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What material is best for pots

t
toyopl Jul 7, 2012 08:12 PM

Me and my fiance are trying to piece together new kitchen as we just bought our first house and we're moving away from my parents house.
I got nice Debuer Mineral pans but now I need some pots.

What material is best for quality pots ? Should I focus on researching for some goos stainless pots, or copper or simply Cast iron enamel like Lecreuset ?

I would prefer to buy once and spend more than to save and then regret my decission.

  1. j
    janniecooks Jul 8, 2012 01:01 AM

    There is no one material that is best for quality pots, but of all the materials you listed I would be less likely to choose stainless steel. I would not like to have to use enameled cast iron on an every day basis, the weight is an issue, but when doing a braise I prefer ECI over any other material. When I make eggs I almost always use a non-stick cast aluminum skillet. So the answer depends on what you cook and how you cook. I have enameled cast iron, multi-ply stainless like all-clad, cast aluminum, non-stick aluminum, anodized aluminum, and enameled stainless steel. I use all these regularly, for different things, but the stainless least of all. I'd like to have copper, but innate frugality prohibits it and my cooking hasn't suffered for the lack of copper.

    1. j
      John Francis Jul 8, 2012 02:02 AM

      As janniecooks says, it depends on what you cook and how you cook - and, I'd add, how much you cook at a time. If you'll often have guests, or if you like to make extra and freeze it, you'd go for larger pots than if it's mainly for the two of you. And if your new house has an induction stove instead of gas or standard electric, that affects the choice of materials.

      I've gone through three phases about pots. Years ago, I bought solid aluminum sauce pans because I didn't know better and many of today's choices weren't available yet. Then I got tinned copperware, and it's outstanding for many things, but as the tinning began to show signs of wear I decided to reserve it for special uses and bought inexpensive hard-anodized aluminum pots for everyday use. The surface is essentially non-stick, which is handy, but without the limitations and safety concerns of Teflon. Now I hardly use the copper pots and pans at all.

      What I now have:

      Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Saucepan with Lid
      Calphalon Simply Calphalon Nonstick Hard-Anodized Aluminum 1-Quart Saucepan with Lid

      Since I almost always cook just for myself, I haven't needed a larger saucepan, but if I did, the Calphalon pots have done so well by me that I'd probably stick with that brand. They make reasonably priced 3.5- and 4-quart saucepans of the same material and I expect they'd be equally good.

      I have a big aluminum pot in the cupboard - actually, two of them - for boiling amounts of pasta, which needs lots of water, but I haven't used it in years. Never made stock so I don't know whether aluminum is OK for that purpose or whether it would spoil the stock.

      There's also a cross between a saucepan and a skillet called a sauté pan - wide and fairly shallow like a skillet, but with vertical sides and a lid like a saucepan. I have one that's tinned copper but mostly it stays in the cupboard. I don't have a double boiler and if I ever needed one, I'd probably improvise it with a saucepan and metal mixing bowl. But my parents had one made of Pyrex glass and used it.

      This is all stovetop equipment and you haven't mentioned cookware that goes in the oven - casseroles, Dutch ovens, and bakeware such as loaf and muffin pans - but if you want advice about these, I'm sure the folks here will offer it.

      1. j
        jljohn Jul 8, 2012 08:46 AM

        Hi,

        Here is a thread that may not have come up in your search, because it didn't use key words you probably used, but I think it contains much of the info you are looking for:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/849282

        I give a detailed response about half way down that lays out what pots and pans I would recommend in which materials.

        Hope it helps!

        Jeremy

        1. paulj Jul 8, 2012 08:52 AM

          best for what? I have pots and pans with a half dozen (at least) different types of construction, and wouldn't rate any one better all around.

          1. kaleokahu Jul 8, 2012 12:16 PM

            Hi, toyopl:

            You're going to get a lot of divergent answers here. People tend to like what they have, and not like what they haven't tried.

            Let me try to streamline your search... You need to define what you mean by "best". What priority do you put on the following factors *for each type of pan*:

            --pure performance
            --cost
            --upkeep
            --aesthetics
            --weight
            --induction-compatibility
            --dishwasher-compatibility
            --metal utensil necessity

            In theory, the answer to your question is thicker, i.e., >2mm, copper. If you have the $$$ and depending on your priorities above, this answer also extends to actual practice. There are a few exceptions (many of which are satisfied by your deBuyer Mineral pans), and there are quasi-exceptions where the high extra cost of copper results in only a slight marginal improvement. If money is a consideration, you need to pick and choose carefully, scrounge and/or acquire over time.

            I am one of those cooks who invested heavily (and at MSRP) in Le Creuset. With a handful of exceptions, I've come to regret having done so. I wish now that I had invested in copper right away.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            3 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu
              t
              toyopl Jul 8, 2012 02:38 PM

              I need maybe 2-3 pots for boiling potatoes, rice, stew, making occasional soups.
              Then maybe saucier, and I'm guessing non-stick pan for where acidic foods shouldn't touch my debuyer mineral pans.

              -Cost is not an issue, i'd rather buy one at a time over time than to settle.
              -Looks are all the same, something stainless or red, but no mario batali or rachel ray :)
              -Induction not necessary, it will be gas stove
              -Weight not an issue, even cast iron are ok weight wise
              -Dishwasher this can go either way, not a biggie

              1. re: toyopl
                kaleokahu Jul 8, 2012 06:23 PM

                Hi, toyopl:

                Well, if those things are not issues for you (you didn't say about upkeep and metal utensils), it would be hard to go wrong with either hard-anodized aluminum or copper. Either would give you "growing room" as you progress past mostly boiling. And unless a new material technology is invented, you'd be hard-pressed to top either of those in terms of evenness, responsiveness and rebound.

                If you're serious about buying once, I would avoid non-stick. If you don't mind replacing every 2-5 years, then great. Also if you cook a lot of eggs and some sticking bothers you.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: toyopl
                  g
                  GH1618 Jul 8, 2012 08:49 PM

                  A saucier with stainless steel lining is a pleasure to use when making a delicate sauce. The body should be aluminum or copper, with stainless exterior optional. If cost is really not an issue, consider this 1.7 qt. Mauviel saucier:

                  http://www.cutleryandmore.com/mauviel...

              2. Chemicalkinetics Jul 8, 2012 03:55 PM

                Based on what you said, for making potato stew, rice, soup..., I would say that a cladded stainless steel pot should fit your requirement. Alternatively, a nonstick surface aluminum pot will do very well as well. While a Le Cresuset may work alright for making slow stew, it isn't responsive enough for boiling a pot of water to make rice or soup...etc.

                Between the stainless steel cladded pot and the nonstick aluminum pot, it is really about if you like a more robust and durable pot (stainless steel) or if you like an easier cleanup and nonstick pot (nonstick Teflon).

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