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besides dw safe, what are the pros of stainess steel?

Posted by victoriajane (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 7, 09 at 23:50

Hello, newbie here, just finishing a kitchen renovation and I'm so happy to be moving on to the cookware issue. We currently have a hodge-podge of pots and pans leftover from college days. I'm not looking for a "set" per se, but I'd like to discard the crap and replace with decent cookware. I asked dh which kind of pans he prefers; he rummaged through the drawer and pulled out an old calphalon commercial saucepan. He says he much prefers it to the stainless steel. I think he likes the heft of the pan and the fact that he doesn't scorch as much with it as he does with the ss. But - keep in mind that our stainless steel is not very good (I don't think it has that "triply" construction) and, our smoothtop electric cooktop was really difficult to cook on, period. So I don't want to rule out stainless steel altogether. But, when I do a search on the pros and cons of ss versus, say, cast iron or aluminum, the one consistent pro for ss is that it can be put in the dishwasher. We have 6 people in the family and lots of dishes everyday, so I never put the pots and pans in the dw; they will most certainly get handwashed. So, is there another pro to stainless steel? Another note - we have a bluestar rnb in our new kitchen - 22 btu's on the high burner - but ss is supposed to be used with relatively low heat, correct? However, bluestar sells a line of ss triply, so it must be okay. Of course, I know the heat doesn't have to be turned all the way up. But for stir frying, I was thinking a cast iron wok would be best, because then you would certainly be using high heat. So, I'm thinking a cast iron wok for stir fry, a plain jane non-stik fry pan for eggs, my regular old pasta pot will be fine for boiling noodles, and so I'd just like to fill in the gaps with a few covered stockpots/skillets/saucepans and I need to figure out what , if any, is the advantage of stainless steel over calphalon commercial, other than dw safe. I know calphalon commercial is discontinued but it is available at amazon.com or ebay. If I decide to go with stainless, I'm leaning toward the tramontina triply; the price is decent and the reviews are great. I'd appreciate any opinions/comments. thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: besides dw safe, what are the pros of stainess steel?

You're right not to think of a 'set' of cookware; consider the tasks you want to accomplish, and go from there.

Stainless by itself is a lousy conductor, which is why most stainless cookware has something else on the bottom (copper or aluminum) to do the conduction, with an outer skin of stainless.

Before going any further, read the admittedly long article at the link; it'll tell you more than any sane person needs to know about cookware, and you can make your choices more intelligently. If you retain but 10% of the info, you'll be better informed than 90% of cookware salespersons.

BTW, I have a Tramontina multicooker (stockpot, pasta and steamer insert) and it is a good deal for the price.

Most woks are made of carbon steel. They need to be seasoned like cast iron, and to do true stir fry they need to be very hot. Your bluestar should do just fine with that.

Here are a few items I wouldn't like to be without in my kitchen:

A cast iron skillet or two. There are lots of threads in this forum and other web sites on the care and feeding of cast iron. For all its drawbacks, cast iron can sear meat better than any other material.

An enameled cast iron casserole or two. For long slow braising they can't be beat. Get sizes appropriate for your family.

A stainless steel pressure cooker. I have a Kuhn Rikon 6 qt stockpot; works great, though for your size family you might want to consider the 8 qt size. Fagor makes a very good set with an 8 qt stockpot and a 4 qt saute pan and a pressure lid to fit them both, for around $100 or so. (It's called the 'Fagor Splendid Multi Set'.) I've cooked with that set. Very good buy for the $$$ and the pots don't HAVE to be used as pressure cookers; they work fine as a stockpot and saute pan. If you are cooking for a bunch, you'd be amazed at how quickly pressure cookers can deliver the goods for making really tasty comfort foods like chili or stew or pot roast in a fraction of the time. Get a book by Lorna Sass, the pressure cookery guru, or go over to missvickie.com for more pressure cooking tips.

Here is a link that might be useful: understanding stovetop cookware


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RE: besides dw safe, what are the pros of stainess steel?

Arley pretty well said it....
The advantage of a clad bottomed stainless stock pot is it's non-reactive and you can cook a big pot of tomato soup or sauce without worrying about a metallic taste.
My recommendations are a couple of aluminum non stick fry pans for eggs and the like. I like Meyer Commercail. Can't beat cast iron....and a skillet of the size for high heat searing 9or pan frying is good.
Then you will need a couple of covered sauce pans, like a 1 1/2 qt and a 2 qt....for boiling eggs and cooking a few veggies ro a small amount of pasta.
I couldn't live without a Le Cruset Dutch oven...or 2.
And then the big stock pot for soup, and boiling a large amount of pasta or corn. I like a clad bottom....and you don't have to spend a fortune...I think an 11 qt it better than something smaller.
Stainless really isn't very good for frying.
Linda C


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