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Pans – How to choose the right pans for You.

Pans (Saucepans, Frying Pans, Roasting Pans)

©A Strid – 2011

Pans – How to Choose the Right Pans for You.

Most cookware, but especially Pans, are bought by us to hopefully last a good few years.  The choice is enormous, the types of metals and coatings used are increasing year after year.  How to choose, what to choose is certainly confusing, but I always believe it comes down to a few basic personal facts.

Ask Yourselves These Questions:

  • What sort of budget do you have (more important than ever in these difficult economic times).  Minimum, or can you splash out a bit on better quality pans?
  • Are you just starting to buy pans?  If you are setting up home next year, can you afford to save up for 2 or 3 good pans that could last you many years, or can you only afford to buy the cheapest, which will need replacing in a year or two?
  • How keen a cook are you?  Are you prepared to buy pans that may need seasoning every so often, and need to be handwashed (not put in the dishwasher)?  If you are very busy working, as many modern couples are, will you have the time to look after your cookware properly, or do you just want easy-care pans that go straight in the dishwasher?
  • Will you be cooking casseroles that need a few hours in the oven, or cooking steaks that need a very hot pan?  For both of these, good heavy Cast Iron is perfect.  But beware, it is heavy.
  • It isn’t necessary to buy a whole set of the same pans – most people find that they have 2 or 3 Saucepans with lids, a Frying Pan, a Casserole and a Roasting Dish to begin with, often made of different materials that do the job required of them.
  • It’s a fallacy to think you have to buy saucepans, frying pans, casserole pans all from the same make.  Most experienced domestic cooks realise do a bit of research, and end up with cookware from a variety of companies.

So … Lets Look at the Different Types of Pan and How They Differ:

STAINLESS STEEL

FEATURES:

  • Made from a mixture of Chromium and Nickel.
  • Stainless steel must contain at least 11.5% of Chromium.
  • The Common Ration is 18/8 (Chromium to Nickel).
  • The Superior Ratio for Good Pans is 18/10 (Chromium to Nickel) which gives good cookware durability, rust and stain resistance to help it to stay shiny. When asking about pans, sound knowledgeable by asking ‘Of course, these will be 18/10 Stainless Steel, not 18/8, won’t they?
  • Because Stainless Steel is not the best conductor of heat, the pans usually have a sandwich base of Aluminium or Copper, which spreads the heat evenly and stops the pans from having ‘hot spots’ which can lead to burning.

ADVANTAGES:

  • Hardness and durability.
  • Shiny and easy to clean.
  • Resistant to Rust.
  • generally Dishwasher safe.
  • Not heavy (as opposed to Cast Iron).
  • Suitable for all utensils.
  • Suitable for most hobs (but need to check if individual make is suitable for Induction hobs).
  • Stay cool handles (if both pan and handle is Stainless Steel, this material doesn’t conduct heat to itself, so handle should be cool to touch)
  • No special treatment needed (i.e. Seasoning)
  • Doesn’t need non-stick coating, as long as you don’t use the pan on very high heat.  Generally very easy to clean.
  • Many different shapes, some with strong Design element e.g. Alessi, Eva Trio

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Not totally stainless – if you add salt to cold water, you may get white spots on metal.
  • Poor heat distribution (hence sandwich base)
  • Hot spots on inferior products (i.e. 18/8 Stainless Steel cheap pans).
  • Chalky marks can be caused by Hard Water.

CUSTOMER TIPS:

  • Avoid steel wool on the outside – it will leave scratch marks, but there are good stainless steel cleaners on the market to keep these pans shiny.
  • Easy to clean if you have forgotten the pan and the food has burnt on – half fill with water, bring to the boil and add vinegar.  Let simmer for a few minutes (your house will smell like the local fish and chip shop!) but cool pan and gently scrub inside.  This should remove burnt on food – occasionally you have to do this twice.
  • For the good quality Stainless Steel pan, very high heat is not needed.

SUITABLE FOR:

  • Very busy people (no special treatment, can put in dishwasher).  Takes little work to keep clean and shiny – just a wash in the sink with good washing up liquid, then I rinse mine and dry with a tea-towel.  Perfect again.
  • The Older Generation – Relatively light in weight.
  • Men – no-nonesense technology.
  • Trendy Young people – interested in the Design element of some shapes.

PERSONAL NOTE:

25 years ago (can’t believe it was that long ago), when I had my cookshop, Kitchen Emporium, in Beverley, East Yorkshire, after much deliberation and research, I decided that I wanted to buy Eva Trio Stainless Steel cookware, pans, saute pans, casseroles and stockpot.  These were from Denmark, designed by a remarkable designer, Ole Palsby, who had work in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Of course the pans were of the superior 18/10 Stainless Steel, and these pans have been the mainstay of my kitchen ever since.  I have abused them (not often) but once I put sugar and water in one to make caramel, then disappeared into the garden for half and hour. As I re-entered the kitchen, thick smoke wafted into my face, and the smell was … ughhhh … so I rushed to the pan, the handle still cool, thank goodnness, and put the pan and the black mess into the sink. After cooling for a few minutes, I put some water in the pan, convinced I had wrecked it. But later on, I put it back, tentatively, to simmer and was amazed that the burnt caramel dissolved and I was able to restore my pan back to perfect.  A lesson learnt!  But 25 years on, a quick dip in the sink, a polish with a tea-towel, and I could put them back on sale as good as new!  And I am not a fussy housewife, I just like practical, well designed cookware that doesn’t need hours spending on it.

My choice of pans then was Eva Trio Stainless Steel Cookware – although not one of our Merchants, it would be selfish of me not to tell you that they are still available from the David Mellor shop.  (They probably cost a bit more now!!)  If I was to add to them, I would be inclined to buy the Le Creuset Stainless Steel range, (John Lewis) not the cheapest but it looks as if it will last almost as long as my Eva Trio.  But I am researching all types at the moment, and will add my choices as I find them.

ALWAYS REMEMBER – NO PAN, WHATEVER THE MATERIAL, IS INDESTRUCTIBLE.  IMPROPER USE CAN DAMAGE ANY PAN, SO LOOK AFTER THEM PROPERLY AND THEY SHOULD LAST YEARS.

Pans – How to Choose the Right Pans for You:  I hope I have helped you on your quest for Pans so far.

More types of Cookware and Pans to come soon.


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