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Which Heavy Aluminum For Induction?

  • DuffyH Nov 18, 2013 10:11 AM
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Looking at lighter weight alternatives to stainless cookware, for both large saucepans (anything over 3 quarts) and sauté pans, I've lately found myself drawn to, yet wary of, aluminum pans. I think there are 2 factors that are important; pan thickness and magnetic base.

I prefer thick pans, and my experience with nonstick frypans tells me that my happy place is around 3-4mm. Can I get this in some of the mass-market stuff like Analon and Circulon?

I'm really at sea when it comes to the magnetic base, and here will rely on you for your experience. If you've got aluminum, which pans do you have and how do they compare to other cookware for response?

I'm drawn to higher end stuff by the thickness of the pans. I've been browsing Mauviel M'Stone, Tramontina Lyon (too heavy??), Le Creuset Hard Anodized. I briefly flirted with Chantal Copper Fusion until I got over myself. No way would I want to be lifting all that carbon steel.

I'm also intrigued by some of the mass-market stuff, specifically Anolon Nouvelle Copper and Curtis Stone Hardstuff (don't judge!). I had a Circulon pan once, long, long ago, but couldn't get past those ridges inside the pan. They were weird, and I don't know if I'd still think so. Otherwise, there are a couple of Circulon lines that look good, too. Will these be thick enough?

My big question mark for all of them is how they perform on induction.

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  1. The only aluminum pan I use is a $20 non-stick Oneida from BBB...so I can't speak to the more quality pans...but the responsiveness is perfect. I fry eggs in it every morning.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JayL

      Hi Jay,

      is it this one? http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/1/4...

      It looks like it's walls are about 2.5mm thick, yes? And of course more for the base. But only frypans in that line? Boo!

      1. re: DuffyH

        Yes, that's the fry pan I have for our morning eggs. The sides are a bit steep, but after that first failed flip I adjusted and flip perfectly (almost) every time.

    2. I forgot about the new AC B3 at BB&B. If the weight is right, I could live with those nasty handles.

      1. Tramontina Lyon are a whopping 8mm of sheet aluminum (vs. cast), with 6mm lids. They're outstanding for long, low-simmer operations on induction -- the combination of even-heating thick aluminum and nonstick surface makes it very resistant to scorching for things like fruit butters, ketchup, etc., and a breeze to clean.

        They're certainly not too heavy for those kinds of applications, where you're not handling the pot much during cooking. Or are you concerned about weight while cleaning and storing/getting out of storage?

        The Lyon 4-qt Dutch oven is close to 7 lb with the lid on, as is the same-capacity pan in Chantal Copper Fusion, enameled carbon steel with a thin inner layer of copper.

        Both seem pretty manageable to me after a cooking lifetime of wrangling the 10-lb enameled cast iron Copco in that same useful 4-qt size (the D3).

        4 Replies
        1. re: ellabee

          Hey ellabee,

          I was thinking about you tonight, hoping you'd pop into this thread.

          8mm is, oh, just twice as thick as anything I really need. For years my DO has been a stainless pot, and it's all I can do to move my 12" Lodge skillet from atop my Breville oven to the hob next to it. I passed on a big DeBuyer Country Pan and 12" Mineral frypan because of the weight.So, I think I can cross Lyon off the list.

          <Or are you concerned about weight while cleaning and storing/getting out of storage?>

          Absolutely. It can be a pain maneuvering a heavy pot around in the sink. I've got a separate sprayer, which helps quite a bit, but it also means I get wet a lot, too. I don't think I want to make it worse. Cleaning my Demeyere 11" frypan is a workout and a shower, both.

          I keep thinking life would be better if I swapped out my sauté pan for a rondeau, to get rid of the cumbersome handle, but then I cook in it and realize that I'm a handle grabber. I even hold the handle of my Lodge CI while moving food in it, and there's absolutely no reason to do so; that monster isn't going anywhere.

          1. re: ellabee

            Hi, ellabee:

            It looks to me like the Tramontina Lyon may not be a full 8mm thick. The *rims* may be, but it sure looks like the walls are thinner than the rims.

            Any idea how thick the total base and/or induction disk are?

            Other than being non-stick, these look nice.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Tramontina says it's made from 8mm aluminum sheet, so I believe them; could be the sheet thins out in the stamping? At any rate, even if the walls are 6mm, that's thick enough to manifest aluminum's best qualities.

              Hard to tell about the base; the steel in/on the base is not a solid disk, but a sunburst pattern, shy of 1/8" thick.

              Not wild about nonstick myself; this is my only nonstick pot. For the kinds of things I use the Lyon pot for, though -- apple butter, ketchup -- the nonstick surface is actually an advantage.

              1. re: ellabee

                I'm not sure how I feel about nonstick on the whole. I've only had frypans that were nonstick, not counting my early Scanpan, which I think may not have had teflon, but might have been like Calphalon Commercial.

                I don't mind it for frypans, but aside from a veggie sauté, I don't find it advantageous. I can see that is might be useful in a saucepan or saucier, especially for cream-based or cheesy stuff.
                It would make hand washing easy, that's for sure. And if that's what's required to get the weight down, okay.

                Still, last night I made my riff on lettuce wraps, using ground pork this time. I did it in my clad sauté, cooking the pork, then green onions, finally deglazing with the sauce. I let the leftovers sit in the pan, and expected a soak would be needed. Turns out my pans can still surprise me, I didn't have to soak it at all. Everything came off with a soapy sponge, didn't even need to turn it to the blue scrubby side. I really expected some protein residue from browning the pork, but no. Squeaky clean. But it would have been nice if the pan were a little bit lighter in weight.

          2. You might also want to check out Swiss Diamond. Their "i" series cookware is designed to work on induction cooktops.

            http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

            1 Reply
            1. re: tanuki soup

              Thanks, tanuki.

              I'm a bit on the fence regarding SD and Scanpan. I'm not sure exactly why, perhaps it's something about the looks of the pans. I'm shallow that way.

              Maybe it's my early experience with Scanpan classic that didn't go so well. Of course, that was when I didn't know the first thing about cookware.

              I'll give them a serious look.