful with heavier cookware
Things like cast iron can pack some serious weight, cracking and damaging ceramic glass cooktops if they’re dropped or banged onto the surface. Be especially careful with these pieces, making sure they’re set down gently.
Clean up immediately
If you notice a spill, scuff, or small scratch, clean the area as soon as possible. You’ll often be able to avoid staining, or making the problem worse, by handling it immediately. Just be careful if the surface is hot!
My top choice
I chose to go with the Viking set because it gives me exactly what I need in a cooking set, without the extra pieces that will rarely even be used, saving me tons of money. That and I am beginning to enjoy 5-ply cooking sets a lot. I don’t notice that it cooks the food any better, but I really like the additional weight to the pans because they give me the impression of being more durable (even if it is only in my head).
It’s important to think carefully about how you’re going to handle a ceramic glass cooktop. It will look amazing in the kitchen, and will cook beautifully, but will also need a little extra TLC.
So maybe you’re ready to buy a whole new set of cookware to help maintain your stovetop. Or perhaps you’re looking to try to get more use out of your current set. Either way, it’s important to be aware of how your habits in the kitchen might need a little adjustment to keep your stovetop looking and working great.