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Jan 9, 2013 06:53 PM

Stressing over cookware order

I am not trying to start another long-suffering debate with this post but I am placing an order for a set of cookware and my stress level is rising! I have been researching for a few months now and have decided on a mix of copper/tin lining and carbon steel. I am dumping all of my Calphalon so this cookware will blend with my Staub pieces and my bare cast iron skillet to make a "complete" set. Please take a look at my list and tell me if I am missing something basic/obvious/necessary. I know everyone is different so I will say that I cook for a family of four 4-5 times a week (sometimes more often). I do not cook a lot of deep fried stuff but I do love to cook pasta, veggies, roast meats, saut├ęd meats, sauces and some casseroles. I am an above average cook that loves to try new things but I do not do a lot of sweets such as cookies or cakes (pies around the holidays).

Basically I am stressing because, for me, this will be a large purchase. An investment even, so I do not want to buy this cookware and wish I had purchased something else. Thank you all for any advice you may give!

I am ordering:
9" Carbon Steel Fry
13" Carbon Steel Fry
14" Carbon Steel Wok

Copper with tin:
1.5 Qt Sauce w/lid
3.25 Qt Sauce w/lid
11" Rondeau w/lid
16" Oval Roasting Pan
Stock Pot

I have cookie sheets, baking pans, a large cast iron skillet and various sizes of Staub cocottes already.

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  1. Hi, Mandy:

    Be not faint of heart. This selection fills out your batterie very well. You've done your research, and done some flexible thinking (e.g., the rondeau in lieu of a saute). Good job.

    All that is missing are specialty pieces you can afford to wait for and cherrypick when you find them.

    I should shortly be posting photos of a bimetal pan in the process of delamination, if you are questioning that parameter.


    17 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks Kaleo, I was questioning the tin vs. SS a bit mostly due to the fear of metallic tasting red sauces as reported here on CH! Then I decided if I still felt a concern after this purchase I can always add a SS pan or some such item if it is really necessary. Just needed a bit of reassurance I suppose :)

      1. re: mandymoo

        Hi, Mandy:

        You're very welcome.

        We nerds here debate the finer points endlessly sometimes. So I should apologize if any of that contributed to your uncertainty.

        *Real* culinary experts (as opposed to most of us here) are divided over whether anyone can actually taste any difference between red or other acidic sauces cooked in tin, stainless, aluminum, glass or other surfaces (other than iron). FWIW, the only weak consensus is that *aluminum* can impart a *color* change only to certain sulfurous foods, like onions. The discussion that has been fomented here recently is about other things--pan longevity, care, and dietary trace materials.

        I know *I* can't taste any difference, and I learned as a winemaker to be a hypercritical taster (I'm the kind of guy who, no matter how a dish tastes, always has an idea of how it might be improved).

        I choose to trust centuries of culinary history and science, along with the world's government safety regulators, over what another here calls "unknown entities" on the internet. You should too, IMO.

        Happy Cooking.


        1. re: kaleokahu

          After reading hundreds of posts here and on other forums, many articles, government websites (regarding safety) and speaking with a friend of mine that is a chef and my mother who recently graduated from Cordon Bleu, I made the decision to go with copper and tin. My biggest concerns were really the tomato based taste issues being reported and whipping out a recipe only to find that none of my cookware were suited for the task. That is one of the reasons I went with carbon steel fry pans instead of copper fry pans.

          I really appreciate all the knowledge I have gained from the CH forums, though I have to take some comments with a grain of salt. Most people have been welcoming and helpful, as you have been, so I just bypass the snarky comments!

        2. re: mandymoo

          "I was questioning the tin vs. SS a bit mostly due to the fear of metallic tasting red sauces as reported here on CH!"

          You are more likely to get a metallic taste out of the tin cans from tomatos with pasta sauce as acidic food eats away at tin. Remember copper manufacturers warn against cooking with acidic foods in tin lined copper for a reason ...they want happy customers! If you think that's pahooey then I'd at least suggest not cooking acidic foods for long periods. There's so many variables it's hard to quantify but it's still information worth knowing. I can't think of a better example than the Nina San Marzanos (not DOP) I used to buy. The first few cans I bought were fine. The last batch I made ate the lining right out of a Calphalon Hard anodized pot and I would think that would be far more durable than tin. Also please remember that some of us are trying to help even if an opinion is different than that of the dominant voice.
          Here's an example of pretty much every thing that could go wrong with tin. Acidic foods have eaten into the tin and right through to the copper at the base. You can see the nice even food line on the side of the pot. You can also see a blob of melted tin as well.

          Take care of your cook ware and don't abuse it and it will serve you well for a long time.
          I think you have made a fine selection aside from the oval roaster. I'm not sure I see any value in a copper roaster vs a more cost effective option.

          1. re: TraderJoe

            Please don't misunderstand, I appreciate any and all opinions/advice I receive kindly, whether it is what I want to hear or not. My issue comes with the snarky/mean comments I have witnessed on CH.
            As for the tin I am concerned somewhat but I tend to take care of things I love so I will treat it well. I have been considering SS lined copper but tin seems to be the way or has been done for many years so is it better? Opinions are so varied....

            1. re: mandymoo

              "so is it better?"

              From my perspective neither is better but rather there is a set of trade offs for each. This is why I find having some of both works well.

              1. re: mandymoo

                Hi, Mandy:

                Please don't believe that tomato sauce selectively dissolved that one, ragged, localized spot in that photo (it quite obviously *flaked* off). This pan was abused, not worn through or dissolved away. It was also obviously stirred and whisked with steel.

                Nor should anyone take seriously a claim that *one batch* of tomato sauce totally toasted a Calphalon's hard anodized lining. Tomato sauce is about 4 pH. The BKF acidic scouring powder that was used weekly to clean this pan is pH 1.5-- the same strength acid found in your stomach.

                I have intentionally acid-stripped tinned pans to prepare them for retinning. It's not particularly easy to do, even if you soak the already worn-through pan in the nastiest fuming muriatic acid you can buy (which registers about MINUS 1.1 pH). It usually also takes some mechanical scrubbing with a strong abrasive (think angle grinder, #4 steel wool, wire brush, etc.). The only way you could re-create the spot shown in the linked photo with acid would be to paint a thick layer of resist in all *but* that spot and soak it in VERY strong acid for a lot longer than the time it takes to make tomato sauce.

                One of the really good things about Hammersmith's pans is that they come with a retinning guarantee. If you make a bad mistake which requires retinning, they'll retin their pans once for free. That'll take care of about 20 years of careful use. Quite a value, and it's nice for peace of mind until you experience how durable the tin linings really are.


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  "Please don't believe that tomato sauce selectively dissolved that one, ragged, localized spot in that photo (it quite obviously *flaked* off)."

                  Tin can flake off?
                  The spot on the bottom is hardly the main issue with that pot. The etched line 3/4 of the way up the inside of the interior is where you can see the wear from acidic food as well as the obvious spots on the lid. The pan was clearly abused. Acidic food, Over heated, improper utensils, improper cleaning. That pot is the poster child for how not to treat tin. Of course there are those who claim tin won't melt and acidic foods won't cause any harm to tin. Clearly that's just not the case. I'm sure there are even those poor souls that could be convinced that this pot is safe to cook in (just over look all the green tinge). Don't abuse your cookware and it will serve you well, unlike this pot that's only about 5 years old.

                  BTW I received a nice refund from Calphalon for the anodized pot so they stood behind the warranty.
                  I'm not the only one that's had an issue with Calphalon silvering out in one cooking session. ;)

                  1. re: TraderJoe

                    Hi, TJ:

                    This is really getting funny. Where everyone else sees a discoloration line, you apparently have the vision to measure thick tin above and thin "worn" tin below. How much thinner is it?

                    The take-home is that there's no exposed copper corresponding with the line, ergo the lining is still in good shape (other than in the bottom, where you abused it).

                    I've never said tin won't melt. What I have said is that IME, it doesn't always immediately melt and puddle at 437F. BTW, the goober of tin in your pictured pan is not any cause for concern--tin obviously covers enough of the pan to make it safely useable even considering your abuse. Goobers like this are sometimes found in newly-retinned linings.

                    To quote Julia Child, someone you might consider less informed than yourself on the verdegris on exposed copper: "A copper pot can still be used when this happens [when copper shows through] if it is scrubbed just before you cook in it, and the food removed as soon as it is done." In fact this is what happens anytime anyone with a clue uses a Maslin zambaglione, or sugar pan or mixing bowl.

                    The link is pretty amusing. That aluminum pan, like yours, was used. Years of dishwashing, perhaps? And that poster admits continuously rendering apple butter in the pan *for several days*. If you read beyond the bellyaching OP, you saw what other "engineers" thought of that claim:

                    "The aluminum oxide layer should be non-reactive and quite hard. From my Calphalon literature, I gather that baring some sort of laboratory experiment, no amount of acidic food is going to remove that coating. The anodized coating is put on in a sulphuric acid bath, so I doubt apple butter would have any effect on it. If your anodized layer was removed, something went wrong in the process, and you should contact the manufacturer for a replacement. "

                    "It's sapphire..."


                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      "In fact this is what happens anytime anyone with a clue uses a Maslin zambaglione, or sugar pan or mixing bowl"

                      Mixing bowls and zabaglione pans are not lined for a reason. Bare copper and high acidity do not work well together. If the point you are now making is that you shouldn't use tin for highly acidic foods, I agree!

                      "Goobers like this are sometimes found in newly-retinned linings."

                      That's disconcerting. Wait all that time, spend all that $$ and then get shoddy work? It shouldn't happen. If it does all of that talk about tin cooking more evenly goes right out the window as the cooking surface would have hot and cool spots.
                      Please tell us more about tin flaking off. Poor tinning as well?
                      I agree tin won't always melt at 437. Some makers suggest even lower melting points. IIR Hammersmith says 425.
                      I thought you might have a hard time sorting out the posts on the link so here's a little help;

                      "My first dish was a simple braising of chicken with rice with a dash of lemon juice. It cooked great, clean up easy but to my great disappointment and shock there was a silver patina inside the pan up to where the food had been"

                      "Again, the food was apple-based. In this case mulled apple cider, where you simmer the cider with spices for about 3 hours.
                      Presto, when I poured the cider, the inside of the pot was bright silver from the "waterline" all the way to the bottom"

                      There's also numerous threads here on CH with similar problems. But any one can search those with ease.


                      1. re: TraderJoe

                        Hi, TJ:

                        LOL, well, if someone claims to have silvered out a new Calphalon with a dash of lemon juice, then you two deserve this shared delusion. That, or something was seriously wrong in the anodizing process for a few pans. If the anodizing was subject to easy dissolution in acid, your beloved BKF (recommended by Calphalon for their interiors despite its pH 1.5 acidity) would "silver out" A Calphalon far faster than lemon juice (pH 3).

                        Here's what Calphalon says on the subject: "Hard-anodized aluminum cookware can turn silver. It is unusual, but it can happen. This silvering is called deanodizing; it is the reversal of the hard-anodizing process. REPEATED exposure to HIGHLY acidic foods can sometimes cause deanodization. The cookware is still safe to use. However, if you have always followed the suggested use and care instructions, this silvering will be covered under the warranty. Please send a picture of your Calphalon product(s) using the Contact Us link so that we can determine whether it is, in fact, a MAUFACTURING DEFECT before sending your product(s) to our Calphalon Consumer Returns center." (emphasis mine).

                        Good thing the Marsala in zambaglione isn't acidic. Or the fruit in jams.


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I said: "Mixing bowls and zabaglione pans are not lined for a reason. Bare copper and high acidity do not work well together"

                          Your response; "Good thing the Marsala in zambaglione isn't acidic. Or the fruit in jams"

                          I seem to recall you saying something about using unlined copper in the in the past;

                          "In fact you can cook anything you want in it so long as you do not use strongly acidic ingredients"


                          It seems we agree about that! =D

                          I'd still like to hear more about tin flaking off as I've never heard of that before, although I have seen you warn against keeping tomato sauce in tin lined copper too long...Need a link?
                          I'm quite familiar with the Calphalon warranty. No need for photos just fill out the on line form and mail the pot back. I sent a Windsor pot back on 1/04 that silvered out but it was very old. I received a new 1.5 qt commercial anodized sauce pot yesterday. I suppose the stock pot in question could have been defective but it seems rather odd that I cooked the same product in it previously with no visible wear. The second time the sauce did set several hours. BTW I received a very nice refund for that one as apparently Calphalon is no longer making Anodized stock pots.

                          1. re: TraderJoe


                            As you keep referencing conversations that I was involved in, I feel I should keep the context straight.

                            You wrote: "...I have seen you warn against keeping tomato sauce in tin lined copper too long...Need a link?"

                            Here's the link:

                            If you go back and read the entire exchange, you'll see that the reason for avoiding storage of marinara in a tin-lined pot is that there could be exposed copper that would react with the acidic sauce. There was no concern for the tin.

                            1. re: jljohn

                              "If you go back and read the entire exchange"

                              I'd suggest you do the same because simply put the response you received pretty much negated holding acidic food every tin lined pan that had ever been used. I did get a real chuckle out of this in regards to the tomato sauce;

                              ""And you picked about the worst food to consider doing this with"

                            2. re: TraderJoe

                              Hi, TJ:

                              The problem here is your attention span is shorter than your posts.

                              The point about zambaglione, Marsala and the rest is that acidic foods can be safely cooked in both untinned pans and pans whose linings are substantially worn through, even showing verdigris. You just scrub them out. I quoted Julia Child to show her disagreement with you in your acido- and stannophobia.

                              And the point about Calphalon's warranty was to show that they consider quick acid-slivering to be an "unusual" result of a "manufacturing defect". Perhaps you think they, like Hammersmith, are not a "responsible" company, and are lying to poison people with instantly-dissolved anodizing.

                              Re: flaking...Your tinned copper pan looks as if not only was it abused thermally, but also mechanically--and often. There may have been a spot that received no flux, you may have chiseled at the bottom trying to exorcise a lump of Demon Lead, you may have dropped the immersion blender, or you may have quenched the already-overheated pan with the misguided idea of helping it. Maybe all of the above. Maybe a lot. All I know is a small, localized, discrete, ragged, jagged hole in tin is not an acid issue. It's your pan, but it even looks to me like a really bad, amateurish retin job where the remnants of old tin were tinned over and/or the flux rag was not lint-free. But since you suggest it was Mauviel's work, I'll chalk it up to your abuse.

                              I'm flattered that you read my old posts.


                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                "The point about zambaglione, Marsala and the rest is that acidic foods can be safely cooked in both untinned pans "

                                I'm pretty sure the point was that you posted the exact same thing I posted. IE Acidic foods (strong, highly etc ad nauseum) should not be used in bare copper. You used to have very balanced and accurate posts but some where along the line you've slipped so far down the Rabbit hole your current posts contradict your own prior posts.

                                1. re: TraderJoe

                                  Hi, TJ:

                                  Look, for whatever unsupported reasons, you believe it is unwise/unsafe to cook acidic foods in tin-lined pans. Even though that is demonstrably wrong from scientific and culinary standpoints, please don't let me or the facts stand in your way.

                                  I hereby declare you completely victorious, and myself utterly vanquished and irreconcilably and ignorantly inconsistent. Henceforth, everyone should do as you (say you) do and never cook foods <pH 7 in tinned copperware.


          2. Assuming you have something (your Staub presumably) between the 3.25 Qt Sauce and the Stock Pot, I'd say you're in good shape for pots.

            A small thing to think about with your 11" Rondeau is whether you intend it be a 2-handled saute or a more traditional Rondeau. I ask, because an 11" Saute is usually about 3" tall and holds about 5 qts to the brim, whereas an 11" Rondeau is typically more like 4" and 6.5 qts to the brim. While it's true that you can use either to approximate the other, if you intend to use it mostly for searing and sauteing, I'd get it 3" tall. Evaporation happens easier, and it is easier to work with a spatula or tongs. If, on the other hand, you want to use it more for braises or stews, go for a 4" tall. It'll give you substantially more volume and inhibit evaporation a bit.

            I might question the 13" carbon steel fry. You will need a really large burner to heat that anywhere near evenly. If you have one, then great, but on a standard 30" gas stove, the largest burners are typically not large enough and the 13" of real estate needed means that you could only get one other small to mid-sized pan on the stove at the same time. You might consider a 10" and a 12" instead? Just my 2 cents on that.

            Regarding tin- and stainless-lined, I have both, and I like having both. I find that I prefer tin, but the stainless is nice too. I've never picked up any flavor from the tin, and I make huge batches of marinara and other tomato-based sauces in my large tin-lined stock pot. I don't think you'll find any down-side to the tin, apart from needing to treat it gently.

            Looks like a great list, and I hope you enjoy it all!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jljohn

              Thank you for the input! You may be right about the carbon steel pan, I'll talk to Mac about it next week when he is back in the shop and see if they can make one a bit smaller!

              I am getting the rondeau at 3" tall (approx 5 quarts) as I will be using it more for searing and sauteing.

              I have a 4 Qt, 4.5 Qt Staub and I am ordering a 6 Qt to round things out!

              Glad to hear you haven't had any issues with red sauces as I make tomato based sauces and use wine a lot when I cook so that was a concern for me too.

            2. Do you have to buy all of those at once? Matching sets are nice for the dining room table and hanging on a display rack, but on the stove it is functionality that matters.

              1. You set look reasonable. However, like PaulJ, have you considered buying them in piece-wise? For example, just get a 9" carbon steel fry and a 1.5 qt sauce pan (tinned copper) just to try them out first? This will certainly decrease your stress level and give you a much better idea what you are getting into.

                1. I have considered purchasing them a piece or two at a time but my old cookware is dying off at an alarming rate (which I guess means I waited too long to get rid of it) and I really do not want to continue to cook in flaking nonstick, etc., any longer than I have to. I had to throw out another pan last night and if I don't go ahead and get a pretty full set now I'll have to go buy other pans to use until I "get my feet wet" with these which doesn't make much sense financially and seems wasteful. I know I should have been replacing them as they failed but alas, I am a procrastinator <big sigh>.

                  I am not really concerned about harming the pans. I do not think they are as fragile as some do and I may end up retinning one or two more quickly than is natural but I really like the idea of having something I can repair, not throw away, and pass down to my children. I am not interested in buying a new set of pans every few years and I think I can handle the learning curve. Everyone had to start somewhere, right? Stainless would be new to me at this point too as I have used cast iron and nonstick for as long as I can remember...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: mandymoo

                    <I am a procrastinator >

                    We all are, but I am also thinking about the number of necessary cookware. Surely, it is nice to have an entire set of cookware (8-15 peices or what). However, if you remember when we were young, we were able to cook meals with just one or two pieces of cookware. In my case, that time was in my college year. So maybe you can get just two-three pieces of the absolute needed cookware. Once you get them, you should able to figure in a week or less if these are what you really want. So really is a small time delay -- I think.

                    <I am not really concerned about harming the pans.>

                    If you are not worry about hurting the cookware, then what are you concerning about? Are you worry that you won't like them? Because I can only imagine the regret can only be (1) I like the cookware, but I have no idea what I was doing and I destory them, and (2) the cookware are intact, but I dislike their performance

                    <Stainless would be new to me at this point too as I have used cast iron and nonstick for as long as I can remember>

                    If you have used cast iron before, then carbon steel is really not very different. There are some differences, but won't prevent you from using them. So you are very safe regarding the carbon steel cookware.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Basically I took out all of the cookware that I use on a weekly basis and made a list of what was in need of being replaced. Could I get by with less? Probably, but this is what I am used to working with regularly so I thought it would be easier to just bite the bullet and get it all done at once.

                      My stress was more along the lines of getting this cookware and then finding out (in the middle of a recipe no doubt) that I didn't have a piece that would be suited for what I was doing (ie. tin lining/high heat) or making a wonderful red sauce that tastes like pocket change after spending X amount of money. I think that I am a competent enough cook that I can wrangle with the copper and get over the learning curve. I don't expect it will be like jumping from a Yugo to a Ferrari but maybe it will and I'll cry a few tears, send my pan back to Brooklyn for repair and start again. We'll see I guess.

                      As for the carbon steel I was hoping to have the same or similar results in those pans as I do the cast iron. Thank you for your help and input, I appreciate everyone's expertise :)

                      1. re: mandymoo

                        <My stress was more along the lines of getting this cookware and then finding out (in the middle of a recipe no doubt) that I didn't have a piece that would be suited for what I was doing>

                        Oh I see. You just worry if you have enough cookware. I think you have enough cookware, but then each of us have different needs. Do you want a saute pan? Some people like a saute pan, and I don't see it in your list. You may not need one depending your cooking routine. What about a pressure cooker? Yes, I know it looks nothing like your list, but I have only recently got a pressure cookware, and I find it to be very useful for making stock. You can sometime cut your time to half for making stock. It is useful for other things as well.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I am substituting the rondeau for a saute. I seem to gravitate to the rondeau I already have and bypass the saute so I thought I'd leave it out (I really like the two short handles). I did buy a pressure cooker a couple of months ago and I am surprised at how much I use and like it. I primarily bought it for when I need to get things done quickly but still have a substantial dinner. I made a lasagna recently and it only took 7 minutes to cook! That's a nice, hot meal for the family in less time than it takes to order pizza. I will have to try it for stock too. Haven't made it that far in my experimenting yet :)

                          1. re: mandymoo

                            <I primarily bought it for when I need to get things done quickly but still have a substantial dinner. I made a lasagna recently and it only took 7 minutes to cook>

                            Ok, you probably have a lot more to teach me about pressure cooker. I have yet to use my pressure beside soup and stock. The way, I see it is that I cannot (or very difficult) to overcook my stock in a pressure cooker. Have fun with your purchase.