A saucepan is a deep pan with a long handle and a lid that serves a wide variety of cooking needs. Saucepans are the right option for preparing grilled cheese sandwiches, stir-fry chicken, mac and cheese and even spaghetti sauce.
Choosing the right option for you involves considering the various materials, coatings and sizes available. Here is what you need to know to choose the best option for your needs.
Aluminum — aluminum is a lightweight metal with surprising strength and impressive heat conductivity. Most aluminum pans will be coated with enamel or reinforced with steel. Many also feature a non-stick coating on the inside of the pan that makes cooking much easier and prevents scratching and sticking. You will even find harder anodized aluminum pans which have increased durability. Aluminum saucepans should not be used for heating acidic foods as they have the tendency to react to the acids and can carry flavors from one recipe to another.
Cast iron — cast iron pan take much longer to heat up and are especially heavy. But they are the best choice for achieving even cooking for foods that need more exact temperatures. Cast iron pans will retain heat so managing your fire will be something to consider. Cast iron must be properly seasoned before use. This creates a patina that functions as a non-stick coating that makes the cast iron pan especially desirable for kitchen use.
Copper — copper is a beautiful metal that has excellent heat conductivity and great durability. Because copper is also sensitive to acidic foods, most of these pans are lined with steel interiors. If your copper saucepan is not lined with steel or enamel, it may be a decorative item and best buffed, polished and hung on the wall.
Hard-anodized aluminum — hard-anodized aluminum is dark gray and has been electro-chemically treated to make this metal more durable and less sensitive to acids. For this reason, anodized aluminum saucepans are more reliable than regular aluminum saucepans. Additionally, they are also especially good at conducting heat and lighter than a cast iron pan.
Stainless steel — stainless steel pans are the last word when it comes to running a functional high-pressure kitchen and are favored in most professional kitchens internationally. Stainless steel has a tendency to be especially sticky at high temperatures. But, contrary to popular opinion, stainless steel pans can also be seasoned like a cast iron pan, although the method used is a little different. Seasoning your stainless-steel saucepans will avoid the need for excessive oils that can be unhealthy. A good stainless-steel pan will often have a layer of aluminum or copper built into the base to spread the heat more evenly across the surface of the pan. This will remove the problem with “hot spots.”
Enamel — enamel coatings are made of a variety of minerals that are fused to the surface of a saucepan for protection. Enamel coated saucepans will not spit or platter, and do not react to foods with time. But they must be treated with care so as not to ruin the structural integrity of the surface. Always choose a thick enamel coating as these last longer, although they may produce issues with heat conductivity. Furthermore, enamel on thin saucepans is a poor choice. The thin metal has a tendency to warp and deteriorate the enamel coating.
Non-stick — non-stick coatings are a great way to preserve your cookware and enjoy healthy eating. Because you will not need as much oil to keep your food from sticking and burning, you will enjoy healthier eating. Non-stick coatings can be applied to just about every type of saucepan materials including aluminum, steel and even cast iron pans. While there are many pans that offer non-stick coating the very best options feature Teflon or Silverstone coatings. These options will even come with a guarantee. Be sure to preserve the longevity of your non-stick coatings by using wood or plastic utensils and cleaning your saucepans with extreme care.
Size and weight — finally, choose the right size and weight for your kitchen. The smallest pans have a diameter of 14cm and are barely suitable for single-person cooking. The number of people you will service and the size and complexity of your recipes may call for a larger pan. Also make sure the weight is easy for you to manage. This will make cooking easier and save you from accidents.