Originally Posted by Schmoozer
I like to make stock, broth, and soup, and am fussy about technique and ingredients. I need a new stock pot and have looked at a few that might be suitable. They are all single gauge pots. However, I am on a fixed income, and don't have a lot of disposable income at this point, so if I can save some money I'm all for it.
What advantage does a single gauge pot have over a disk bottomed pot, assuming both are of good quality and materials? Apart from a couple of small items, all my cookware is single gauge, and I'm quite happy with the way they cook. Will I notice any difference between a single gauge and a disk bottom stock pot, and if so, what might that difference be?
FWIW, I'm not too interested in brand recommendations specifically, but more interested in the technical and practical advantages and disadvantages of the two types of construction. Thanks!
A thin sheet metal pot (I 'm assuming that's what you're talking about when you say "single gauge") tends to warp on the bottom and not sit flat on the heating element if you have an electric stove. This means that things take longer to cook and it will have hot spots where food tends to burn. This isn't much of an issue if you're mostly doing thin liquids like broth, however if you plan on doing anything that involves sauteing or sweating veggies, a really thin pot might be a problem.
It's also much less of a problem with gas, since there is no contact surface needed for heat transfer with the stove burner.
The disk bottoms, if done properly, stay flat for more even heating and are made out of metal(s) that have appropriately selected thermal transfer characteristics (heat up quickly, without hot spots) . The disk bottoms work quite well on tall narrow stock pots where most of the heating happens on the bottom, however they don't work as well for saute pans and anything with sloping sides, since the place where the disk stops and the sides start tends to get too hot and will burn food if you're not careful.
The other type of construction, which you didn't mention but will probably run into is "fully-clad". All-clad, some Tramontina and others make cookware that's typically stainless on the inside, aluminum in the middle and copper or stainelss on the outside. These work really well for just about everything, but are phenomenally expensive if you're thinking about a large stockpot.
If you get lucky, every now and then Sam's Club has a tall "pasta pot" from Tramontina that works really well and runs about $40, including the lid and a pasta insert which you should probably just throw out or use for a planter. Other than that, if you have patience you can find great deals at garage sales and often pick up really nice used pots for $15-$20. If you have a little courage, you can reduce the cost to "$0" by asking friends and relatives. Most have pots they don't use anymore and would be happy to give one good home.