It seems like the pandemic has led to many people becoming more active in the kitchen. the lack of restaurants and the sheer expense of ordering out every night – and a dedication to enjoying healthier meals have led to an explosion in the number of home chefs. This in turn has led to many upgrading their cookware – and a renewed interest in the types of frying pans that are available. However, choosing the best frying pan for your needs can be a tricky business, there are so many choices.
In order to make that choice a little easier here are some of the factors that should be taken into account when making your next frying pan purchase.
One of primary considerations should be the material used in the manufacture of the frying pan provides a hugely varied cooking experience. For many people, the experience of cooking with uncoated aluminum frying pans has been less than satisfactory. They are lightweight and heat up extremely quickly – but that heat is unevenly distributed – and that can mean continually repositioning the food that is being cooked and an unevenly cooked final product. They also do not react well to acids which can be produced when using ingredients like lemons or even tomatoes and that can lead to degradation of the cooking surface.
Non-stick coated frying pans are a better choice. They reduce the amount of oil that is required to avoid the ingredients sticking to the surface of the pan and are ideal for making dishes such as omelets and fish. However, they do have a downside in that they have to be cleaned extremely carefully – and usually by hand. Metal utensils are also not an option when using these pans as they will scratch the non-stick surface. However, they are also extremely lightweight, heat up quickly, and offer excellent value for money. Ceramic coated pans offer many of the same advantages and do not use potentially harmful man-made chemical coatings, however, they are best suited for low heat preparations. Hard-anodized aluminum pans are also non-stick – but are ideal for high heat cooking as they do not rely on a coating.
Many home cooks will opt for stainless steel pans. These are slow to heat and for this reason, the best option might be a pan with several layers such as copper or aluminum sandwiched between the stainless steel outer layer. They are great for searing meat and are not significantly heavier than higher gauge aluminum options. These pans are also incredibly tough, rust, and scratch-resistant and are dishwasher safe. On the downside food tends to stick to these pans easily, meaning that generous amounts of oil need to be used.
If there is one material that should find its way into every home kitchen in the form of a frying pan it is cast iron. This material is probably the toughest used in the manufacture of frying pans. Drop a stainless steel or aluminum pan and you can expect dents or at the very least scratches. This is simply not the case with cast iron. They are also great at distributing heat evenly and for this reason, it’s simple to get that even, attractive seer on almost any protein. As a bonus, they can be transferred from stovetop to oven (at least those without wooden handles). The downside -they’re heavy and they require care. However with proper care, these are pans that can be passed down generations – and they don’t cost as much as one might think.
Another option that boasts many of the advantages of cast iron pans is carbon steel. They just don’t retain heat as effectively as cast iron. Meaning that they heat quickly, but will also cool extremely quickly. They’re also lighter than cast iron and can rust easily.
Other factors to consider include the depth of the frying pan bottom which should be as deep or thin as one requires, given the heaviness of the pan. One way to judge this is the gauge. The higher the gauge the thinner the bottom of your pan will be. But remember a higher gauge will lead to heating problems. Also, consider the handle attachment. Rivets are good – but require frequent cleaning lest you get bacterial buildup. Non- riveted pans can also offer exceptional value but they are not as robust as those which are riveted. Also, consider the material that the pan handle is made from. Wood is great – but you will not be able to transfer the pan from stovetop to oven.
Do some research and you will end up with the pan that is perfect for your unique needs – and you will enjoy an investment that will give you simple joy in the kitchen – and that gives simple joy.