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How the heck do I choose new pots and pans??

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I've been learning to cook for about 5 years now. I've been using a mish mash of hand me down pots and pans. They suited my needs very well as a beginning cook but now that my skills have grown, this set is no longer suitable. I also have a bit more money now to invest in a proper, good quality new set.

I've been looking at flyers and browsing the selection at various stores (e.g. IKEA, HomeSense, Home Outfitters, and department stores like The Bay) but I'm finding it so overwhelming! There are TOO many choices! I have no clue how to narrow down my choices.

Here's some additional info:

- I already have several good pieces that I don't need to purchase: a dutch oven, a cast iron frying pan, a cast iron wok, and a large stock pot. What I'm looking to replace are the little "workhorse" pots and pans for blanching vegetables, cooking dry noodles, making sauces, etc.

- I'm eco-conscious (environmental and health reasons) so I do not own or want to purchase anything with a non-stick coating.

- I need a good variety of sizes of pots and pans.

- I'm ready to move up from my "university student" quality pots and pans but cannot afford Le Creuset-kind of quality.

Any advice??

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  1. LavendarPeony: "Any advice??"

    The main criteria are evenness of distribution of heat and ease of cleaning.

    As to evenness of distribution of heat, you want a highly conductive layer; you want the highly conductive layer to be appropriately thick; and you want the expensive materials where they will do the most good.

    Taking those one at a time, silver is more conductive than copper; copper is more conductive than aluminum; aluminum is more conductive than steel; steel is more conductive than cast iron; cast iron is more conductive than stainless steel; and stainless steel is more conductive than glass. Enamel is a form of glass. The thicker a layer of highly conductive material, the more effective; put conversely, a thinner layer of copper will serve as well as a thicker layer of aluminum.

    For cooking nonviscous liquids, soups, and stews, where a good convection current can be induced in the contents of the pot, a pot with conductive sidewalls is wasteful and counterproductive. Most clad pots (pots with a conductive layer, usually aluminum, sandwiched between low maintenance layers, usually stainless) have a thin and puny center conductive layer that is not terribly effective in conducting heat up from the energy source, and a lot of the heat that _is_ conducted up the sides ends up going out into the room instead of inward to the contents of the pot. Meanwhile, the conductive layer in the sides facilitates the heat that is convected upward by the currents within the vessel to be conducted out through the pot walls, again to the room and away from the contents of the pot. You are much better off with a disk bottom saucepan with a thick disk and plain vertical stainless sidewalls than you are with a clad pot that is thinner at the bottom, where a thicker profile would be more functional, and the clad sidewalls waste the more expensive conductive materials.

    For frypans and saute pans, the reverse is true. There, it is useful to have zones of varying temperatures within the pot, so that you the cook can move the contents being cooked toward or away from the hottest zone to speed up cooking of some parts while keeping other parts from scorching. For that kind of pot, then, clad construction generally is indicated.

    As for clean-up, why not have pans that can be washed in the dishwasher? Many pans, including most anodized aluminum pans, cannot be thrown into a dishwasher. For that matter, why not have pans that occasionally can be used in the oven? Many pans, especially those with plastic or wooden handles, cannot.

    Finally, take into account that sooner or later, you will have an induction cooktop or range. Induction is the wave of the future; resistive electric and gas are the remnants of the past. Induction is faster and more powerful than gas, and can be more finely tuned than gas, and induction will overtake gas just as a hundred years ago electric lighting overtook gas lighting. But not all pots and pans are induction compatible. For any given size or type of pot (except a wok), you can find an induction-compatible pot that is just as high quality as a noninduction pot of the same size and type -- and the prices are likely to be comparable. So now, when it may be a matter of indifference for immediate use whether a pot is or is not induction compatible, the induction compatible pot is the better investment. That way, you can continue to use it when you convert to induction in the future.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Politeness

      Politeness: "You are much better off with a disk bottom saucepan with a thick disk and plain vertical stainless sidewalls than you are with a clad pot that is thinner at the bottom, where a thicker profile would be more functional, and the clad sidewalls waste the more expensive conductive materials."

      Any specific saucepan recommendations?

      1. re: Jay F

        Jay F: "Any specific saucepan recommendations?"

        The Demeyere Apollo line is a good benchmark with which to compare saucepans. Demeyere has gone to a good deal of trouble to assess how each kind of pot or pan is likely to be used, and to optimize the utensil to that purpose. Sitram also makes excellent saucepans, at a lower price point (usually) than Demeyere.

        There are two levels of Berndes cookware, both designed in Germany, but only the higher end lines are made in Germany; the lower priced lines are made in the PRC, and often avalable at places like Tuesday Morning. If you are not concerned about Chinese made products, the Berndes cookware is worth a review.

        And the Chantal Copper Fusion line is always worth looking into.

        Hope these pointer help.

        1. re: Politeness

          Thanks, Politeness.

          1. re: Politeness

            Agreed on the Demeyer Apollo benchmark. Use those specs to decide whether a pan should be clad or disk-bottomed. Great stuff, and it will last a lifetime.

            However, I think the prices, at least for us in the US, and pretty high right now, even for Apollo versus Atlantis, which is their more expensive line. Some pans are more expensive than LeCreuset.

        2. re: Politeness

          Politeness: Thanks for the detailed, very informative advice! Wow... I have heard about cladding, conductivity, etc. but it looks like I've got a lot to learn! I really like the suggestion to go for induction-compatible cookware. This set that I am getting, I plan to be able to keep them for many, many years so I'd really like them to last. I also really appreciate items that are very versatile so I'll narrow my choices yet again to pieces that can be popped into the oven. My dishwashers never clean pots and pans well so that's not something I need to look for.
          You've given me lots of great info to take into the stores with me now. Thanks so very much!

          1. re: LavenderPeony

            LavenderPeony, for frypans, in addition to the promotionally priced (about $61 for the 8" size) Chantal Fusion starter frypan, you might also look into the very reasonably priced Matfer Bourgeat "black steel" pans. In many ways similar to cast iron in the way they perform, the Matfer Bourgeats are lighter in weight and a bit faster responding than cast iron. There are several threads on this board about the deBuyer steel pans; the Matfer Bourgeat are similar, but a bit heavier gauge and higher quality, but still affordable.

          2. re: Politeness

            As usual, excellent advice. I actually have an induction-capable wok but I mostly use a large cast iron skillet for stirfry these days. And I think anyone who doesn't go induction-compatible may someday be having to replace what they have. While it's still growing in ownership here in the US, I don't think we're far away from it being the standard. So landlords and developers of housing projects, etc. I believe are going to start installing it. I recently saw it at IKEA.

            I also think a restaurant supply store will give you high quality options for a fraction of the cost of All Clad etc. I just bought a 20 qt. stockpot for $60 at one that's induction-ready. The non-induction equivalent from All Clad was something like $300 or $400. I can do that math all day long.

            1. re: c oliver

              When I shopped for my stock pot, I did like the supply stores' prices too! Ultimately I went with a $30 one at Costco.

              I think I'll start browsing the supply stores again for this set I'd like to buy... thanks for reminding me!

              1. re: LavenderPeony

                You will never find a 20qt stockpot at Costco :) Which I love btw.

                I'd also encourage you to not buy sets.

          3. If you're looking for a good quality budget friendly set I'd look at tramontina at Walmart. It's been compared favorably to All Clad.

            23 Replies
            1. re: olympia

              So the brands mentioned so far are Tramontina, All Clad, Chantal, Calphalon and Cuisinart. Any other good brands?

              1. re: LavenderPeony

                Le Creuset, but you said you weren't interested.

                I have probably used my 4.5 and 5.5 qt round French ovens from Le Creuset more than anything else I've owned, for making Bolognese, other sauces, chili, stews, braising, etc. I'd say it's my favorite brand. It's what I started out with 30 years ago, and I like it enough to keep buying it. I got a lot of new stuff last year at Le Creuset outlet stores that would have cost a lot more at regular retailers, on- or offline.

                http://lcstores.com/.

                1. re: Jay F

                  I am thoroughly convinced that I would love to cook with LC but it's just waaaay out of my price range right now! Being a greenie, you can't beat being able to get decades of use out of a product... so, I will just have to covet LC from afar until I can afford one of my own!

                  1. re: LavenderPeony

                    "I am thoroughly convinced that I would love to cook with LC"

                    That depends on how much you like colors.

                    :P

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Oh, yeah.

                      http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookwar...

                      1. re: Jay F

                        I swear LC retires some colors because there is no way there are only 10-15 colors. There must have been closed to 30-50 colors throughout the history of LC. For one, I remember there was a "silver" color

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          "I swear LC retires some colors"

                          Yes, they do. This is not news. As far as I know, Flame is the only "always" color, and maybe Cobalt and Cherry. Someone here once posted a list of dates for different colors.

                          I found lots of stuff in Indigo at the outlet stores last year. This month, they're having a sale on Citron. I have some things in Jade. All retired colors.

                          I'm glad they have a lot of colors. When I bought my first set, I chose Flame. My alternatives were Yellow and Brown. In 1979, I was not buying LC for the colors, trust me.

                    2. re: LavenderPeony

                      I have an amazing collection of Le Creuset; probably ten skillets, six French ovens, and a bunch of other odds and ends. I think the most I paid for one piece was $50 (the gigantic 15qt monster).

                      Shop your local thrift stores with some dedication. I live in ruralish Minnesota, and I see one or two pieces every month or two at the Goodwill here. Re-using is also pretty green. :) Good luck.

                      1. re: LavenderPeony

                        I'm a huge LC fan and if you check out their stainless fry pans you would probably be surprised at some of the prices. I have an outlet nearby so I've done quite well. If it's truly out of your range, then just pick up one pan that you think would get the most use and add as you go along. For nonstick, you may want to check out the Greenpan at Crate and Barrell. It's touted as environmentally friendly and I bought one that I"ve been pretty happy with,

                    3. re: LavenderPeony

                      There are lots of great brands out there - for copper I'd recommend Bourgeat and Falk, SS All Clad gets good marks as does Demeyer, carbon steel - de Buyer, cast iron Lodge as well as vintage Griswold and Wagner (of certain dates), enameled cast iron Le Creuset and Staub. Some folks also really like Emile Henry for the flame line.

                      There are always great deals out there - either seconds from All Clad, outlets for Le Creuset as well as the Williams-Sonoma outlets. Also, ebay can be great for deals esp if you're open to used pieces. Craigslist sometimes has some gems too.

                      1. re: LavenderPeony

                        Go with Tramontina! They were chosen by America's Test Kitchen (the Consumer Reports of all things food) to be the best pans. They cooked better than All-Clad and are only a fraction of the price. They have many different pieces that you can buy "a la carte" or have sets. But definitely go with Tramontina! I've been a professional chef for 12 years and they're the pans that I have at home.

                        1. re: agreen10

                          Where and when did America's Test Kitchen say Tramontina makes "the best pans," or that they "cooked better than All-Clad"?

                          1. re: Jay F

                            I don't remember which issue but it was in one of the Cooks Illustrated mags within the last 2 years.

                            1. re: agreen10

                              I feel like trying a piece or two of Tramontina. I have a few All Clad pieces, but I didn't really fall in love with them. I don't need a whole set, though.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Jay, have you tried the D5? I really like the features esp the handle and rolled rims. The updates to the line should add these features to everything.

                                The Tramontina does look interesting though. Definitely a great price point!

                                1. re: olympia

                                  Hi, Olympia. No, I haven't tried the D5.

                                  The specific thing I'm looking for today, and what has me scouring the cookware threads, is a small frypan for heating up seeds and spices for Indian cooking. My small frypan is non-stick, and I guess I'm either paranoid or sensible about dry cooking on non-stick.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Well, for the tiny pans I think the old handle isn't too bad. I just saw Ina Garten doing this yesterday with a tiny All Clad skillet and it kind of made me want one! With all the stores clearancing out the old line it could be a great time to buy.

                                    1. re: olympia

                                      I don't have a problem with the All-Clad handles. And there are two stores in town here having sales. Thanks, Olympia.

                                      1. re: Jay F

                                        Be sure to check Amazon and the department stores - I've got a feeling you could get a great deal with a coupon, etc. You can also call the WS outlets but you loose about half your savings in shipping.

                                        1. re: olympia

                                          Yeah. I guess I'll go downtown and check it out. Thanks again.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            Good luck, pick me up a butter warmer while you're at it ;)

                                2. re: Jay F

                                  Hi Jay. I picked up a small Tramontina saucepan to replace a pan I ruined. I am quite favorably impressed with the Tramontina. I found the pan at Tuesday Morning, but I understand their prices weren't all that reduced. Nevertheless, the pan is quite good. If I ever have induction, that pan is fine. It is balanced, the right weight for its size, and it heats fast. If I was buying new stuff, I'd buy this line for saucepans.

                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    That's good to know, Sue. Thanks. I have a Tuesday Morning in my neighborhood, too.

                      2. Not overly popular on this board, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Chantal enamel on steel. It i a little thin, so it heats a little faster than some like, and when you drop hot food into it, the temp drops (I get around this by cooking in batches), but...it cleans up like a champ, the sizes are perfect, and the surfaces are all easy on the eyes - I can always tell how done a dish is.

                        You mentioend having a cast-iron wok. I am not sure how much I would use one. I think of cast iron as heavy and used for slow cooking. I use a thin, carbon steel one. Heats up quicky and has that nice "hot spot" in the dead center. These are cheap as chips and great. Get a high domed lidded on. Adds to the versatility.
                        I do not have any experience with the new eco-green non-stick pots and pans, but I hear mixed reviews.

                        Matt

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Westy

                          "You mentioend having a cast-iron wok. I am not sure how much I would use one"

                          Westy,

                          There are the Westernized thick cast iron woks like the Lodge one:

                          http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Pro-Logic...

                          and there are Chinese version of thinner cast iron woks like this:

                          http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

                          1. re: Westy

                            "You mentioend having a cast-iron wok. I am not sure how much I would use one." Being Chinese, I just grew up learning to cook pretty much anything in a wok. In fact, I especially love to use it to brown my meats for braises... it contains the grease splatters quite nicely! It'sbeen nicely seasoned so it's a really great non-stick surface for cooking on. Also handles larger batches of food better than my other pots and pans.

                            Mine looks very similar to the 2nd one Chemical Kinetics showed.

                            1. re: LavenderPeony

                              I can see the value in braising and all, but I would think that other pans are better suited to that task. I have used my wok for a lot: stir-frying, steaming (make a lattice using chopsticks to hold a bowl over the liquid and put a lid over it), quick soups... I just don't think I have ever seen a wok made of heavy cast iron. I associate that material with heavier skillets. Thanks for the insight.

                          2. "blanching vegetables, cooking dry noodles, making sauces...."

                            Blanching vegetables or cooking dry noodles do not make high demand of cookware. For making delicate sauces, a lot of people like copper cookware due to the high conductivity as Politeness has mentioned. Copper can be ery expensive, so aluminum-based cookware are great alternative. For cladded cookware, All Clad is probably the most famous brand (not necessary the best per se). I think olympia is correct. Tramontina cladded cookwares enjoy a very good reputation as being "good value". Inexpensive yet functional. Other cladded cookwares to look for are Calphalon and Cuisinart.

                            1. Just had more thoughts:

                              The pots of mine that bug me the most are the ones with the glass lids. When liquids come to a boil (even a low, slow boil), the condensation runs down then sputters out from under the lid, making a huge mess.

                              I also find it such a pain how the handles on these glass lids constantly wiggle loose, and the rubber gasket between the screw and glass get yellow and funky. YUCK!

                              I love how I can see through the glass, however, to monitor what's cooking.

                              Do all glass lids do this, or it just my cheap set?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LavenderPeony

                                I have several saucepans that have glass lids and love them. The "sputtering" will be limited it you "tighten" the lid. Just 'screw' it down.

                                1. re: LavenderPeony

                                  IME, a good glass lid has a springy stainless steel disk rather than a rubber gasket to hold the knob on, is provided with a vent hole to allow steam to escape, and has a well designed stainless steel rim with an internal lip so that condensation drips back into the pot.

                                  I must confess that I have something of a glass lid fetish, and have even managed to find good ones for my small collection of Le Creuset pieces.

                                2. Also, just for general advice - use the search function and/or read the threads recommended at the bottom of this post. These kinds of questions get asked frequently and there's tons of good advice on here. Egullet as also a great place to learn more about cookware as is Cooks Illustrated. I'd recommend the free trial to look up reviews of the pieces you're considering.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: olympia

                                    More good advice, o. I think we all tend to forget those threads down at the bottom :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      It is really hard to separate me from my money so I always try to read everything before I purchase. You can tell I've been researching hard by all my recent purchases :)

                                      I think the hardest pieces of advice for me to heed when I started this journey was to think of what I wanted to make. I felt like I needed to fulfill some checklist of must haves. I actually set out to do this and purchase all of the Cooks Illustrated essentials list. Later I realized that I didn't care for some of the pieces and now I'm going to liquidate them. Eh, live and learn. I think the best thing is to move slowly and purchase a piece or two at a time.

                                      Finally, I've found Alton Brown's book on kitchen gear to be a fun read.

                                  2. Taking into account what you already have and where you are looking ( Canada) I'd say you can't do better than Tramontina. Walmart in Canada does NOT carry it. But the good news is you can still get it. I've accumulated several pieces already. For the price, I'd say you cannot beat Tramontina tri ply at Walmart.

                                    1. Hi, LavenderPeony:

                                      You have gotten some good advice already--along with a little bad.

                                      I recommend you start by identifying what your positive and negative priorities are. For instance, how important are the following to you:

                                      (1) Price;
                                      (2) Performance;
                                      (3) Ease of cleaning, e.g., the dishwasher;
                                      (4) Standing up to abuse;
                                      (5) Weight;
                                      (6) Non-culinary features, e.g., aesthetics and/or brand name.

                                      You need to prioritize because there are always compromises and tradeoffs. The very best performing cookware will be (with a few exceptions, depending on application) expensive. Yet the best of the best will not be dishwashable and not as durable as most SS and SS-clad. If you *must* put your cookware in a DW or on an induction stove--or use metal utensils, then you cannot have the best, but you may still find some good-to-excellent choices.

                                      As others have advised for what you have remaining to replace, pans with a good thickness of highly conductive metal in them will improve your cooking. Unfortunately, few makes/models of clad (e.g. generally, SS bonded to a copper or aluminum core, inside and out) have enough thickness in the conductive metal(s) to make them really good. Generally, pans that are copper or all aluminum are far more conductive than equally-thick clad pans. Sort of in-between are the disc-bottom pans, where a thicker disc of conductive metal (usually aluminum for lightness) is bonded to just the bottom of the pan.

                                      I disagree that conductive metal up the sides of a pan are a waste or counterproductive. Yes, some heat energy flows outward into the room, but a lot of it flows the other way into the food; depending on your hob, this can make the difference between making or keeping a vigorous boil or not. And pans with conductive sidewalls heat the contents faster and more evenly.

                                      The rub is that most clad with conductive sidewalls is made so thin that it IS wasteful and counterproductive. So, if your choice is between expensive full-clad and inexpensive straight-gauge aluminum, and your musts, don't include the DW or metal utensils, the former usually isn't a great choice.

                                      I urge you to recognize that SS exists in cookware only for conveniences unrelated to cooking. It looks good and is durable, and that is pretty much the whole story. It is a terrible metal for conducting or holding heat. But it is shiny, tough and cheap. That's why it is so ubiquitous.

                                      As for induction-compatibility, that is a Grand Mal" tradeoff. If you *must* have induction, then that rules out (with an exception that negates one of the claimed advantages of induction) the best cookware, IMO. Reasonable futurists can and do differ over whether induction will ever put other hobs out of existence; personally I'd liken it more to the microwave than the internal combustion engine. IMO limiting yourself in 2011 to cookware that will work on induction is a reason to decline today's induction to start with. Moreover the truth is that most US consumers buy multiple sets of pots and pans over their cooking lives anyway. So even IF, when you're 180 years old and all that's available is induction, you want whatever they've come up with to equal copper or aluminum in the meantime, you can enjoy shopping again.

                                      If you want to rank your priorities (hopefully with percentage numbers), I'd be happy to make specific recommendations to you.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Oh my goodness I am always so grateful for how generous Chowhounders are with sharing advice and experience. I apologize, olympia: I sheepishly admit that I didn't search very hard to find existing threads on the topic. I've got 3 young children and work full time so must admit that I try to take shortcuts when I must do research online! I appreciate everyone's patience and willingness to share with me despite my laziness!

                                        As I always do when I post on Chowhound, I have taken copious notes to study before my next shopping trip!

                                        Kaleokahu: That's very kind of you! Here's my rankings but with notes rather than percentages... I tried to do some numbers but it just didn't come out evenly!:

                                        1. Performance
                                        - I am tired of having hot spots at the bottom of my pots, causing sauces and soups to burn
                                        - I really value features that make the piece easier to use (e.g. quality glass lids, rolled lip, comfortable handle)
                                        - Versatility's important - really want pots that will go from stove to oven
                                        - I don't think I'll ever get an induction stove because I love my wok too much.

                                        2. Price
                                        - The budget that I feel comfortable with is $300 tops for a complete "set", meaning a nice varied group of pots of different sizes and purposes

                                        3. Standing up to abuse
                                        - Yes, very important! When I burn food on the bottom, I appreciate if I can take a metal scouring pad to get the job done quicker!

                                        4. Non-culinary features, e.g., aesthetics and/or brand name
                                        - Not very important if the above needs are met. But, would like to know that the brand I buy has a good track record.

                                        5. Ease of cleaning, e.g., the dishwasher
                                        - Never put any of mypots into the d/w... always handwashed

                                        6. Weight
                                        - Nice to have lighter weight but definitely not a dealbreaker if on the heavier side. (But, of course, don't want them to be cast-iron-pan-heavy!)

                                        1. re: LavenderPeony

                                          Ah, well, the other threads are helpful but nothing really beats getting live responses to your questions!
                                          With your budget in mind I'd look into the Tramontina - can take abuse. is a great price and performs well. The top two sets look good:
                                          http://www.walmart.com/search/search-...

                                          1. re: LavenderPeony

                                            Hi, LavenderPeony:

                                            Based on your answers, if you are looking to buy new, I think you might be most happy with commercial/restaurant grade aluminum. Hard anodized is nice, but that surface will wear off eventually, and may put a set past your budget. The thicker the better, 4mm minimum, thicker bases even better. You're probably going to want some silicone handle sleeves, e.g., Koolhandle I, but these are about $5. I would shop your local restaurant supply houses and on line. Vollrath is a good brand to judge others against.

                                            Since you have gas, warpage will not likely be a problem, like aluminum can be on a smooth topped range.

                                            But do you need new, and do you need a matching set? CH abounds with stories of folks picking up VERY expensive individual pieces at clearance outlets, eBay, Craigslist, rummage sales, etc. Your $300 will go a lot further if you're patient and willing to scrounge a bit.

                                            Good luck!

                                            Kaleo

                                            1. re: LavenderPeony

                                              Hi LavenderPeony,

                                              Please also consider what type of dishes you are cooking.

                                              I have various brands in my kitchen. I have gas range and no dishwasher.

                                              LeCreuset pot. Sturdy, easy handwash. Cooks beautifully. I bought mine at Home Sense at least 50% off from Home Outfitters / The Bay prices. It's good for slow cooking and doesn't burn coconut milk base sauces.

                                              Frying pan - All Clad. 8" (small) works well for toasting nuts (very low heat). 12" with lid is good for stir-fry or other frying. I'm disappointed with how uncomfortable the handle is for this size of pan - with food in it. Personally I feel the 12" was not well made as the 8". Cooks Illustrated claimed easy clean. I found I have to use Barkeepers Friend all the time - strong chemical I'm inhaling which I don't like. The 8" does clean easily. The 12" is made in US but the lid is made in China and it doesn't fit snug.

                                              One sauce pan - (Canadian) Paderno. It's supposed to be stainless steel but a dozen use or so the SS colour turned yellowish. I retired this pan.

                                              Stockpot, sauce pan, pressure cooker - WMF. They are SS, durable. Transfer heat beautifully, never required high heat, medium is sufficient. The newer models are made for electric, gas and induction. They are more expensive. I consider WMF (and LeCreuset) an investment and I will pass on to my children. In the meantime I enjoy cooking with them and dishes turn out well. Website is in German though. www.wmf.de
                                              My pressure cooker is 27 years old and still performs well.

                                              Non-stick fry pan. I had Calphalon - heavy. However, non-stick is not supposed to be used with high heat. So I retired them. I switched to WMF Ceradur. Outer part is SS look (of course there's aluminum inside for good heat transfer). The non-stick coating is ceramic. Again this pan needs low/medium heat only and not toxic like teflon.

                                              Copper pot/pan - I found too hot for Asian/Indian dishes and avoided them completely.

                                              Good luck.

                                              Knusprig

                                              1. re: knusprig

                                                The active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is Oxalic acid -- named after the genus of plants that are known for having it -- Oxalis (or is it the other way around?), it is what gives sorrel and rhubarb their distinctive "bite" (and it also found in most other members of this family which include spinach and arugula). Yes it's toxic to humans in large amounts, but you're probably not inhaling too much of this "strong chemical".

                                                1. re: mateo21

                                                  Hi Mateo21 - appreciate your info.
                                                  I have used baking soda to remove burnt on the Paderno stainless steel pot. All Clad care instruction said not to use baking soda. Any thought about why? Or perhaps Chemicalkinetics can explain.
                                                  Thanks

                                                  Knusprig

                                                  Knusprig

                                                  1. re: knusprig

                                                    Baking soda and Bar Keeper Friend tend to remove different kind of stains. Whereas Bar Keeper Friend is more effectively in removing oxidized stains and rust stains, baking soda is more effective in removing grease stains and food burned marks. Oven cleaners also work for aggressive removal. As for All Clad care instruction for not using baking soda, that is a bit surprising for me because baking soda is very mild when all things considered. The only thing I can think of is that some people may lightly scratch the stainless steel with undissolved baking soda, but that is true for so many other things as well.

                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                              kaleokahu: "I disagree that conductive metal up the sides of a pan are a waste or counterproductive. Yes, some heat energy flows outward into the room, but a lot of it flows the other way into the food; depending on your hob, this can make the difference between making or keeping a vigorous boil or not. And pans with conductive sidewalls heat the contents faster and more evenly."

                                              Disagreement on many topics is not only acceptable, but welcomed. But disagreement on the laws of physics is not a voting issue. Within a conductor, heat always flows from the area of higher temperature to the area of lower temperature, and not from the area of low temperature to the area of high temperature.

                                              When the contents of a pot or pan is a non viscous liquid, the fastest and most efficient means to transport heat from the bottom of the pot to the top of the pot is through convection currents within the liquid itself; convection of the liquid is much faster and much more efficient than applying heat externally from the sides of the vessel, and has the added benefit of naturally mixing the ingredients within the pot.

                                              The entire concept and purpose of cooking is to raise the temperature of the food above the ambient temperature of its surroundings. As soon as one starts to cook the food inside a pot, then, if the sides of the pot are capable of conducting heat, heat will flow from the hotter zone (the food) to the cooler zone (the room air). The more efficient the sides of the pot are to conduct heat, the more efficient is the transfer of heat away from the food and into the room. That is elementary physics, not conjecture, simply a matter of the manner by which molecules pass off energy to adjacent molecules.

                                              "The rub is that most clad with conductive sidewalls is made so thin that it IS wasteful and counterproductive."

                                              Yes. In a clad construction, energy applied to the bottom of the pot is stolen from the bottom -- where it most directly conducts heat to the coldest layer of the liquid inside the pot -- up the long route through the sides of the pot, with losses of energy along the way, mostly to the cooler room air outside the pot. In contrast, the energy applied to the bottom of the pot goes straight to the liquid inside without passing "Go" and without collecting $200. Of course, up to a point, the level of energy applied to the bottom of a clad pot can be increased to compensate for the transmission losses of the long journey up the sides. But, in addition to risking scorching the contents at the bottom of the pot by raising the energy in that manner, in the meantime, the additional energy transmitted to the bottom of the liquid inside the pot will accelerate the convectetion upward within the liquid itself, and the heated liquid inside wins the race to the top every time; so when the heat in the clad pot's center layer finally does get there, it has no place to go but out into the room. (Heat always flows from the warmer zone to the cooler zone.)

                                              "IMO limiting yourself in 2011 to cookware that will work with induction ..."

                                              It is not a limitation, not in selection, and not in price, if you are not attempting to preserve a prior investment in specific pieces of cookware. A majority of options among existing cookware choices in 2011 (as it alwys has been) is induction compatible, ranging from cheap enameled rolled steel pots to all kinds of cast iron, to high-end Demeyere, Sitram, Bourgeat, WMF, Hackman, and The Brand That May Not be Mentioned on Chowhound Except in Praise. The only limitation is that some procedures in wok cooking are better done on a flame that licks high up the sides of the wok from a source that probably would violate most fire codes applcable to private residences. But that one area where induction is not the first choice is a property shared with all forms of electric cooktops, whether coil, "glass" top, ribbon radiant, or halogen; it is a matter of geomery, and even there induction units can be, and are made in dished shapes to apply heat up the sides of woks that conform to the dished shape. Diseconomies of small scale, however, dictate that dished induction units will remain disproportionately high priced relative the their frequency of use in a residential kitchen.

                                              1. re: Politeness

                                                "But that one area where induction is not the first choice is a property shared with all forms of electric cooktops, whether coil, "glass" top, ribbon radiant, or halogen"

                                                If we are talking about a flat bottom wok, then I would say the induction heating is more concentrated at the bottom than an electric resistive stove top -- which may not be a huge problem. A round bottom wok would be a big no-no for an induction stovetop. Another thing is that wok cooking can incorporate a lot of violent motions. Lifting and dropping the wok constantly -- which an electric resistive coil can probably handle better than induction stovetop surface.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  CK: "If we are talking about a flat bottom wok, then I would say the induction heating is more concentrated at the bottom than an electric resistive stove top..."

                                                  Having used both, I think that exactly the opposite is the case. All of the heat from an electric resistive energy source must get to the food by conduction from the outside of the pot to the inside, which can be a slow trip with cast iron. The magnetic field of an induction energy source does not require physical contact, so the energy is transmitted at the speed of propagation of electromagnetism across the entire bottom of the wok, and the inside of the wok is heated at the same time as the outside, without having to wait for conduction from the outside through the metal in the form of heat.

                                                  1. re: Politeness

                                                    "Having used both"

                                                    What both? A round bottom wok and a flat bottom wok on induction cooktop? I don't think a round bottom wok sitting on a wok ring is a good setup for induction cooktop.

                                                    "The magnetic field of an induction energy source does not require physical contact"

                                                    That's right, but the field strength decreases very fast especially when there is a closer path to complete the magnetic current. Much like an electric current, if there is another shorter and less resistance path, it will go through that. So it will close the circuit on the bottom of the wok without going through the top -- something which infared does not do.

                                                    "...the energy is transmitted at the speed of propagation of electromagnetism across the entire bottom of the wok, and the inside of the wok is heated at the same time as the outside, without having to wait for conduction from the outside through the metal in the form of heat"

                                                    I am not talking about the speed of magnetic field nor was I refering to the external surface of a wok. I was talking about the heat spread across a wok -- as in the bottom of a wok vs the rim of a wok -- not external surface vs internal surface. Moreover, woks are made from fairly thin metal (cast iron or carbon steel).

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      I have a couple of cast-iron woks with pedestal base, not a ring base, that I use them on an induction cooktop. The Lodge wok I think is like this and Bodum makes them as well as some others. They're rounded inside and the flat base means they sit securely on a grate or burner.
                                                      The larger sizes are too heavy except for weightlifters to use with a tossing technique and the heat retention of the thick cast iron is very different from that of the thin, hammered cast iron that's traditional. But one learns to adapt, and I will be quite happy with their performance (at least indoors, and until I set up a monster gas burner for the terrace and switch to a hammered iron wok.)
                                                      My impression is that the induction coils heat primarily the bottom center of the woks and it takes a long time for the sides to heat up, but next time I have a chance I can take some readings with my handy Raytek.

                                                      1. re: pericolosa

                                                        "The Lodge wok I think is like this and Bodum makes them as well as some others. They're rounded inside and the flat base means they sit securely on a grate or burner."

                                                        Agree.

                                                        "The larger sizes are too heavy except for weightlifters to use with a tossing technique "

                                                        Agree

                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Chemicalkintics: "'Having used both' What both? A round bottom wok and a flat bottom wok on induction cooktop?"

                                                        No: both induction and non-induction cooktops with rounded-bottom pots and pans. Our first induction cooktop was a hybrid with two medium-sized induction cooking areas and one large and one small ribbon radiant cooking area; prior to that, we were lumbered with a coil-top electric range for a couple of decades; prior to the coil-top range, I had been a gas person all of my life. We have used rounded bottom pots and pans on all of those cooking appliances.

                                                        "...the field strength decreases very fast especially when there is a closer path to complete the magnetic current. Much like an electric current, if there is another shorter and less resistance path, it will go through that. So it will close the circuit on the bottom of the wok without going through the top -- something which infared does not do."

                                                        I think that you misappehend the properties of both electrical circuits and of free-air magnetic fields. If you wire an electrical circuit in a ladder shape, the current flows through all of the "rungs," not just the one closest to the mains connection; that is called a parallel circuit (as opposed to a serial circuit).

                                                        Magnetic fields do not behave in the same manner as wired circuits, and you are correct that the presence of magnetic material within the field of an external magnet does shape the field much in the way that a large boulder in the midst of a creek will shape the flow of the stream of water; but the magnetic material will not "short circuit" the magnetic field. When we place a thick cast iron pot atop an induction burner, the oscillating magnetic field commences to excite the molecules on the inside surface of the pot at the same time as it excites the molecules closer to the surface of the cooktop; the inside of the pot heats directly, not by conduction from the outside surface of the pot. Similarly, the sides of the pot start to heat at the same time, and need not wait for conducted heat from the bottom of the pot.

                                                        The magnetic field of an induction appliance DOES drop off with the square of the distance from the inverter (which is below the Ceran layer of the cooktop, and thus is a bit removed from the surface upon which the pot rests), but the drop-off is no more pronounced as a function of distance than the drop-off of heat with distance from a ribbon radiant under the Ceran layer or from the surface of a coil-top resistive electric burner.

                                                        Incidentally, I apologize for the sloth of my reply. Since CBS reprogrammed this board on March 31, I no longer can post to it with three of the four computers (each of which runs a different operating system) in this location, and as a consequence I look in on this board only when I find myself logged onto my spouse's laptop, which occurs much less frequently than my use of the desktop computers.

                                                        1. re: Politeness

                                                          "If you wire an electrical circuit in a ladder shape, the current flows through all of the "rungs," not just the one closest to the mains connection;"

                                                          I should have said lessleast resistance path, not closest path. The current flows through all the rings/rungs because they have less resistance than other options.

                                                          "When we place a thick cast iron pot atop an induction burner, the oscillating magnetic field commences to excite the molecules on the inside surface of the pot at the same time as it excites the molecules closer to the surface of the cooktop"

                                                          Yes, but that is one piece of straight metal and the induction field from an inductor cooktop should be fairly uniform across the cooktop. It is more like a uniform electrically charge plane. However, the magnetic field changes depending on the magnetized objects. So if you put another piece of cast iron cookware an inch above the one already on the stovetop, then the mid-air one will received less magnetic field than otherwise. In a way, it is like electric field changes when a new conducting object is placed in between two charge points.

                                                          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...

                                                          "The magnetic field of an induction appliance DOES drop off with the square of the distance from the inverter"

                                                          Maybe. I think that is kinda like saying the electric field of a point charge drops off at 1/x^2, a charge line drops at 1/x and a infinite plate has no drop. My concern is less about the distance of the cookware from the induction cooktop, but the fact that part of the flat bottom wok "redirect" the magnetic field in a way which makes it even more impossible for the field to reach the side of the wok. I really think the "boundary condition" changes a lot for a curved cookware compared to a flat bottom cookware, and I don't mean the field strength drops vs distance.

                                                          By the way, I don't think it is the main issue of a wok on an induction cooktop. Like I wrote earlier, I don't think it is the main problem: "I would say the induction heating is more concentrated at the bottom than an electric resistive stove top -- which may not be a huge problem."

                                              2. After extensive (and expensive) testing at home, I settled on aluminum as easily the best. I have a Wear-Ever non-stick fry pan for eggs and, and two uncoated Wear-Evers for other frying. I've had Calphalon saucepans for 20 years and the surface is still fine. Even with nylon spatulas, though, aCalphalon frypan finish wore off. For blackened dishes, J have one carbon steel pan.
                                                You're probably aware that expensive gourmet store cookware is a waste of money. Looks nice, though.

                                                1. This may have been mentioned, but I go to great efforts in order to buy things with 'Made in USA'
                                                  on them. I feel I owe it to my countrymen/women working here to keep them employed as long as possible. Plus USA made stuff is good quality too.

                                                  Charlie

                                                  1. BBB FTW. Please no flaming! I just love that place so much and I'm willing to give up quality for convenience and loyalty to the store.

                                                    1. Often in these cookware threads posters say they don't want aluminum, citing some unnamed health fears. Others will write that those rumors have been debunked or never proven. Now I find an article that suggests a link between copper and iron and Alzheimer's.

                                                      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...
                                                      High Iron, Copper Levels Block Brain-Cell DNA Repair

                                                      Read the summary, though, before tossing out those copper and cast iron pans! :) In particular note that there is no mention of how or why certain individuals have elevated levels of these metal ions in their brain. I just thought it ironic that the metals that are often recommended as alternatives to aluminum for cookware, might themselves have a link to these brain diseases.

                                                      Note also the mention of curcumin (turmeric), which supposedly binds to the free metal ions.

                                                      1. I hate to tell you this but since you seem like someone who cares about what they are buying, consider buying Mauviel. Just get one piece at a time. Your grandchildren will use them. If you are poor, you have to buy something that will stand the test of time. Just my opinion of course.

                                                        1. Thank you, everyone who's replied to this thread, despite my lack of time to reply promptly and regularly!

                                                          I had a hectic stretch of work between when I last posted and now. I finally have a bit of a break to start shopping. I recently came across a sale on Amazon.ca for the Paderno brand of cookware. These two sets seem to suit my needs:

                                                          http://www.amazon.ca/Paderno-3000-09-...

                                                          http://www.amazon.ca/Paderno-1000-12-...

                                                          The Fusion5 set sounds like it's the "latest" technology and seems slightly better quality than the Confederation set. I also like the pieces in the Fusion5 set - nothing in it that I don't need. I don't need the saucepan or the steamer in the Confederation set but it is a far better deal.

                                                          Any opinions? Reviews on the Paderno brand?