Fry Pans: The Ultimate Purchase Guide
Life is like a cooking pan. If you fry, sear, or sauté something good, you will enjoy the taste. But, if your frying pans are not good, how will you make something even worthy of tasting? We have all faced the everlasting cookware dilemma of which frypan to buy, and how to recognize it, so here are a few guidelines to help you in this quest.
When it comes to quality-made pans and their construction, there are three essential aspects you need to pay attention to: material, cladding and handle.
Consider the Basic Material Options
It is of essential importance, and here you can choose from so many: stainless steel, aluminium, cast iron, carbon steel … But which one is the best? Knowing that most of the frying pans today are made of stainless steel and aluminium, we’ll compare their basic traits to give you the right picture.
A bit heavier but durable stainless fry pans are virtually indestructible and don’t scratch or dent easily. Although stainless steel is a material that doesn’t heat that quickly, it’s great for its heat-retention. Shiny and attractive, it possesses the non-reactive cooking surface which means you will never get a strange, metallic taste in, or an awful, grey nuance to your meal.
This is the reason why most of the cookware items on the market today are made of this steel-chromium (or nickel) combination. It doesn’t pit or scratch easily and, when cladded with other heat conductive materials, creates the most versatile and useful pieces of cookware.
Aluminium conducts heat quickly and evenly, and it’s lightweight. But if taken as a pure metal, in contact with the food it releases metallic flavour, grey colour and toxic particles into it. To avoid this negative trait, it has to be coated with non-stick materials, anodized or cladded with stainless steel. It is not so durable, and a little knock and it’s dented all over.
Focus on Heat Retention and Distribution
When it comes to cookware, these are maybe the most important characteristics. For example, pure stainless steel frypan designs would retain the heat, look great, but it takes time for them to heat up or cool down. On the other hand, pure aluminium pans heat quickly and evenly, are easy to hold, but don’t retain the heat.
So, how do we get a perfect pan with quick and even heating, great heat retention and safe cooking surface? The answer is in the cladding, a process of layering different materials one upon the other until you get a pan with the best characteristics of all the different materials. All top-quality pans are made this way and they can be:
This means that the whole pan is from the same layered material, bottom and sides, and these are expensive, that’s for sure. But you get a top-quality piece of cookware that will heat fast and evenly, retain the heat and serve you for a very long time. This is the best possible construction on the market and definitely worthy to invest in.
These have an aluminium disc inserted in the bottom of the pan which provides quick and even heating. Not so expensive as fully-clad, they are a good step up compared to no clad at all, and if you can’t afford any better, bottom clad stainless fry pans will still do a decent job.
Pick the Handle: Riveted, not Welded
Experienced chefs claim that a riveted handle is better than a spot welded one because it has better chances to stay on the pan. Plus, stainless steel frying pans handles are the best because you can put the whole pan in the oven and finish the cooking easier and without the complications of transferring the content into other pots and adding extra dishes to the washing-up pile.
Avoid Nooks and Crannies
A small, but very practical and time-saving advice: don’t buy too ornate pans. They might look beautiful, but it’s time-consuming to clean all the grease that will fill up the nooks and crannies. Even the lovers of intricate designs will agree that, when it comes to the kitchen, not scrubbing the dishes for hours is the highest aesthetic point of all.
Look For the Sales
We must admit that stainless steel frying pans can be a bit pricey, but they are absolutely worthy to invest in. So, be practical. If you don’t have the budget of a Michelin five-star restaurant for fully clad pieces from brands like All-Clad or Mauviel, you can still find excellent top-quality pans by Misen or Tramontina. Plus, with all these sales and discounts, especially around holiday seasons, as a savvy shopper, you can dig into real treasures.
Do the Non-Stick Treatment
The seasoning that is applied to the iron cast skillets can also be performed for the stainless frypans. Preheat your pan for a few minutes, take a high smoke point oil and splash it around the pan. When it starts to smoke, throw the oil away and rub the pan out with a paper towel. Polish until it’s glossy, and when you get the perfect mirror look, it’s done. This will make your pan non-stick and easy to clean up.