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Help with pan for induction cooktop and vegetarian foods (too many choices!)

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latetotheparty Aug 20, 2012 05:52 AM

New kitchen, new induction cooktop, and new pots and pans. Yay!

I was 99% decided on a 10" De Buyer mineral pan (carbon steel) for my big "frypan". Large cast iron pans are too heavy for me (and I am worried about scratching the cook top). I use very little oil when I cook so I want to stay away from stainless steel. Don't want to do traditional non stick (Teflon).

I hadn't though about the enameled "non-stick" pans, and now that I looked at them, I can't decide between an inexpensive enameld pan or the carbon steel pan.

My biggest hesitation is that I have read a lot about the carbon steel "loosing it seasoning" with foods like beans, tomatoes, and saucy foods. As a vegetarian, this pan will see lots of vegetables, beans, tomatoes, saucy foods, and risottos. And, I know me, and I won't be wanting to season this all the time. I barely have time to cook...

Does anyone have any insights here? Or should I just stop waisting my brain energy and buy the 13 peice stainless set that I found on sale?

THANKS!

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    ellabee Aug 22, 2012 09:37 AM

    Don't buy the set. It's bound to contain several pieces you won't use, and stainless tri-ply is not an ideal material for many kinds of cooking.

    Carbon steel is your best bet for a basic frying pan. Beans, creamy sauces, etc., will have little to no effect on the seasoning.

    The only preps that will set back the seasoning are prolonged simmering in highly acidic liquids: tomato, wine, citrus juices. For those kinds of dishes, get yourself an enameled cast iron Dutch oven or low wide braiser, which can be used on your induction cooktop or in the oven, and makes an attractive serving dish as well.

    1. paulj Aug 22, 2012 11:36 PM

      Stay away from carbon steel. It's too high maintenance for your purposes.

      I think you should start with a couple of sizes of stainless steel. The foods that you cook shouldn't need any more oil in a stainless pan than any other. For example how much do you need to saute onions?

      What do you mean by 'enameled non-stick'? Enameled steel has been around for a long time. I have several pieces like that, both inexpensive speckled blue, paella, and heavier dutch oven. They work find on induction, but they aren't much more non-stick than stainless steel.

      There are some newer 'ceramic non-stick' pans. In fact I just got a nice 3 qt Berndes aluminum deep fry pan with such a coating from TJMaxx. But whether they really are different from 'traditional' non-stick I don't know.

      Did you know that you can put paper on the stove top to protect against scratches and food splatters? Since it is the pan itself that gets hot, the paper won't burn. With time it will scorch if the pan gets hotter than boiling water, but it's easy to change.

      1. SWISSAIRE Aug 23, 2012 12:04 AM

        Good Morning;

        I just read your post, and think I see part of the problem and the dilemma.

        My wife and I cook amost exclusively using Rösle stainless steel pots and pans. 3 of ours meals per week are only vegetables, which we usually steam with herbs, in some very specialized oval pans with steaming inserts and heavy lids that Rösle makes. Other dishes prepared are pasta sauces and spaetzle cooked in a Rösle sauteuse pan. There are no aluminum pots or pans in our collection.

        When we glaze onions in our pans for example, or brown something similar we have no problem with stainless steel and food sticking or burning on the bottom. If your pans are sticking and burning, oil the inside of the pan or pot when it is first washed and dried, and then again before cooking.

        Then again, it could very well be the oil you are using.

        1. Try Olive Oil lite or ultralite, or even Grapeseed oil. These will take high heat, which Extra Virgin Ollive Oil cannot do ( a fact which I learned in cooking school ).Extra virgin oil burns into a real mess.

        2. The only negative with S.S. cooking materials is leaving tomato sauce in the pan in a very long soak in the sink ( they can begin to pit this way ), or using steel wool to clean, which will leave rust marks on the pan ( use a Scotch pad with soap, or the dishwasher ).

        I have a few carbon steel pans, one shaped just for trout, and I have more problems cooking on high heat with carbon steel, than I do with stainless steel. If both are oiled properly, the stainless steel is consistently easier to cook, sear, and wash clean.

        I do hope you find something that works for you that you like. Keep in mind that what your pot or pan is made of is relatively inconsequential to your health, when compared to what is cooked in the pot.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SWISSAIRE
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          unprofessional_chef Aug 23, 2012 11:21 AM

          I completely agree with SWISSAIRE's comments about SS and CS. Stainless steel IMO is great for vegetables, beans, tomatoes, saucy foods. Vegetables like broccoli, corn, and carrots don't require oil because they can be steamed with water. When I saute onions, garlic, bell peppers, or leeks, I only use about a teaspoon of olive oil. Most vegetables won't stick to SS anyways. You can probably saute without any oil at all. But they tend to end up less glossy and less appetizing. I'm sure you already know but water can be used to as a carrier to extend your cooking time without burning the food.

          SS doesn't have any coating that will wear or seasoning that might come off with saucy acidic foods like tomatoes. And it shouldn't leach into foods like aluminum. I've never tried to make soups in CS. But I'd imagine it would not end well.

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          ellabee Aug 24, 2012 08:57 AM

          I was pro-carbon steel because of the original poster's apparent enthusiasm for it. But it's true -- if you have no time for seasoning or minimal maintenance, don't use CS. It's heavier than many people imagine, too, and the handles are not comfortable to hold.

          If you're going the stainless tri-ply route, I think the 10" Regal American Kitchen frying pan is a good buy at $40.; the handle is long and comfortable. The whole line is being discontinued, but pieces are still around.

          1. firecooked Aug 24, 2012 09:10 AM

            I am a fan of stainless, especially for vegetables. If things start to stick, adding a little water takes care of it! For induction, make sure the stainless is magnetic. All-clad (my favorite) is, but other brands are not. I only cook on induction when staying at my brother's, and have to watch out -- the high settings seem much hotter than electric or gas stoves.

            2 Replies
            1. re: firecooked
              paulj Aug 24, 2012 09:18 AM

              I also find that if food starts to stick in stainless, turning off the heat for a minute or two softens the crust, and lets me stir it back in. This is especially obvious on an induction burner, since heat generation stops immediately.

              1. re: firecooked
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                latetotheparty Aug 24, 2012 09:18 AM

                Thanks for the heads up on induction. I have a feeling going from a 1970s electric glass top (that is older than me) with aluminum pans to induction with new pans is going to be a big change!

              2. l
                latetotheparty Aug 24, 2012 09:13 AM

                THANK YOU EVERYONE! I really appreciate your feedback. I am still undecided, but LOVE the idea of an enameled cast iron braiser, as it would have two handles (i.e. easier for me to hold/carry) and would be oven safe too. I have my eye on the 3.5 qt. Le Creuset Wide Round French Oven (with a 12.5 in. diam.). It is pricey, but since we are getting inexpensive stock pot and sauce pans, it will fit in my budget.

                I am happy to hear that you can cook with little oil in the stainless. I think my hubby wants the carbon steel because it is "cool", but I am the one cooking most of the time!

                1 Reply
                1. re: latetotheparty
                  tanuki soup Aug 24, 2012 10:18 AM

                  I'd recommend the Silit Silargan Fry and Serve pan. It's similar to Le Creuset, but tougher and suitable for high-temperature searing. Stainless steel core with a very tough high-temperature ceramic coating inside and out. It's also dishwasher safe and has a nice pouring rim (unlike LC). Made in Germany. I use mine to cook vegetables (like asparagus) on my induction cooktop all the time.

                  Here's a link to it at Amazon:
                  http://www.amazon.com/Silit-Fresh-11-...

                  (It's also available in more subdued colors. Mine is red, but they also make yellow, white, and black, IIRC.)

                   
                2. Chemicalkinetics Aug 24, 2012 10:32 AM

                  < I use very little oil when I cook so I want to stay away from stainless steel>

                  <I can't decide between an inexpensive enameld pan or the carbon steel pan.>

                  <and I won't be wanting to season this all the time.>

                  I am late to the party, but here is my take. I understand you won't want traditional Teflon cookware, so I will throw that option out. You mentioned tha tyou are debating about enameled nonstick pans. What are they? Do you mean enameled cast iron? If so, they are just heavy as traditional cast iron cookware -- which you stated that you are avoiding due to sheer weight.

                  As for your seasoning duration question, it is a good one, and the question couples well with your other comment about stainless steel cookware.

                  Many foods tend to stick to stainless steel surface during frying, so you will need to use a bit more oil to counter this. However, this is only true for pan frying, stir fry..., not braising or stewing. For carbon steel cookware, it is more the other way around. A well seasoned carbon steel pan is very nonstick (not as nonstick as Teflon), but it can lose it seasoning surface if you cook in acidic solution for long period of time. In other words, it is not a problem when you pan fry pan green beans, but more of a challenge when you make a pot of tomato soup.

                  So my recommendations are:

                  Carbon steel for dry heat cookware like frying pan.

                  and

                  Stainless steel cladded cookware for slow cooking vessel like sauce pans.

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