Metal Serving Ware Buying Guide
Metal serving ware is all the rage these days partly due to the cost of silver, the constant maintenance of silver and that most silver serving pieces out there are too formal for today's lifestyles. Throughout the past 10-20 years, more and more brides are omitting formal china and silver from their registries and more and more households are buying contemporary, practical and lower maintenance dinnerware and serving ware. While there still is a more formal dining market out there, most people are looking for low maintenance, versatile and usable metal-ware. We recommend that you buy any metal serving ware from sellers in the United States. Buying outside the US increases the chance of lead being present in the metal.
Metal ware is popular because it is very low maintenance when compared with silver. Silver must be polished often to preserve its looks. Foods, fingerprints, humidity, sulfur content in the air and a number of other variables will cause silver to tarnish. Today's aluminum, stainless steel and pewter metal ware is virtually maintenance free, with stainless steel serving ware being the most maintenance free. In this guide to metal ware we will discuss aluminum serving ware, pewter serving ware and stainless steel serving ware.
Aluminum Serving Ware -
Aluminum serving ware is made of an aluminum alloy. Each manufacturer has its own recipe for aluminum that they like and that they feel gives them an edge over the competition. Some recipes for aluminum alloys these makers use contain over 10 different metals in them, but the main metal used to make the metal ware is aluminum, regardless of the manufacturer. Why Aluminum? Well, aluminum is widely available and cheap, it is durable, it can be heated and it can be chilled; aluminum is a pretty versatile metal. Aluminum alloys can also be polished to a mirror finish, which looks great on the table--especially with contemporary designs and shapes.
Probably the most important aspect to consumers is that aluminum is essentially maintenance free. While acidic foods have the ability to dull the finish of aluminum, a quick wipe down with vegetable oil prior to placing acidic foods into the aluminum vessel will create a barrier to mitigate this. All aluminum serveware must be hand washed in a mild liquid soap and warm water and dried by hand immediately. As long as aluminum is cared for in this way it will last a lifetime. If spotting occurs with aluminum, there are various polishes and home remedies to buff out the offensive area.
Aluminum serving pieces can be pre-heated in the oven or pre-chilled in the freezer or refrigerator to keep hot foods hot or cold foods cold. Some aluminum serving ware and grill ware from maker Wilton Armetale can even be used as a cooking vessel, withstanding heat up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Most metal serving ware today is made of aluminum, but there are alternatives like pewter and stainless steel.
Aluminum Serving ware players: Beatriz Ball, Wilton Armetale, Arthur Court. All are lead-free.
Pewter Serving Ware and Dinnerware -
Pewter, in our opinion is the classiest and most beautiful metal serving ware and manufacturers of pewter tend to create serving pieces that are geared more toward the formal side of serving ware. Pewter alloys, like aluminum, involve a mixture of metals. The chief metal is tin. Pewter is not considered "pewter" unless it contains at least 92% tin in its alloy recipe. Tin is now considered a precious metal and prices for pewter are on the luxury side of the scale. Match Pewter, a company that imports handmade Italian pewter, promises no less than 95% of the highest quality tin in their pewter alloy. The rule of thumb with pewter is this: the higher amount of tin in the pewter, the higher quality the pewter. The luster and color of pewter is unmatched. Pewter plates, bowls, platters and trays are generally hand made and will be marked with pewter hallmarks, or stamps, pressed into the pewter.
Pewter tarnishes very slowly and, like aluminum, requires virtually no maintenance. However, if tarnishing does occur, it can be easily polished away with a pewter-safe metal polish or by using "0000" steel wool by rubbing in a small circular pattern. Pewter is not dishwasher safe. It must be washed by hand with warm water and a mild liquid dish washing soap. Dry your pewter by hand after serving food and towel dry. Pewter has a low melting point and should never be placed in the oven, exposed to flame or placed in the microwave. Acidic foods must be removed immediately after service and the pewter piece should washed and dried.
Stainless Steel Serving Ware -
Stainless steel serving ware has advantages over all other metal alloys. Stainless steel is an alloy and is made of iron (steel) chromium and nickel. It is durable, dishwasher safe, requires no polishing and has a lifespan of about 100 years. Makers like Mary Jurek Designs uses 18/8 stainless steel, which is 18% chromium and 8% nickel (18/8). The chromium gives stainless steel its "stainless" property by making it corrosion resistant. Chromium creates a barrier or "film" on the steel that is self healing as long as it is in contact with oxygen.
Generally, stainless steel platters, bowls, trays and plates may be warmed in the oven up to 250 degrees, but they are not made for cooking food. They are serving vessels. They may be pre-chilled prior to service. Stainless steel is one of the most food safe materials around. It is used in sterile workplaces like hospitals and restaurants for its sterile properties. Stainless steel will not react with acidic foods.
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