Whether you want to boil pasta, cook rice, or prepare your favorite sauce, saucepans are pivotal in making things convenient in the kitchen. This versatile piece of cookware can cook a variety of dishes – thanks to its unique design. Keep reading to learn more about its many useful features.
Saucepans and their Usage
What Makes a Saucepan Different from Other Pans?
A saucepan typically comes in a circular shape with a flat bottom, high sides (unlike a frying pan), and an insulated handle. Its design allows for a larger surface area to evenly cook or heat the food, especially during roasting. The long handle lets you move it without worrying about touching the hot body. Most of these come with a lid that makes them great for braising, simmering, and boiling.
What Can You Make in a Saucepan?
Saucepans are great for preparing recipes that require a lot of water or liquid like soups, stews, sauces, and pasta. The liquid or sauce inside heats evenly which is a crucial feature needed for such recipes. Due to its depth, you can also use it for deep frying, cooking grains, lentils, and also for full meals.
Although a saucepan is great for cooking a variety of recipes, choosing a healthy and non-stick pan that perfectly meets your needs is important. Keep reading to learn about the features to look for when buying a new saucepan.
What to Look for When Buying a Saucepan
It is a good idea to find a saucepan that is sturdy and ergonomically designed to suit your needs. The walls should be tall enough so it can cook a reasonable quantity of food. It should have a long handle with good grip so it can bear the weight of the saucepan when it is full of food. It should support the heat source that best suits your needs: a gas stove, an electric or glass cooktop, or an induction hotplate. But what about healthy meal cooking? Keep reading to learn more about a saucepan factor that determines the health value of your resulting meals.
The Raw Material
The most crucial thing to look for when choosing a saucepan is the material it is made from. You will find a variety of materials used in making the cookware, like stainless steel, copper, cast iron, aluminum, hard anodized metals, non-stick coating/Teflon, ceramic, and so on. The kind of material it is made from ultimately decides the health value of your cooked food. Here are some pros and cons of different material components of saucepans:
Stainless Steel Pans:
Stainless steel is the one of the most popular materials that saucepans are made of. It corrodes slowly, cleans easily, and appears pristine and smooth. When it comes to conducting heat, it may not be the best choice given its uneven heat distribution via conduction, but is enough to get the job done. Stainless steel is mainly an alloy of iron and carbon, with added chromium, nickel, molybdenum, titanium, niobium, manganese, and other metals to give it corrosion resistance and mechanical properties. All metals are innately reactive, and all these metals leach and contaminate food when heated through cooking.
Cast Iron Pans:
Cast iron is the first metal people started using for making cookware. It is a great conductor of heat, decreasing cooking time. However, the heat distribution is not very even, which may cause food to heat up quickly and stick to the bottom if not stirred constantly in them. Cast iron pans can also corrode, which makes their cleaning and maintenance a daunting task.
A cast iron pan is especially not recommended for cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes, which are a common ingredient in most recipes. Cooking anything acidic loosens metal molecules and increases the risk of leaching.
Copper is also a good conductor of heat but like iron, it is not very good for distributing heat evenly. Although it does not corrode as much as cast iron, it loses luster frequently and needs to be cleaned with specific soaps that are toxic. Moreover, copper is an expensive metal, meaning it is not as affordable. It is also likely to leach and contaminate food like the other metal materials.
Unlike copper, aluminum comes very cheap, but this soft metal comes with many health risks. Eating food contaminated with aluminum toxins is known to cause brain diseases and hamper growth of infants.
To avoid leaching, hard anodized aluminum is a somewhat better option, in which the outer layer acts as a barrier between the core material and food. Despite this barrier, it is not a reliable way to put off the risk of leaching, because even a single scratch or dent can allow Aluminum to leach, and the outer layer may also wear off with use. Moreover, the outer layer may leach less than aluminum, but it is not 100% safe itself.
Non-Stick Coated/Teflon Pans:
Non-stick saucepans and frying pans are great when it comes to preventing food from sticking. However, when heated, PTFE (the material this non-stick coating is made of, also known as Teflon), releases toxic fumes that can contaminate your food. Also, Teflon, like other metals, is reactive and leaches – at least 10 times more when heated. Non-stick pans are also expensive – why would you want to pay so much for a pan that can release dangerous chemicals into your food?
To learn more about non-stick pans and their health effects, check out this article!
Ceramic is low quality clay (secondary or tertiary) glazed with different materials that make it shiny and colorful. It is not as expensive, and the additives increase its durability. But the impurities in clay have metal oxides and the glazes may also contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Therefore, it is not the best core material or coating material for a frying pan or saucepan.
All These Raw Materials Have a Leaching Problem!
To sum up, a saucepan made from any metal has one major drawback – toxins leaching into food, among other pros and cons. This means none of these end up being perfect, so one needs to diligently inspect different aspects of a cookware (and the extent of its leaching), before choosing one that best suits their needs. If you are particularly concerned about health and want a saucepan that offers all the benefits without compromising on health, then it is better to look for an alternative to metal saucepans. Keep reading to discover the best alternative.
MEC – The Perfect Saucepan in Disguise
MEC stands for Miriam’s Earthen Cookware – a US-based cookware brand known for making pots and pans made from lab tested primary clay without additives. They offer pans in two sizes – 1.25 quart and 2.5 quart that make excellent saucepans because of many features.
Unlike metal utensils or cookware, MEC’s primary clay pots and pans are naturally inert so they cannot leach even when heated, so it is 100% non-toxic. Moreover, these pans become naturally non-stick after a few uses without a non-stick coating – thanks to the unique hand-finishing. Although dishwasher safe, these are easy to clean with hands using just water and baking soda.
MEC cooks with unique far infrared heat that spreads throughout the pan, penetrates deep into food and cooks food evenly and thoroughly without burning it. This gentle heat cooking requires low heat and preserves delicate but essential nutrients. Therefore, food cooks more flavorful and aromatic.
The walls are tall enough to handle reasonable quantity of food (like sauce making) and the slightly rounded bottom design allows for better heat transmission to the food, especially when the quantity is less (sautéing or stir-frying).
MEC pans come with an ergonomically designed lid that allows for excellent steam management by naturally condensing steam on the inside of the lid, thereby preserving water soluble nutrients.
Lastly, the semi-porous breathable walls allow for supply of sufficient oxygen during cooking even though the lid is on. This gives your sauces a great texture and your grains cook moist and fluffy, naturally!
All these features give MEC’s healthy and naturally non-stick pans the ability to cook different kinds of recipes besides the ones you can cook in a conventional saucepan. You can use an MEC pot or pan as a Dutch Oven, Soup & Stews Pot, Pressure Cooker, Rice & Grains Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Vegetable Steamer, Slow Cooker, Bread Baker and much more. A single pan is capable of making entire meals!
Ready to buy a unique MEC pan that can be much more than just a saucepan in your kitchen? Head over to MEC’s online store and order a pan today!
People Also Ask:
What makes a high quality pan?
You need to consider these things while choosing a high quality healthy non-stick pan:
- It should be made from a high-grade inert material that conducts heat well. An inert or non-reactive material doesn’t leach and contaminate food while cooking.
- It should be durable and ergonomically designed – a lid to keep steam locked inside, a sturdy and long enough handle firmly bolted (shouldn’t become loose with use) if metal, a heavy base for even heat distribution (also prevents burning of food) and tall walls to allow for liquids to come to a boil.
- Food must not stick to the bottom even when it is not constantly stirred.
- It should be versatile so can be used on different heat sources and can cook a variety of recipes.