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Looking For A Great Every Day Pot

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zeprosnepsid Oct 8, 2007 11:53 AM

We’ve been using our same non-stick steel pot for ages. But quite a lot of the non-stick has come up over time and we’ve become concerned realizing that probably all that missing non-stick has ended up in our stomachs.

We want to buy a new pot but are trying to decide what would be best for us. We have no dishwasher, so we like the easy clean aspect of non-stick. Something that doesn’t take a ton of care would be great (I have an awesome cast iron skillet that I love but it seems to demand more attention than I have to give on a piece of cookware). We use our pot pretty much every day, often more than once, so we need something to stand up to that kind of use.

We can’t spend a ton on the fanciest pot available, but we’re willing to buy something that’ll last. We had bought a cheap stainless steel (not a non-stick) before but it very quickly got rice burned into it. We spent a lot of time and effort cleaning it back to usefulness, just for it to get all burned up again so we threw it out. So, we'll spend the money if we have to.

Someone mentioned copper cookware, but I don’t know anything about it. And is Calphalon worth the cost? Will it not scratch up like our non-stick?

I guess a smart investment would be to buy some cooking utensils that don’t scrape up the non-stick…

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  1. HaagenDazs Oct 8, 2007 02:58 PM

    You've mentioned a few things: easy clean up, durability, and you say you use it everyday, so versatility is an issue as well?

    I would suggest a clad or sandwiched bottom stainless steel saute pan. The one with straight sides, not curved like an omelette pan. There are invariably going to be some responses here that mention going for a specialized pan of some sort; whether that be anodized, non-stick, etc. Don't listen to them ;-) A solid clad stainless steel pan like Sitram or All-Clad is a great bet. Sitram is cheaper than All-Clad and many say MUCH better than All-Clad. Look for a copper disk sandwiched to the bottom. The Sitram has a completely encased copper disk so you don' have to worry about the copper reacting with detergents in the event you ever get a dishwasher.

    Don't get a Calphalon anodized. It will scratch. Don't get copper, you're going to be spending a bundle.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sitram-Catering...

    4 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs
      m
      missfunkysoul Oct 9, 2007 07:03 AM

      i agree 110% - the clad pan is what you want. easy to clean, conducts heat very well, but doesn't hold it like cast-iron (which is great for some applications, but not so great for others).

      in addition to the all-clad and sitram, calphalon also does a line of stainless-aluminum-stainless pots. i have a set and they are really great - i'd argue that the quality is the same as all-clad, albeit with a much better price.

      just stay away from the straight aluminum calphalon, as the person above suggested... it will look like hell in a year, unless you really baby it.

      1. re: missfunkysoul
        c
        chuckl Oct 11, 2007 09:01 AM

        agree with the previous comments. the most versatile pan i own is an all clad 3.5 quart saute pan. plenty big enough to make sauce and sear meat, and you can put it in your oven to finish. It cleans up pretty easily too.

      2. re: HaagenDazs
        pikawicca Oct 20, 2007 03:34 PM

        I love my Berndes cookware -- it's nonstick, but not coated. It's made by some kind of unique process that makes it incredibly tough. I've had it for about 12 years, and no peeling. It's completely oven/broiler proof and cleans in a blink. I still keep a cast-iron skillet for searing meat, making cornbread, etc., but the Berndes has been the workhorse in my kitchen for a long time.

        1. re: pikawicca
          m
          Mother of four Oct 20, 2007 07:02 PM

          I agree. I have about three Berndes pans ( from TJ Max) which are non stick, and they are great. I do love my stainless though, and the 3.5 guart all clad saute pan is wonderful.

      3. ccbweb Oct 8, 2007 03:14 PM

        What size pot is your current non-stick one?

        1. alanbarnes Oct 8, 2007 05:00 PM

          Copper is a great cooking material, but it's very expensive and requires a lot of maintenance.

          Non-stick has its advantages, including cleanup, but the lining will eventually wear out. IMHO it should be considered disposable cookware.

          Calphalon is pretty good stuff. I own several pieces of their commercial hard-anodized cookware (now discontinued) that get a lot of hard use, and have never had a problem with scratching. IMHO it's not worth the retail price, but Amazon has a few pieces at ridiculous discounts. For example, the 2.5 quart saucepan (MSRP $120) is going for $20 bucks right now. If that's a good size for you, it might be just the ticket.

          http://amazon.com/b/ref=amb_link_1342...

          Another option is good stainless. Make sure it's heavy-gauge steel, and make sure there's an aluminum or copper "sandwich" in the bottom. The main reason things burn in cheap pots is that the heat is not distributed evenly; heavier steel and a layer of more conductive metal will help prevent this.

          Last, but certainly not least, consider enamelled cast iron. Very even heating, the enamel is low-maintenance, and it should last a lifetime. The pots I use more often than any others are Le Creuset round french ovens. Not cheap, but definitely good stuff.

          5 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes
            HaagenDazs Oct 8, 2007 06:01 PM

            I thought of enameled too, but just as a warning to zep, they are quite obviously heavy and can be a burden to wash by hand everyday.

            Calphalon is good, yes, I have some myself, but it's not for very heavy duty use, IMO. It will scratch if you use metal utensils, or if you stack things on top of it. If you use plastic whisks, great... but it's not my thing.

            1. re: HaagenDazs
              alanbarnes Oct 8, 2007 08:08 PM

              Is your Calphalon from the "commercial hard anodized" line or one of the others? I don't chip debris off the bottom with a cold chisel, but I don't baby the stuff, either. Metal spatulas, whisks, spoons, etc. don't cause enough scratching to bother me. They're not the best pans I own, but they're the best $20 pans I own.

              You're absolutely right that enamelled is very heavy. If you have limited upper body strength or joint/muscle problems, or if you are buying a monster-sized pot, the weight has the potential to cause problems. (Had a friend who developed carpal tunnel syndrome and had to give up using hers.) Even if you can carry the stuff around easily, you still don't want to drop it on your foot.

              As to stainless, I'm all in favor. I get mine at the local restaurant supply. Generally much less expensive than comparable quality stuff from a department store. And you know it's made to stand up to heavy use.

              1. re: HaagenDazs
                dinner belle Oct 8, 2007 08:13 PM

                My enameled cast iron Le Creuset is heavy, but it's my favorite and it's so easy to clean.

                1. re: HaagenDazs
                  ccbweb Oct 8, 2007 09:35 PM

                  This is exactly why I asked what size pot the OP is writing about. If it's a 2 or 3 qt. something or other, an enameled cast iron might not be too heavy. If it's a 6 quart pot of some kind, it might well be. If it's actually a skillet of some kind all sorts of different considerations come into play.

                2. re: alanbarnes
                  c
                  Cary Oct 9, 2007 12:39 PM

                  I second the recommendation on the Calphalon Commercial anodized aluminum 2.5 saucepan. It has a bigger cooking surface and is a bit more shallow the normal saucepans, so you can use it for a saute pan, sauce pan, or even a stew, and put it in the oven. And only $20 on amazon. (the "sale" ends today, but every Friday (one day sale) the price on the 2.5 shallow sauce pan drops to $20-25 from the "normal" price of $30.

                3. cayjohan Oct 8, 2007 05:28 PM

                  I've really loved my old RevereWare for even heat and easy cleanup without any coating. There's a recent thread, not specifically about this, but talking a little about the durability of RevereWare. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423601

                  If you don't have an arm and a leg to spend, try eBay for some older Revere. The pots are workhorses of the highest order. Stainless steel, with a copper wrapped bottom. Can't speak for the newer stuff; have heard it's not as good.

                  1. f
                    foodwich Oct 8, 2007 06:13 PM

                    after reading all the comments, i have this to say. if you are buying one pot, enamelled cast iron is the way to go. its heavy but the easy clean up, durability far outweighs the cons. you will probably have it for life compared to non stick which someone mentioned is not very long lasting.heavy stainless is good but i would recommend the cast iron even over that. i have all clad, cast iron and some calphalon for specific tasks. if i had just one pot to buy the cast iron would be the one.

                    1. Hanads Oct 8, 2007 08:08 PM

                      I know someone else mentioned enameled cast iron - I tend to reach for mine everyday. Until recently I only had a few smaller, lighter pots, but now I use my le creuset nearly everyday. I don't like to use nonstick interiors and copper can be more upkeep than they're worth. I do own a few Calphalon pans and I'd say they're worth the price, but if you're looking for a great, durable pot, enameled cast iron would seem ideal. Luckily, everyone is making their own so you can get them at very reasonable prices, though I personally LOVE my le creuset. I've included a few links to give you an idea of cost:

                      http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=256785&CategoryID=29765
                      http://www.target.com/Range-Kleen-Enameled-5-qt-Round/dp/B000Q8QBA4/qid=1191899011/ref=br_1_9/602-7326623-6651058?ie=UTF8&node=13032761&frombrowse=1&index=tgt-mf-mv&field-browse=13032761&rank=pmrank&rh=&page=1
                      http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40128902
                      http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

                      1. m
                        mpalmer6c Oct 8, 2007 11:40 PM

                        It’s hard to to think of a pot that would fit all your criteria. Nothing, for instance, cleans up with the ease of non-stick. But it will certainly will not last a lifetime. One possibillty is inexpensive non-stick that can be replaced every few years without breaking your budget. (Though good, low-priced non-stick frypans are fairly easy to find, this seems to not be true for sauce pans.)

                        Unless you don’t mind lifting heavy weights, avoid cast iron. (Sauté pans are not pots; they have low sides.)

                        A stainless steel-aluminum pot sounds like a good bet. If you follow the package directions on cooking rice, there will be no problem. I suggest you avoid the department stores and gourmet catalogs pushing All-Clad and such. Restaurant supply stores have quality stuff at one-quarter to one-third the price.

                        For instance, look here: .

                        //www.mainesupply.net/catalog.php?actio...

                        1. mimilulu Oct 9, 2007 12:13 PM

                          I have a couple pans which you might consider:

                          All Clad 3 qt saucier.Expensive, but it takes a bashing. Great for everything from cooking oatmeal in the morning to risotto for dinner.

                          I also have a Calphalon Contemporary nonstick saucepan which was a #1 pick on America's Test Kitchen and was quite reasonable. This is what I use now for oatmeal, and any other sticky stuff. I generally use silicone spatulas and wooden spoons on this pan and so far, so good!
                          Here's a link to it on Amazon. Check out the reviews:
                          http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Conte...

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: mimilulu
                            f
                            foodwich Oct 9, 2007 05:20 PM

                            just had to ask, how long have you used the calphalon nonstick for oatmeal ? we wore off the nonstick cooking oatmeal. and if i remember it didnt take that long for it to happen. my DH likes to turn the flame to max. so i went and bought a cheap pan to use for the oatmeal from marshall's. havent tried to make it in the all clad yet. wondering about the stick factor there. please let me know how your pan fares in the oatmeal test.

                            1. re: foodwich
                              mimilulu Oct 10, 2007 12:20 PM

                              Yes, I make oatmeal in the calphalon nonstick quite a bit. I've had the pan for about six months or so. Even at high heats it's fine. As I mentioned, I try to use only silicon spatulas or wooden spoons in it though.

                              1. re: mimilulu
                                f
                                foodwich Oct 10, 2007 05:18 PM

                                thank you, might give it a try when my recent pot dies on me. i too only use silicon and wood. the metal stuff is just for show now since i realized it even scratched up my le creuset pots.

                              2. re: foodwich
                                cayjohan Oct 10, 2007 10:15 PM

                                fw, the best thing to do after cooking oatmeal (in any pan) is to soak the pan in cold water. Residue releases. No scraping necessary. This works for any sort of porridge dish. I sort of surprised that oatmeal is a problem with cookware. I cook oatmeal in an old RevereWare pan, slow heat, not a lot of stirring (re: the wearing-off-of-coating), and a cold soak, and presto! clean as a whistle.

                                1. re: cayjohan
                                  f
                                  foodwich Oct 11, 2007 07:23 AM

                                  believe me, i did not scrape, i did not use metal, the pan i refer to is a farberware millenium non stick. one day i noticed the coating did not look healthy. hence my deduction the oatmeal was to blame. since then wary of pans to cook oatmeal in. maybe the quality of the pan to blame who knows.

                                  1. re: foodwich
                                    Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 08:51 AM

                                    Eh, make the oatmeal in a bowl in the microwave...you kill two birds with one stone that way. Less dishes, and no more oatmeal ruined cookware. :-)

                                    1. re: Farmgirl22
                                      Caroline1 Oct 19, 2007 11:32 AM

                                      Oh, really? When my kids were young (K through 3), the cereal bowls to my china were disappearing. I started with service for 12, then it was 8, then it was 6. The kids swore they didn't know anything about it. One morning I heard the boys cheering in the kitchen. They were making instant oatmeal in the china bowls, then pouring ice cold milk over it an having a contest over whose bowl broke from the shock first. ALL of the oatmeal went in the trash! Yay shreddeed wheat!

                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                        Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 09:53 PM

                                        Huh...made my oatmeal in bowls in the microwave for years, never had one break yet...Hmmmm....I guess, we had corningware when I was growing up...not china?? Maybe that's the difference....We kept our china in the cupboard for "special occaisions" which only came around like once a year.

                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          goodhealthgourmet Oct 20, 2007 10:39 AM

                                          that's why you always keep the good china on a hard-to-reach shelf :)

                                          when i go to my mom's house now, i'm truly amazed that the bowls we used for cereal are still there. i think they're the original corningware everyday stuff, and they're obviously indestructible. my 2 siblings and i beat the living hell out of those things [my 3 young nieces have since taken over the responsibility whenever they visit], and they've survived for at least 30 years. dropped, microwaved, banged with spoons, 1000's of dishwasher runs, you name it.

                                          wish i could say the same for my pots & pans!

                                          which brings me to my initial reason for looking at this thread...

                                          who makes the best cast-iron sauciers & skillets that are NOT monstrously heavy? while i love le creuset, my neck and back can't handle the weight - i cook on the stovetop with pots and pans at least once a day.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                            paulj Oct 20, 2007 03:20 PM

                                            Because iron is a relatively poor heat conductor you want it to be thick and heavy for its size. So about the only option for using iron and reducing its weight is to reduce the size. For example, use an 8" skillet instead of the 10", or a griddle instead of the deep chicken frier.

                                            Carbon steel as used in French crepe/omelet pans and basic woks takes seasoning like cast iron, but is thinner and lighter.

                                            paulj

                                            1. re: paulj
                                              goodhealthgourmet Oct 20, 2007 06:38 PM

                                              thanks paul.

                                              i know cast iron is heavy, it's just that the enameled ones like le creuset seem even heavier to me than the "naked" ones.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                m
                                                MESSCAT Oct 23, 2007 01:23 PM

                                                Le Creuset is actually lighter weight than other makes of cast iron for pieces of the same capacity......

                                                1. re: MESSCAT
                                                  goodhealthgourmet Oct 23, 2007 01:37 PM

                                                  really? looks like i'll have to go out & do some comparison shopping.

                                                  thanks for the tips.

                              3. p
                                peppatty Oct 9, 2007 07:57 PM

                                All-Clad is seriously a workhorse in the kitchen. Not heavy, which makes cleaning a bear, and cooks things very evenly. I have the dutch oven which I use in the oven too. Even used it for the no-knead bread. I fry bacon in it, boil pasta, make stews, soups, and even stir fry.

                                1. Farmgirl22 Oct 9, 2007 08:04 PM

                                  I'm sure that I'll hear about this later, however, I really like the cookware from Pampered Chef. I can give you the name of a laid back consultant who won't nag you if you are interested.

                                  I'm a pretty serious/advanced cook, and while I don't tout everything they have, they cookware is pretty darn awesome! You can choose your pot from Stainless Steel or Hard-Anodized. I like them because you can use them on the stovetop and in the oven--which is a MUST for me...there is even a lifetime guarantee...however, there have been some other very good suggestions as well (I also loved my ancient Revere cookware, but the new stuff isn't so great!)

                                  As to getting stuff "unstuck" from the bottom of the pan, make sure you put some water in the bottom while the pan is still HOT (after you've removed your dinner if it's burnt on stuff)...stir with your spatula, and viola! no more stuck on goo!! Hope that helps!

                                  1. m
                                    masha Oct 10, 2007 09:33 PM

                                    About 3 years ago I started buying individual pots & pans to replace my aging Farberware set from when we first married. I like the anodized Calphalon for sautee pans and skillets. It sounds, however, like you just need a 2-3 quart sauce pan, if you are using it for rice and things like that. I bought the 2 quart Cuisanart stainless steel about 3 years ago at Linens 'n Things for about $20. We use it practically every day, including for rice, and it has held up very well. I would definitely buy it again, if I were making the same decision today.

                                    1. e
                                      EBCraney Oct 12, 2007 08:14 AM

                                      If you want cookware you can't get better than Townecraft. www.townecraft.com

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: EBCraney
                                        HaagenDazs Oct 13, 2007 10:36 AM

                                        So what happens when you try to put something in the oven at 500 degrees or under the broiler with those plastic handles? Doesn't sound so great to me... And I heard the prices are simply stupid expensive.

                                        1. re: EBCraney
                                          ccbweb Oct 13, 2007 11:18 AM

                                          I've never heard of these. The specs don't sound like they'd be any different/better than many of the less expensive sets kicking about out there.

                                          What makes them good?

                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                            alanbarnes Oct 14, 2007 03:51 PM

                                            The extra value comes from the personal touch. "Townecraft products are sold only through in-home demonstration." Can I get you an order of high-pressure sales tactics with that?

                                          2. re: EBCraney
                                            Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 08:56 AM

                                            Hey! I have one of their skillets!! It used to have a poaching tray, but since I didn't get a lid with it (I discovered it at a garage sale) I gave the egg poaching tray away. Thanks for the site though, I'm going to see about ordering a lid to go with my old skillet! :-) It's not the best skillet out there, but it works in a pinch!

                                          3. s
                                            soupkitten Oct 15, 2007 12:49 PM

                                            go to the restaurant supply and get a winco stainless pot or 2. using it just once or twice a day, you'll never be able to wreck it in a lifetime. it's not expensive so you won't worry about it, and it looks nice even after heavy use.

                                            they have nice nonstick skillets as well-- i am not sure if what you are looking for is a "pot" or actually a "pan."

                                            1. Caroline1 Oct 17, 2007 04:27 AM

                                              I do keep a cheap ($10) non-stick frying pan for omlettes, but don't like non-stick for general use. I replace it a couple of times a year on general principles.

                                              I've never used Calphalon, and have no idea whether the aluminum in it interacts with food the way regular aluminum does. Whether it does or not, my choice is to steer clearm of all aluminum. If you want to smell something disgusting, boil an onion in a regular aluminum pot.

                                              If you're young and strong and into daily work outs, Le Creuset (or any cast iron, enamelled or not) is the way to go. If barbells at breakfast aren't your thing, then maybe not.

                                              Stainless steel bonded with a good heat diffuser (aluminum or copper) is very good. I would look for an all metal handle (some stay cool despite being all metal) so there's no problem finishing things in the oven.

                                              And then there's copper. Yup. It's expensive. But it will last your lifetime, and your kids will hand it down to their kids. Maintenace and polishing? Well, my favorite copper polish is Twinkle, but I've also used lemon and salt or tomato ketchup. Some ketchups work better than others. And guess what? Even when its tarnished beyond belief, copper still cooks great. It doesn't care if its shiny or not.

                                              1. b
                                                BelleJo Oct 17, 2007 06:23 AM

                                                My favorite stainless steel pot is All-Clad. Forget the non-stick. It becomes unnecessary if you follow manufacturer's directions and take proper care of the pot. Clean up is a breeze. If something sticks, use a little Bar Keeper's Friend available in many grocery and hardware stores. I have discovered that the better the piece of cookware, the better the performance and that means that things don't stick and burn.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: BelleJo
                                                  Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 08:58 AM

                                                  Not everything is the cookware's fault. :-) But I do agree with the all-clad...definitely better!!

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