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How do you use all these heavy cookwares?

Hi everyone,

I was looking around William-Sonoma to buy "premium" cookwares such as all-clad pans and pots.

Holy moly.

How are they so heavy? How do you even cook with these?

I'm a fairly strong man whose weightlifting record is in the 99% percentile for my weight class, but I wouldn't cook with these cookwares. Simply too heavy.

My mother who has cooked for around 30 years was shocked at the weight. She can't even fathom how she'll be able to nimbly move around the kitchen cooking with these cookwares. She told me this is the main reason she didn't purchase any of the high-end cookware such as Fissler or All-clad.

I have a fairly heavy Calphalon chef's pan. When I fill that up with water to cook pasta, I can't even pick it up with one hand. It's ridiculous heavy.

I was expecting expensive cookwares to be light and transfer heat evenly. I guess the heavy weight transfer heat evenly, but when it comes to weight, it is a big no no.

So here are my questions.

1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?

2) How do you even cook with those?

I'm itching to hear your opinions.

Thank you

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  1. "How are they so heavy? How do you even cook with these?"

    A lot of metal. Well, if a short skinny woman can cook with it, so can you, right?

    "Simply too heavy."

    Maybe too painful. All Clad handle can be painful to hold on to -- depending how you grab it.

    "She can't even fathom how she'll be able to nimbly move around the kitchen cooking with these cookwares. "

    Yes, a woman in the store said the same thing to me too.

    "I was expecting expensive cookwares to be light and transfer heat evenly"

    No, most expensive cookware are heavy because of thick metal -- which provide even heating surface.

    1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?
    Because of thick metal

    2) How do you even cook with those?
    This is such a vague question which I am not sure if you are looking for a real answer. Assuming you are... well, you cook with these just like any other cookware.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thank all for your responds.

      The reason why I was expecting expensive cookware to be light and distribute heat evenly is because I have a castiron pan which is heavy but very cheap compared to the premium brands and it distributes heat very well. So I was expecting some high tech material that is both light and distributes heat well from an expensive cookware. I guess that's not the case.

      I guess I'll stick with some lower-end products that are lighter and have served me well. At least I get to save some bucks.

      1. re: rubenhan

        Well, if the lower end products are able to provide the specification you need, then that is good enough. The thicker metal simply makes it a bit more even heating, but you may not need that extra evenness. Obviously, the cooking surface will become more and more even as you make the layer thicker and thicker, but the cookware also become unwielding.

        If the thinner cookware work for you, then they work for you. No question about it.

        "I was expecting expensive cookware to be light and distribute heat evenly is "

        To some extend it is true. Aluminum is light and distribute very nice. You can actually get very even heating surface with a thick yet light aluminum pans -- inexpensive too. This is, in fact, what most restaurants use -- simple aluminum cookware. However, residential cookware are usually cladded with stainless steel to keep the reactive aluminum away from water and foods. The stainless steel layer can be thick too. So one by one, the weight adds up.

        Good luck

        1. re: rubenhan

          http://tinyurl.com/7yauso6 Berndes Tradition

          "Berndes Tradition cookware is manufactured using vacuum-pressure casting. High-grade aluminum alloys are melted and forced into a mold, ensuring the absence of air bubbles and resulting in a thick base, thin sides, no interior rivets, lightweight construction, and a perfectly flat bottom that never warps. The aluminum base delivers excellent heat distribution and is perfect for gas, electric, and ceramic stovetops."

          German made (last time I checked) cast aluminum. Very light, transfers heat very well. I don't think you should use these on high heat, but I have successfully seared a roast in my Berndes Dutch oven. However, these pans are so lightweight, they slide around on my glass top stove. But for me, this is better than a heavy Le Creuset.

          You might be able to find these locally.

          1. re: sueatmo

            I'm quite happy with cast aluminum pans like this. I have several (not just Berndes) that I got at TJMaxx. They have an induction insert, and nonstick coating. A slight problem is that the interior domes up slightly, causing fried eggs to slide toward the rim.

            I also have Berndes in disk bottom stainless steel.

            1. re: paulj

              Hmm. I have a wok, found at Home Goods, made similarly to the Berndes pans, and I think it is German. I use it at hight heat, even though I wonder if I really should. So far, though, it is fine. I like my Berndes DO, although I don't use it all that much. (Its too big for most of the meals I make.) I haven't noticed a domed interior though on either of my pots.

              I love Home Goods! I find German pots there--and other stuff.

      2. As usual, Chem has hit it on the head, I'm not sure what I can add but to clairify a few points.

        It's expensive because there is more material and/or technology in a high quality piece of cookware, be thankfull you weren't in the copper section at WS. The thickness provides a couple of things, thermal mass and more even heating due to better thermal conductivity. That is the thickness slows the heating enough to let the other areas of the pan heat to near what the part just above the heat source is. The thickness provides the thermal mass and the thermal conductivity of the metal moves the heat to parts of the pan not directly over the heat source. You need both for even heating. A really thin pan would heat so quickly in the area jsut above the flame on a gas stove for example that you would always have a hot spot. Sauté means to jump, but I must say, there isn't much jumping going on when I have a heavy sauté pan on the stove, it's more of a shuffle, that's how you cook with a heavy pan.

        Based on some research I did, here are some sauté pans and their corrisponding weights:
        All Clad Copper Core 6qt. 8 lbs, 0 oz
        All Clad D5 6qt. 6 lbs. 10 oz
        Falk Copper 4.5qt. 8 lbs. 0 oz
        Demeyere Atlantis 4.2qt. 10 lbs. 8 oz
        Fisler Orig. Pro 5qt. 10 lbs. 6 oz
        Viking V-7 6qt. 7 lbs. 0 oz

        These are all priced $250 US or more and the ply units are typically 2-2.5 mm thick or maybe up to 3mm in some cases. Some are disk bottoms which are perhaps 6mm thick.

        Disclaimer: the weights listed above are what I could find on various web sites and may or may not be exactly the weight of your particular pan. Consistant data was difficult to come by and I had no way of measuring the weights of all the pans myself. I haven't even weighed the one I bought.

        6 Replies
        1. re: mikie

          Hi, mikie:

          Add this saute to your list: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Hamme...

          Only 15 pounds (or a dime and a nickel for those in the iron game)!

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Hi Kaleo,

            At 15 lbs. that's why it's not on my list ;) It's also why I told rubenhan he should be glad he wasn't in the copper section at WS. That looks like some of the older stuff from WS, I'm surprised you're not all over that pan.

            1. re: mikie

              Hi, mikie:

              "...all over that pan."

              Well, I would be if money was no object. I already have an 11-inch like this, and can't justify. Right now, I need a cocotte/DO the most. And--I expect it will sell in the $300 range. It's rare- the planishing on the bottom is quite uncommon.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

            2. re: kaleokahu

              And we have a NEW champion, weighing in at 17 pounds with a reach of 14 inches! http://www.ebay.com/itm/Super-RARE-De...

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Hi Kaleo,

                If you scroll down to other items from that seller there is a polenta pan made in Italy that's unlined, I have one of those, also made in Italy. It's never been used as far as I know, it was my mother's and I don't recall her ever using it.

                1. re: mikie

                  Hi, mikie:

                  Yes, they are specialty pans. The lack of a lining squicks people out, but for a non-acidic dish they should be quite safe. Other pans are commonly unlined--beating bowls, zambaglione pans, preserve and confectionary pans. You should break it out and make polenta.

                  But if you're ever interested in selling it, I'd be interested in looking at it. kaleokahu@gmail.com

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

          2. A heavy pan is a good thing! Well, actually there are limits. On a recent visit to WS, I saw a ginormous dutch oven. I mean huge and when I picked it up I swore there was a dead body in there.
            If the pan is heavy, like my largest All Clad pan is, make sure it's got 2 handles.

            13 Replies
            1. re: monavano

              "I mean huge and when I picked it up I swore there was a dead body in there."

              Did you open the lid to check?

              1. re: monavano

                Ah that was probably the 13 qt Staub. That baby's 25 lbs, bone dry. You gotta be an NFL lineman to use that thing when it's full. ;)

                1. re: mikie

                  Yup, it was the Staub. No thanks, I don't need to tear a bicep!

                  1. re: mikie

                    "You gotta be an NFL lineman to use that thing when it's full. ;)"

                    You also probably be crazy to use an 13 quart enameled cast iron cookware. -- what is point anyway?

                    1. re: monavano

                      The 10qt(or 13 or 15 not sure) Stub I looked at a x-mas was 35lbs , and the 2, 7 qt (round and oval) I ended up buying are 17lbs 8oz for the oval and 17lbs 4oz for the round , my wife has no problem cooking in them I just have to wash them.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Ya it only cost 25.71$ per pound, what a deal.

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            Ha ha ha. I have never heard of cookware being described in "$/weight". This is awesome.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              HaHa there is a first for everything, I only thought of it after I weighed them, considering what CI costs there is a goood markup on those pots.

                    2. Hi,. rubenhan:

                      You must be in a *very* light/aged weight class if you can't lift the wares at W-S. More protein + heavier pans = stronger rubenhan. Try to work in the 3-5RM range until you can handle A-C.

                      As for mom nimbly mincing about the kitchen with full pans, well, if dance-ability is her #1 priority, it *will* save you money.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        lol Kaleo

                        I squat 600lb, DL 500lb, and BP 315lb. So no, I don't need more protein and more strength to lift Allclad. I rather not have to lift heavy weights if I don't have to. By the way, my father who is an extremely strong man by nature (used to be a wrestler) finds those cookwares heavy.

                        And if you are going to be smarty pant with your words, just don't contribute.

                        1. re: rubenhan

                          You are really strong. Well, like I have written above, everyone has different requirement for their cookware. Yours will be different than others. So maneuverability may be much more important for you, and that is great. For others, they seek fast heat response, and then for others they seek even heating. Everyone is different.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Thank you ChemicalKinetics for your sincere response. I really appreciate it.

                            1. re: rubenhan

                              Not a problem at all. We appreciate your post. It really get us to rethink some of our assumptions. In recent years, there is a push for "heat evenness". Unfortunately, there is a trade off. As you make a cookware material thicker, it will produce a more even heating surface, but it will also weight more and it will also heat up slower (slower heat response).

                              All of us have different expectation and criteria. Just like some people like a sedan and some people like a coupe. We all have different needs. While I can tell you for sure that a thinner pan does not produce the same even heating surface as a thicker one, I cannot tell you what is optimal for you. I think some may have stepped over that boundary.

                      2. 1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?

                        Weight = heat capacity, good cookware will be heavy. Thick gauge aluminum, copper, or steel is what you're paying for. Would you rather cook in a cast iron skillet or disposable aluminum pie pan?

                        American labor produced goods will cost more. AC uses a unique interior SS lining.

                        2) How do you even cook with those?

                        When you're cooking, you're leaving it on the stove not holding it in your hands. The weight of the cookware is irrelevant. Even food cooked in skillets shouldn't need frequent flipping.

                        "I have a fairly heavy Calphalon chef's pan. When I fill that up with water to cook pasta, I can't even pick it up with one hand. It's ridiculous heavy. "

                        Try picking it up closer to the center of mass. Or it could be poorly designed which helper handle could be handy.

                        1. With respect I really do not understand why weight is an issue. Clearly you are strong enough to lift these pans. They might be relatively heavy but they're not heavy. I enjoy the feeling of weight when using this stuff.

                          Probably it has something to do with cooking styles. I get the pan/pot out of the cupboard put it on the flame, use it, then wash it nd put it away. When I use it though, I don't pick up the pan and food and move and shake it around to assist in stirring and ensuring that food doesn't stick etc like you see chefs do, the pan just sits on the heat source and I do everything with the utensil.

                          If you do move the pan around a lot I guess weight becomes a negative, but really are these things heavy? I just don't think so. Don't get it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jhamiltonwa

                            I can lift them alright. That's not the point. I was just pointing out that the premium lines are much heavier than the low-end cookware, and I was very curious why and whether or not people actually use them frequently. And when I say it's heavy, I don't mean I can't lift it. I'm saying the weight difference between an inexpensive line and premium line is signifcant.

                            If I have one T-fal sauce pan in one hand and one all-clad suace pan in the other, I can definitely feel the significant weight difference. And for my cooking style and preference, I rather have lighter cookware that heats quickly.

                            I know my post could sound like complaint, but it was more of a question coming from curiosity.

                          2. I once sold a set of Le Cruset to an elderly woman who just "loved" the pieces. I emphasized repeatedly that it was heavy when empty and even heavier when full. Well, she bought a whole set and came back with them a day later saying they were just too heavy. I say those who are not strong should stick with aluminum because it is light and easy to work with.

                            1. No knock on rubenhan but a buddy of mine is a bodybuilder and only uses Revereware. Why? Because he thinks having to lift a full pot with 2 hands is a sign of weakness.

                              We're all different so if rubenhan likes lighter ware for whatever reason then I agree that he should stick with what works for him and what he likes. I have a circa 1960 efficiency kitchen and admit there are times that swinging light pots and mincing around happens when things get busy. Slowing down for a heavy pot kills that groove.

                              Maybe I should listen to less pop music and put on some Strauss.

                              1. I'm probably about your Mom's age and size, and I can manage most heavy cookware provided that the size is not above 8 quarts/liters. Once filled, those pots are too much for me to manage, and this includes very high end copper, which is among the heaviest, Le Creuset or Staub, Demeyere and all but the LTD line of All Clad. I also avoid putting 20 pound turkeys in those very heavy roasting pans, so I use lightweight materials when cooking on Thanksgiving.

                                You cannot "toss" those skillets when cooking, that's for sure. My suggestion, frankly, is if even heating and light weight are your top priorities for performance and comfort, skip WS and head for your local restaurant supply store or on-line supply outlet, and check out all-aluminum cookware. Restaurants use aluminum because of the combination of performance, cost, and weight, since they sometimes have to use enormous pots and pans, like stock pots. Aluminum can distribute heat nearly as well as copper, and the only reason I believe it is not popular is because it must be handwashed (no dishwasher, ever), and the fact that for a while there, rumors of aluminum's link to Alzheimers were out there on the Internet. To my knowledge, it has never been truly proven, and this was sufficient for me to invest in some aluminum stockpots in the 20 plus quart size. You will save a lot of money and get some pretty nice pots that meet your criteria if you consider this.

                                1. You are absolutely right that some of this stuff is really heavy and would've presented an obstacle to my mother (who would've called my dad for help), but I have used them so long I don't really think about it much anymore. a few years ago I sent my medium and large saucepans to be tinned and the tin smith took so long I needed a workaround for the holidays. I got a deal on an All Clad saucier. It seems featherweight compared with 3mm copper. That said, I really missed the copper, even though it is old and heavy. I am very thankful for stovetop grates that allow me to slide pans about, being a 63 year old guy who would be challenged to press 120.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: tim irvine

                                    Makes you wonder how those little old ladies in times of old, handled all that cast iron cookware. I think we have the ability to adapt to whatever we have to or want to. Of we don't have the option of lighter weight cookware, we somehow will handle the heavy cookware. I am a small lady to and not young anymore. It is quite an effort for me to manage a 50# nag of horse feed. But for some reason, whenever my husband is not around to carry the feed. I manage it without too much trouble. Somehow it just seems heavier when he is around LOL. I also don' think anything of cooking with all my cast iron. I like using it, so I do just fine with it.

                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                      Go back a hundred years and the average life span was about 50 years for women, so only the really tough ones got to be old ladies.

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        Those little old ladies were tough as old boots, that's how they did it.

                                        Infant deaths are part of the "average age" figures. Once you got past infancy, your odds for longer life were better. I think there were plenty of old ladies cooking or at least alive, into their eighties. My two great grannies certainly were.

                                  2. This is why I like the Cuisinart Chef's Classic line. My favorite pan:

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-725-3...

                                    It has a stainless steel clad aluminum disk bottom, but the extra layers are only on the bottom so it is much lighter than the better quality brands which are fully aluminum with stainless cladding. Do I give up some performance? Sure. But I don't think it's significant and it's worth the tradeoff in lighter weight for me. I switched to this from my cast iron, so it was a huge difference. I keep toying with the all-clads, but everytime I go in person to check them out the weight drives me away.

                                    So keep in mind there are some reasonable alternatives that look nice, are lighter weight, long lasting, and reasonable performance.