A while back, a friend made the Apple-Red Wine Tart (in Ready for Dessert), which calls for the fruit to be cooked in red wine in a nonreactive pan. I didn’t realize it at the time, but many people don’t know what nonreactive cookware is and he called to tell me the dessert was great, but his pan was stained. (And this was someone who cooks a lot.) Which is why I specify in some recipes, most notably those that use citrus juice, certain fruits and vegetables, some brown sugars, or wine, to use “nonreactive” cookware. But I’m often asked – What does “nonreactive” mean?
It means to use cookware made of a material that will not react with acidic ingredients. The most common nonreactive cookware is made with a stainless-steel finish and will not discolor or pit when used with acidic ingredients. You can see from the two saucepans above, the finish on the one on the left (nonreactive stainless-steel) has remained intact and has not pitted, whereas the lining and finish (reactive) in the copper pan has become worn off.