The word 'encapsulated' means a component is encased or enveloped by another covering. In relation to cookware, a layer or disc of aluminum may be encapsulated in another material, such as stainless steel or copper. That is, the aluminum core is sandwiched in between other layers of steel.
Cookware that is three-ply or multi-ply will often have an aluminum layer encapsulated in the middle, with an easy to clean interior cooking finish and a more durable exterior layer. The reason for the aluminum core is to improve cooking performance.
There are a few reasons why some consider an encapsulated base to be an essential cookware feature. This applies to pots and pans, as well as skillets, woks or frypans. Cooking implements with an encapsulated base will:
- Have enhanced cooking performance
- Have less hot spots especially when cooking pasta and delicate sauces
- Have a better and more even heat distribution
- Have improved heat retention
At one time, you had to pay a lot more for cooking pots and frypans with an encapsulated base, but today, this excellent cookware construction is highly affordable, with some sets of pots and pans selling for less than $100. Note that this type of base is not the only cookware feature that can affect the end pricing.
Cookware that is referred to as being all clad including those specifically manufactured by All-Clad, are designed with this encapsulated layer of aluminum, not only in the base of the cookware but extending all the way up the sides. The result is excellent heat retention and distribution.
You will, however, pay a lot more for cooking implements with multi-clad layers on the bottom, as well as up the sides. Once you've cooked sauces and stews in these, you won't want to go back to anything less. The multi-layers encasing an aluminum core really do matter.
If this is the kind of cookware you'd like to own, look for the term encapsulated in the cookware specifications. Note that sometimes that word is not included in the title, so a review of all features is required to understand what is included in a product.
The pot featured is the Excelsteel 4-Pc Multi-Cookware Set. Not only does this practical 12-quart size cookware has an aluminum core, but it's also durable gleaming 18/10 stainless steel. This is an extremely nice all-purpose cookware set at a very reasonable price.
While single layer (one play) large pots can be very convenient for boiling corn on the cob or pasta noodles, when it comes to other cooking such as soups, stews, chili, and roasting meats, cookware layers do matter. The more delicate the food is; the better the results if the cookware is multi-layered.
If buying a complete cookware set is not in your budget, consider growing your set, one pot at a time. Most cookware sets are available by the stock piece. There usually is some savings to be had by buying a set. Note that if buying cookware for an induction stovetop or cooktop, the base should also be magnetic to be able to cook on an induction stove.