Stainless pasta pot + gas cooktop = really slow?

wwu123February 8, 2012

Is it just me or is a shiny pasta pot on a gas cooktop just a bad combination? I have nice large stainless pasta pot from Williams-Sonoma bought many years ago, with a nice heavy clad insert on bottom, and it wasn't even very expensive at the time. I just feel like it takes forever to come to a boil on my Wolf rangetop. So more often than not I'll end up using my largest Calphalon pot instead.

I know part of it is the pasta pot holds a lot more water than my Calphalon pot. But it takes so long I almost feel like the shiny bottom is reflecting a lot of the flame heat away, compared to the dark bottom of the Calphalon. Am I way off base here?

Or is it that the heavy insert takes a long time to heat up, but should recover the boil more quickly after I put in the pasta?

I actually bought an induction plate, partly hoping that it would be way more efficient at transferring the heat to the stainless pot. Unfortunately I found the pot didn't work with induction.

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beekeeperswife

Calphalon is all aluminum. Aluminum conducts heat better than stainless.

Not sure what is in the base of your stainless pot.

Run a test, put the same amount of water in each pot, and time them on how long it comes to a boil.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 6:33PM
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llaatt22

From your description, I would be more inclined to blame the poor heat transmission on internal pot design or a flaw that occurred during its production and has gotten worse with time.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 1:10AM
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catman_gw

The transfer of heat from a gas flame to a pot is something that seems to be ignored. Heat exchangers usually use fins to increase the conducting surface. The closest thing I've seen to that is Le Creuset which has what looks like stubby fins. The texture of the surface should also matter. Has anybody ever seen any research on the subject?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 10:23AM
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fly-weight

What is the BTU ( heat output) of the burner. When I want to boil water in a large pot on my gagg gas cooktop, I put it on the 17 000 BTU burner. I also have other burners that are only 6800 BTU.

What is the output of your burner?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Derek87

i actually may have the same pasta pot...mine is about 10 years old...solid bottom, glass lid, 8 quarts?

regardless, i agree with what many have stated. while the pot matters, in the end, i wouldn't expect your boil time to be very different in the end. on our 18k burner (which i actually don't have turned up all the way, lest the flames go up the side of the pot, so i'm guessing i'm probably in the 12-14k range), i can boil about 4-5 qts of water in about 10min.

i'd wonder, along with everyone else, what the output of the burner you are using is. if you're over 10k, you should get decent boil times. (i of course cover the pot while the water is boiling)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 4:11PM
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kitchendoc

Unless you want to finish the pasta by cooking up additional ingredients in the same pot, there is no need for a heavy clad insert, so go with the thinner aluminum which will definitely heat up faster. If you are using enough water, boil recovery shouldn't be a problem.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 7:28PM
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wwu123

Derek87, yup sounds very much like the same pot - do you have the pasta insert and the steamer insert?

I believe the Wolf rangetop is about 16K on all burners. It does take about 10-15 minutes for about 4 quarts. So I guess that is about normal and to be expected?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Derek87

wwu, yes, ours has the pasta insert and steamer although they are rarely used (had to think for a second about that question ;) )

i'm guessing yours is performing normally. the ~10min it takes has always seemed fast enough to me...fast enough that it keeps up with me prepping a quick dinner meal so that i can get food on the table, if i'm efficient in 20-25min. [10+ pasta cooking time is the same i'd use to prep whatever quick sauce i'm making + salad or any other side veggie dish]

i don't think i would need it to be any faster than it is, although it might be interesting to try out our all clad stock pot and some cheap thin pot, as suggested above, to see if it makes a big difference. (of course, carefully measuring out the exact amount of water in each case...)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Nunyabiz1

Best thing is make sure the base is at least 12" minimum, then you get the most out of the flame.
I have a really old thin Aluminum pot that is 13" dia filled about half way with the lid on it is boiling in about 7-9 minutes on a 15,000btu burner.
Only thing I don't like is that it is aluminum and reacts to salt water, but it boils fast.

I actually want to get a stainless Stock Pot at some point but only if it is at least 12" Dia.
I have no problem just filling the pot putting on the lid and turning the burner on about 30% and forget about it while I am preparing everything else.
Then when I want it to boil I just turn it on high and its rapid boil in about a minute.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 3:43PM
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wwu123

Well, I was making spaghetti today so decided to time it. The pot is 10" dia, 8 qt. I filled it about halfway, so about 3.5-4 quarts of unsalted water. Turned the Wolf range to High setting, which is supposed to be 16K BTU , at that setting the flames don't go visibly past the edge of the pot, though I'm some fair amount of heat is escaping around the sides.

Took 12-13 minutes to get to a rolling boil. Put in 1/2 lb of pasta, it took about two minutes to recover the boil. I think if it was 10 minutes to boil, with instant recovery time, that'd be OK. But really it's 15 minutes to get to the 2nd boil.

So if I got an induction-ready pasta pot, how quick would a 2000W induction plate boil 4 quarts?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:06PM
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