The Evolution of Cookware
It has been discovered that the earliest pottery was used in China, back in the days of the hunters and gatherers, and basic roasting was used in the Stone Age. Over time, Asia used bamboo tubes sealed at the end with clay for cooking; Mexicans began carving large stone bowls as early as 7000 BC; and Native Americans used cooking baskets made of woven mesh casings. Roasting baskets, covered with clay and filled with wood coals became early roasting pans.
The steady progression of cookware led to fireproof cookware of all types. Cookware was coated with plant gum and later with glazes to waterproof. Ceramic pots were used in ovens, but bronze and iron were slow to develop due to cost. After the development of metal cookware, cauldrons became popular in Medieval times, where shallow pans were also used and spits were for roasting. By the 17th Century, Western kitchens contained skillets, baking pans, kettles, pots and trivets. Brass and copper were common in Asia and Europe, while the use of cast iron cookware was more popular in the American Colonies. During the 19th and 20th centuries, metallurgy improved, resulting in cost effective pots and pans made from steel and aluminum.
Today, thankfully, our kitchens are stocked with cookware in all styles, shapes and colors. Aluminum cookware is lightweight and good for thermal conductivity. Copper is a great material for even heating. Cast iron maintains slow even heat and withstands high temperatures, which is excellent for searing. Stainless is preferred for resistance to corrosion, scratching and denting. Non-stick cookware, first developed in 1893, prevents sticking and is easier to clean. Non-metallic materials, such as glass or ceramics have been perfected for oven cooking.