What Is Hard Anodized Cookware?
Anodizing is a process in which aluminum cookware is immersed in a chemical bath and treated with an electrical current to create a layer of oxide on the surface. This aluminum oxide layer has a depth of up to 0.3mm, making the cookware resistant to corrosion and warping. Cookware made from electrochemically hardened aluminum is 8x harder than plain aluminum cookware.
Another plus is that the aluminum oxide layer is non-reactive, and it prevents the aluminum base from leaching into food. This makes cooking with hard anodized cookware much safer than with plain aluminum. Regular aluminum cookware can react with acidic food and many people are concerned about the negative effects of aluminum. The adonizing process solved this problem by creating a barrier between the metal and the food.
Although hard-adonized cookware is a favorite among professional and home cooks, this cookware has both positives and negatives.
Hard Anodized Cookware Pros
- Durable: Unlike aluminum, which is soft and prone to denting, hard anodized cookware is resistant to scratching, warping, and other types of damage. Since it is also corrosion-resistant, this cookware will stand the test of time with proper use and maintenance.
- Superior heat conductor: The best part of hard anodized cookware is its exceptional thermal conductivity. Aluminum conducts heat incredibly well, without hot spots which is vital for dishes that require good temperature control. Use potholders and oven mitts when handling hot pans.
- Time and energy saver: The hard-anodized aluminum construction ensures fast heat distribution, so not much energy is required to heat the pan. Since hard-anodized cookware isn’t prone to warping it won’t wobble on a range. Instead, it lays flat on the stove and heats quickly and evenly without wasting energy. The hard-anodized aluminum pan needs less heat than one made of stainless steel and cooks faster, allowing you to save time in the kitchen.
- Lightweight: Regular aluminum is a very light metal, and aluminum cookware is very easy to handle. Hard anodized cookware is less weighty than most cookware made from other materials and you won’t strain your wrist when lifting it.
- Versatile: Hard-anodized cookware is suitable for all stove tops except for an induction stove. Manufacturers sometimes install ferro material in the bottom, to make the pan induction-ready. Hard anodized cookware is a good option for glass cooktops because it has a flat bottom layer that won’t damage the glass. Hard-anodized cookware can be used for different cooking methods and the preparation of a wide spectrum of dishes.
- Reasonably priced: You can buy a set of hard anodized cookware at a reasonable price. This reliable cookware is more affordable than stainless steel or multi-clad cookware.
Hard Anodized Cookware Cons
- Incompatible with Induction cooktops: Since an induction cooker requires cookware made of ferrous materials, hard anodized cookware does not meet that requirement. To make this cookware usable on an induction stove, manufacturers add ferro material to the bottom of the pan. Such pan can be used on an induction stove making hard anodized cookware even more versatile. The addition of a ferromagnetic base adds a bit of weight making the cookware less convenient to handle.
- Not suitable for high heat: Low or medium heat is recommended when using this cookware. Don’t leave the cookware unattended on high heat. The food won’t be cooked correctly, and the outcome might be burnt dishes. High heat will also shorten the life of the extra nonstick layer.
Can hard anodized cookware go in the oven?
Hard anodized cookware can withstand oven temperatures up to 600 degrees F. However, keep in mind that the non-stick layer added to this cookware may lower the tolerance to high oven temperatures. Carefully read the instructions to find out the maximum oven temperature for your cookware. In addition to the non-stick coating, there are other limiting factors such as lids, plastic or polymer handles, and knobs. Pans with stainless steel handles are oven-safe up to 500 degrees F, while silicone handles can tolerate heat up to 400 degrees F.
Is hard anodized cookware nonstick?
The anodizing process makes cookware non-stick to some extent, but it is still necessary to coat the pan with oil before baking. To get a completely nonstick cooking surface, manufacturers often add an extra non-stick layer for effortless food release. Thus, modern hard anodized cookware is most often made of a heavy gauge aluminum base coated with one or more non-stick layers.
Can you use metal utensils on hard anodized cookware?
Although hard anodized cookware is sturdy and durable, avoid using metal utensils, regardless of advertising. Metal utensils like spatulas and stirring spoons can damage the protective oxidizing layer. If the dishes have an extra non-stick coating, it is also not recommended to use a sharp metal spatula. Cooking utensils made of wood, bamboo, nylon, and silicone are a much better choice.
Can hard anodized cookware go in the dishwasher?
In the user manual, we can often see that hard anodized cookware is dishwasher safe. However, most cookware has one or more additional non-stick layers. Any non-stick cookware will last longer if washed by hand. Detergents and heat in the dishwasher can shorten the non-stick functionality, and hard anodized nonstick cookware isn’t an exception.
How to clean hard anodized cookware?
Certain brands of hard anodized cookware are dishwasher safe, but you need to read the user manual to make sure that this applies to the cookware you have purchased. If you hand wash the cookware only, you can be sure that it will stay in good condition for a long time. Plus, this cookware is very easy to wash by hand.
Before the first use, the cookware should be washed with warm water and a liquid dishwashing detergent. Rinse it with warm water and dry it immediately to avoid water spots. If you stack pots and pans, put paper towels in the bottom of each piece to prevent scratching.
For regular washing after use, wash the cookware in warm soapy water using a soft sponge or a nylon scrubbing pad. Let the cookware cool to room temperature before cleaning but don’t leave it unwashed for a long time, as food residue may harden.
For burned food residue boil in the pan 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.
Avoid using harsh detergents, steel scouring pads, and other abrasives as they can damage the protective layer. This precaution also applies to cookware with an extra non-stick coating.
To remove burnt marks on the exterior, use Bar Keeper’s Friend Cleanser and a non-abrasive sponge.
With proper care Investing in hard anodized cookware will pay for itself in the long run.
How long does hard anodized cookware last?
Hard-anodized aluminum cookware is known for its durability. Cookware with added non-stick coating does not last long because the functionality of the non-stick coating tends to decrease with time and use. This practically means that after a few years of regular use, you might want to replace your old nonstick cookware with a new set.