by Ron Kurtus (revised 20 April 2002)
(NOTE: If you are looking replacement parts for your cookware or about specific brands, go to Waterless Cookware Companies for that information.)
Traditionally, most cooking has been done in water. Unfortunately, cooking in water often takes out many of the nutrients, as well as the flavor of the food. A method to avoid losing the natural nutrition of the food is to cook it in a near-waterless environment, using the food's natural juices. This usually requires special cookware.
Questions you may have on this are:
- What are the advantages of waterless cooking?
- How does waterless cooking work?
- Where can I buy waterless cookware?
The lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer
Advantages of Waterless Cooking
The waterless cooking method has a number of advantages over conventional cooking. First of all, consider the issues that people have when considering cooking food:
- Ease of cooking
- Amount of time cooking takes
- How difficult it is to clean the cookware
- Amount of fat and oil in the food
- Taste of the food
- Amount of nutrition left in the food
A surprising feature of waterless cooking is that it satisfies all the above criteria that a person would have in cooking. Cooking is easy and seems to take less time than conventional cooking. Since the heat is evenly distributed, there is no burning or sticking, making the pots easier to clean. You also don't have to use oil to prevent sticking. Since the food cooks in its natural juices, it tastes terrific and has more vitamins left in it.
Principles of Waterless Cookware
The principles of waterless cooking are relatively simple and straightforward.
High grade stainless steel used to protect food
Many people use Aluminum cookware because it heats faster. But there have been studies indicating that some Aluminum gets into the food, and it may not be good for your health. A solution is to use stainless steel cookware.
Waterless cookware is made of high grade stainless steel, which does not allow tastes from the metal to leach into the food. Stainless steel is also easier to clean and does not require such coatings as Teflon, which also may get into the food.
Some companies advertise that they use surgical stainless steel. All that means is that it is the highest grade. That is more about marketing than cooking.
Flat bottom used for efficient heat transfer
The bottom of the cookware is machined flat, so that as much surface as possible is in contact with the coils of an electric stove. The surface is also machined for better efficiency when using a gas stove.
Bottom plate used to evenly distribute heat
An aluminum or copper plate distributes the heat evenly along the bottom of the pot or pan. This eliminates hot spots that can burn the food. It also provides heat to the bottom in all directions.
Special lid used to keep water from escaping
The lid forms a seal with the pot, locking in the natural moisture that escapes from the food during the heating process. Foods can cook in their own natural juices, so that vitamins and minerals are retained.
Since vegetables contain a large quantity of water, there is no need to add any when cooking. Water that is released from the vegetables upon cooking turns into steam and is contained in the pot by the lid. The steam helps the cooking process.
Steam valve used to announce when to turn off heat
Once the natural juices create sufficient steam, a whistle or steam valve notifies the cook. At that time the cook can turn off the heat. This saves energy, and the food cooks at a constant temperature, because of the pot's heat retention capabilities and the heat of the steam inside the pot.
Iron core used to retain heat
Once the cookware gets hot, it retains its heat. The shiny surface of the stainless steel does not radiate much energy, and the iron core or plate maintains the temperature for continuous, constant temperature cooking with the heat turned off.
The result is surprising
The result of these features is that the food cooks quicker, at lower temperatures, and in their own juices. It is tastier and better for you.
Where can you buy this cookware?
Most waterless cookware is sold through "cooking parties" in people's homes. The price on the cookware is expensive. You can also buy less-expensive, similar cookware in department stores, but the quality is not as high.
A salesman usually demonstrates how to make a meal with their waterless cookware, and the guests can eat the food. The host or hostess usually gets a free pan as a reward for having the party.
At a cooking party that my wife and I attended, the salesman pre-heated a pan, dropped some raw chicken directly into the pan, laid some broccoli and potatoes on top, and then put on the cover. He didn't add any oil to keep the chicken from sticking to the pan. In 10 minutes the food was done.
The broccoli was simply delicious and very flavorful. The potatoes were good, and the chicken was evenly done and tasty. It was amazing. Also, the chicken did not stick to the pan nor was its surface burnt.
Other food selections he made were also easily completed without using water or oil, were done quickly, and were extremely tasty. In fact, I have never tasted such good vegetables before. Adding salt or seasoning actually ruined their taste. And the whole meal tasted healthy.
Interesting but expensive
This really got us interested in waterless cooking. Unfortunately, the cookware was obscenely expensive. A set of pots and pans from this manufacturer ranged from $2000 to over $5000!
Because of its construction, waterless cookware is a higher grade and costs more to manufacture. The few companies that make this type of cookware, such as West Bend and Regal Ware felt they could not compete on price in department stores, so they sell the products through mail order or direct sales.
(See Waterless Cookware Companies for links and phone numbers of companies selling cookware.)
Buying through mail order cuts the price in half, but it still seems somewhat expensive. Also, some companies won't allow their products to be sold that way.
You can also find cookware that has most of the same features and it almost waterless in department or cookware stores. It is much less expensive and has the advantage of being able to try a single pot to see how well it works, as opposed to purchasing a whole set.
Waterless cooking is terrific. The food is tastier and better for you. I am surprised that such a terrific, easy way to cook is not publicized more. If you have a chance to try some food cooked with this method, do so.
A positive attitude also helps you stay healthy
Resources and references
Healthy Meat and Potatoes by Charles Knight, H.P. Books (2001) $16.95 - Cookbook on using waterless/greaseless cookware from creator of Health Craft cookware.
Questions and comments
Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
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