What's Hot, What's Not, in Pots and Pans


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What's Hot, What's Not, in Pots and Pans

John Francis | | Feb 21, 2013 11:56 PM

That's the title of a 2008 New York Times piece by Harold McGee, author of the invaluable "On Food and Cooking." He tested the conventional wisdom about the virtues of different materials in cookware and found that they don't actually behave as many people believe.

The complete article is here:

Briefly, he found that cast iron is not an even conductor of heat on the stovetop. (It is in the oven.) He measured a consistent difference of 100° F between the center and rim of a "medium sauté pan," whether over flame or an electric heating coil. Low heat causes "even browning over a small area at the center of the pan, and none elsewhere." The most even distribution of heat was with heavy copper lined with stainless steel, and two inexpensive aluminum pans with nonstick coatings. In between was stainless-clad aluminum, which was also pretty good. Not so the cast iron.

He also found that all materials, not just cast iron, became more non-stick as they were seasoned by repeated use without scouring them down to the metal. People sometimes ask here whether stainless steel needs to be seasoned. According to McGee's experience, it's a good thing.

There's other information and more tips in the article - well worth reading. He concludes, "So what to do about getting pots and pans that work best? Choose the ones that you like, for their heft or their lightness, for cachet or economy, for finickiness or ease.... And cook with them often." Sounds good to me!

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