Everything you need to know about the composition of your cookware. How is cookware made? What kind of metal is best for cooking? And what types of cookware should you have in your kitchen?
Home chefs spend a lot of time ruminating over recipes, planning meals and purchasing quality ingredients. But what about their cookware? If you’re not giving your cookware as much thought as your dinner, you might be missing the most important ingredient.
In this quick and easy, down and dirty guide to ply, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about your cookware’s composition so you can choose the best tools to bring out the most flavor in your home-cooked meals.
Chatter about Cladding
Cladding is a method of metal fabrication. Layers of different metals (in cookware usually a highly conductive interior to distribute heat and a non-reactive exterior to protect ingredient integrity) are bonded together as a new, single sheet of metal. Ply describes the layers of metal contained in a pan's clad metal. Common varieties of ply include 3-ply, 5-ply, and 7-ply.
When it comes to cookware, cladded metal creates an efficient and even cooking surface. Not all clad cookware, however, is created equal.
The Jive with Ply
Some pots and pans might be advertised as clad, but are manufactured with only a heat distributing disc on the bottom, rather than being completely molded from a fully clad material.
Cookware manufactured entirely from high quality clad metal will consistently conduct heat from the base to the top edge and create an evenly heated cooking surface.
When you’re shopping for cookware, make sure to do your homework and look into the cladding’s composition.
As we mentioned earlier, “ply” describes the layers of metal contained in a pan's clad metal. Common varieties of ply include:
Tri-Ply (3-Ply) - Three layers usually comprised of a layer of copper or aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel.
5-Ply - Contains two more interior layers of a heat conductive metal than tri-ply.
7-Ply - Contains four additional interior layers of a heat conductive metal between the non-reactive metal exteriors.
Depending on the quality of the manufacturing, a higher ply does not always directly translate to higher quality cookware. The overall thickness of the pot or pan's material and overall distribution of the clad metal throughout the cookware will affect heat distribution.
Do Metals Matter?
Yes, metal composition of cookware matters. The type of metal clad inside and on the cooking surface of pan, pot or skillet affects heat distribution, durability and can also change the flavor of food prepared in the pan.
Some metals, such as cast iron, are considered highly reactive, meaning they not only readily distribute heat, but they also affect the flavor of foods cooking inside them. Reactive metals are great for conduction but do not make a good cooking surface. (Need more info on different types of cooking metals? Head to our cookware guide to learn more.)
Pots which feature aluminum or copper interiors and less reactive exteriors, like stainless or carbon steel, make for the best cooking conditions - they evenly and efficiently distributed heat without imparting outside flavor.
Furthermore, the cladding process allows you to select a certain metal like an induction-compatible stainless for the bottom of the pan, while not having to use it throughout.
Time to Bond?
The most premium materials will be rendered useless if the cladder doesn’t properly bond the metals together. Working with a partner who has the experience and machinery to ensure the highest-level bonding will guarantee a long-lasting pan that will hold up to extreme heats.
The best metal cladders use “stress tests” to make sure only the highest quality cladded discs head to the punching process.
At Made In, we hand-craft, 5-ply stainless steel cookware. We manufacture our cookware in the United States with a family-owned, third-generation factory that’s perfected the process - they source all of their raw materials in the U.S and use established experts with the best techniques to clad our cookware.
As a result, we’ve come to know a lot about metal, cladding, and cookware. So even if you don’t buy Made In, we’re here to help you through any cookware confusion.
Email us or reach out on social to start chatting and cladding.