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A question about stock pots

Does a stock pot really need to be a high-quality pot, or will a large, relatively inexpensive pot, like those sold at the restaurant supply houses, work as well? I'm finding myself in need of a stock pot larger than the largest one I presently own (12 quarts), and I don't want to spend a fortune on it. What should I get? Thanks!

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  1. <Does a stock pot really need to be a high-quality pot, or will a large, relatively inexpensive pot, like those sold at the restaurant supply houses, work as well?>

    For making stock, the large stock pots from the restaurant supply stores are the high quality pots. Heat up fast, response fast, durable...etc. They are often made of aluminum, so you won't want to use a dishwasher to clean it -- not that you fit a giant pot in a normal dishwasher anyway.

    In fact, I would argue that using a large Le Cresuet or Staub (for example) is worse for making stock. A 13.25 qt enameled cast iron pot is just difficult to handle, and that is only 13.25 quart (watch the video).

    "http://www.zappos.com/video/player.zm..."

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Hi there, ChemicalK! I wouldn't even consider using LC or Staub, or even my 8-qt. copper pot for this type of task. I can hardly lift those pots when they're empty.

      1. re: CindyJ

        Yeah. Good. I think sometime people believe expensive equal to high quality. Sometime this is true, but sometime it is not. In my opinion, an inexpensive aluminum stock pot is better than an expensive enameled stock pot -- even if we do not consider the weight issue.

        Yes, the 16 qt Vollrath wear ever aluminum stock pot will work well for chicken stock. Like BBQJohn said, the stainless steel disc bottom (with aluminum) is also good too. If you think in the future that you may cook more acidic soup, then the stainless steel pot can work better.

        http://www.webstaurantstore.com/20-qt...

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          The difference in cost between the stainless steel and the aluminum is negligible, so I guess I'm better off with the SS.

    2. I'll chime in with Chemicalkinetics here. If we are talking about one of those 3mm or 4mm thick aluminum pots (as opposed to the paper-thin stainless ones they sometimes carry), then that is a good pot. I wouldn't use it for anything really acidic like a large batch of tomato sauce, because they are plain aluminum, but for making stock, boiling large amounts of water, etc, I'd say it's a good way to go. I would recommend avoiding anything that is thin steel, stainless steel, or enamel coated steel, which is what so many stockpots are made of, even supposedly high end ones.

      My local restaurant supply store has an amazing selection of thick aluminum pots ranging from a quart up to at least 120 quarts, and I think that even those huge 100+ quart pots are only a little more than $100. A 20 quart pot shouldn't cost to much.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jljohn

        This 16-qt. aluminum stock pot I'm now looking at is "standard 8 gauge." I don't know if that's thicker or thinner than the 3mm-4mm thick pots you mentioned. Here's an excerpt of the description:

        "Designed specifically for commercial kitchen use, this stock pot is built from standard 8 gauge, impact resistant 3004 aluminum with spot-welded handles and a beadless rim for superior durability and easy interior cleaning. It also features a double-thick top edge that stays round for a better cover fit, as well as a double-thick bottom that resists denting and spreads heat evenly along the base and sidewalls."

        1. re: CindyJ

          < resists denting and spreads heat evenly along the base and sidewalls.>

          8 gauge aluminum is >3 mm. A lot of people think of thick aluminum cookware for even heating surface and reducing heat spots, but that is only for cookware like a fry pan for example. For making stock, evening heating is not a major concern. For a stock pot, the thick aluminum really comes from the point of view of sturdiness. A thin aluminum pot will easily get bended or dented.... basically damaged.

          1. re: CindyJ

            I just did a little checking, and it looks like it is pretty easy to find even thicker--1/4" or 6mm--aluminum stock pots too. For example, I see a couple of new 20 Quart aluminum pots on ebay that are 6mm thick for about $40. ( example: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Winco-AXHH-20... )

        2. Restaurant supply house pots are fine to use, either aluminum or stainless with disk bottom.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bbqJohn

            <either aluminum or stainless with disk bottom>

            +1.

            Here are some examples of large stock pots:

            http://www.katom.com/cat/stock-pots-c...

          2. So for example, this 16 Qt. Vollrath Wear Ever Classic Aluminum Stock Pot would be okay for making chicken stock? http://www.therestaurantstore.com/16-...

            13 Replies
              1. re: CindyJ

                Since you already have a 12qt stock pot, why wouldn't you get something more than 4 quarts larger?

                I have had my eye on this one for a while:
                http://www.katom.com/175-77523.html

                1. re: Sid Post

                  I really can't use a pot with a diameter greater than 12" on my cook top, so that's a limiting factor. The pot in your link has a 14" diameter, so it wouldn't work for me.

                  I also need to be mindful of the weight of the pot when it's full -- or nearly full. When it's full, my 12-qt. pot tests the limits of my strength; I can probably handle 8 pounds more ("a pint's a pound the world around"), but more than that and I'd need to call for assistance.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    I agree in general with matching the pot/pan diameter to your burner but, I have also found that very high quality cookware really minimizes the temperature gradient. In a really good stock pot, the minor temperature differences at the edge versus the center really doesn't matter for most things. A quarter inch aluminum base will even the temperatures out pretty good.

                    A wider stock pot that isn't too tall will also be a lot easier to use whether you have a cabinet or hood that limits access or not. Some of those narrower and taller 16~20qt stock pots really need a step stool in a normal residential kitchen setting. Also, I'd rather put 16 quarts in a 20~24qt stock pot to contain splatters and sloshing when full. You also have the flexibility to go past 16qts when the need arises and you have someone to lift and move that heavy stock pot when it's full.

                    1. re: Sid Post

                      <the minor temperature differences at the edge versus the center really doesn't matter for most things.>

                      I think for making stocks and any thin liquid, it won't be a problem at all. For thicker liquid like chili, there is more of a problem of liquid not effectively circulating from the vertical direction more so than the horizontal direction.

                      http://www.hk-phy.org/contextual/heat...

                      For thick liquid, you just have to stir. There is no other way around it.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Total agreement here. Soups and stocks are pretty easy in most stock pots, even cheap stainless steel models, because the contents circulate and heat everything from top to bottom and side to side.

                        Thick stews and chili are a different creature. They don't "flow" so, if you don't stir them they burn on the bottom and remain uncooked at the top (unless you totally scorch the bottom).

                      2. re: Sid Post

                        Sid Post -- you make a number of good points, particularly regarding the height of the pot.

                        I'm concerned less about the temperature variations and more with the fact that my cook top has 4 burners, with grates adjacent to each other in a square configuration. If I use a pot with a diameter greater than 12", I can't center it on the burner and it will extend over to the grate of the adjacent burner.

                        I need to look closely at the specs of some of those pots. If I can find a 20-qt pot that is 12" or less in diameter and not more than 10" high, I'll get it if the price is right.

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          <I'm concerned less about the temperature variations and more with the fact that my cook top has 4 burners,>

                          Now that you mentioned it. Good point. Even my 8" quart pressure cooker pushes other pans and pot away -- or vice versa.

                          <If I can find a 20-qt pot that is 12" or less in diameter and not more than 10" high, I'll get it if the price is right.>

                          Hi Cindy. You are one tough customer. It will be nearly impossible to find such a pot. This is because your dimension barely give what you want, in fact, still a bit short.

                          12 inch ~ 30.5 cm
                          10 inch ~ 25.5 cm
                          Cross section area = π × r^2 = π × 15.25^2 = 730.6 cm^2
                          Height = 25.5 cm
                          Volume = Cross section area × Height = 730.6 × 25.5 = 18631 cm^3 or 18631 mL
                          = 18.6 L or 19.7 quart

                          Considering the thickness of the pot, the pot has to almost be custom made to give you 19 quart. :)

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I'm laughing, ChemicalK, because right after I posted that entry I asked my husband, who is an engineer, to figure out for me if a pot with those specifications was possible. His conclusion was the same as yours: "Nope, not if you want it to hold 20 quarts."

                            For me, that makes the case for sticking with 16 quarts. But I'll browse through the pots at the Restaurant Store, tape measure in hand.

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              <"Nope, not if you want it to hold 20 quarts." >

                              :) Heh

                              <I'll browse through the pots at the Restaurant Store, tape measure in hand.>

                              Oh great. If you have a restaurant supply store nearby, then visit one. Hopefully, it will offer both the stainless steel version and the pure aluminum version. You can always as the employee there for opinions. Have fun. You may happen to something else you like.

                              Almost all restaurant supply stores have these signs, and I always consider buying some and put them in my apartment or my office. :)

                              http://www.webstaurantstore.com/1249/...

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I'm in Lancaster quite often, and there's a Restaurant Store there. It's a dangerous place for me to browse -- I always end up buying WAY more stuff than I came in for.

                  2. re: CindyJ

                    Do you have cabinets or a microwave over your stovetop? I bought a 20 quart and had to return it for a 16 quart because the pot came up to about 4-5 inches below the microwave above the stove. That didn't leave enough room for stirring or adding ingredients.

                    1. re: dmjordan

                      No, no cabinets or microwave there.

                  3. I have a large 16 quart Sears Kenmore made from stainless with a thick clad bottom. I recall it being around $80.00 or so. It has worked well for us for the last couple of years.

                    1. I think that pot would be more than fine.

                      1. Hi, Cindy:

                        The thorough answer to your question depends on what you mean with "need" and "work as well". Personally, I think there is *some* justification for a higher-quality pot regardless of your meanings. But at the same time, the quality-for-cost and marginal rate of return is lower with stockers than just about any other vessel.

                        As others here have pointed out, the resto supply stockers tend to be pretty good, and excellent values. What you must have, in your first pass of quality, is a bottom that is not scorch-prone. So... either disk-bottomed or thick throughout.

                        A secondary but important factor is cooling. If you cool via KoolPaddles, a wort-chiller or a blast chiller (which few of us have and fewer use), then the cooling capacity of any old stocker isn't a big deal. But if you're using an icebath or the back porch, conductivity matters more.

                        You don't say how much bigger than 12Q you want, but if it is a lot bigger, IMO that would also cut toward a more conductive material.

                        If weight and cost are important to you, you can't go wrong with the thickest aluminum stocker (and cover) at the resto store. The "turkey fryer" units are quite the value.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Thanks for your insights, Kaleo. I hadn't really considered the cooling process. I typically use a modified ice bath -- put the put into a large cooler and fill with ice.