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Stock pot question - reactivity?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking about getting a new stock pot, as my 8qt. pot isn't producing enough volume for me to justify the time I spend making stock.  I'm thinking about getting either a 12 or 16 qt. pot, and I was wondering what size would be more appropriate - I do worry a little about whether or not my stove is putting out enough heat to simmer a 16qt. pot.

My greater worry, though, is about reactivity.  My current pot is an off-brand tri-ply with stainless steel lining, but I was thinking about going with plain aluminum (because that's about all I can afford).  If I go with aluminum, I can pick up an America's Best 16qt. 3mm-thick Al stockpot for under $40.  I am, however, concerned.  I've seen many recipes for brown stocks and fish stocks that call for acidic ingredients such as tomato paste or wine.  Would I be asking for trouble preparing these recipes in an unlined aluminum pot, or should I just stop worrying and go with it?

Thanks in advance!
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
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RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
post #2 of 14
I asked that same question here a while ago and I was recommended to get a stainless steel stock pot, not aluminum. Since then I tasted a stock that was made in an aluminum pot by a friend, and guess what: it tasted like aluminum. Well I don't know what aluminum tastes like, but you could clearly detect the taste of metal at least - to the point that he had to throw away the whole batch of stock he just made.

So yeah, don't get aluminum, get stainless steel.

I wouldn't worry about your stovetop, simmering doesn't require much heat even for a 16 qt pot, it might just take longer to reach the boiling point, which for stocks is rather a good thing.

So yeah, get the 16 qt.
post #3 of 14
There's really no two ways about it. Avoid aluminum stock pots like the plague. You're much better off saving a little longer and getting something nonreactive.

If stainless is out of reach for you, consider enamaled steel. Much cheaper. And so long as the coating remains intact there is no problem with reactivity.

Re: Simmering 16 quarts. That's really not all that big a pot, even for a home stove. Canning kettles are typically 22-24 quarts, for instance, and nobody has problems bringing them up to a boil.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info!  I was afraid that this was the answer.  Can you recommend some of the brands I ought to be looking at?  All-Clad is cool and all, but way outside of my price range, and Cuisinart doesn't seem to offer a 16 qt pot.  I found a Vollrath pot that seems reasonably priced, and I've heard this name around - is this something I should be aiming for?
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
post #5 of 14
Been years since I bought one, so much of my knowledge is out of date. However, of the brands you mentioned:

All-Clad, even if it was affordible, has the worst customer service in the industry, and I, for one, wouldn't touch anything made by them. Add in the ridiculous prices and I don't understand the fascination so many cooks have for their stuff.

Vollrath is usually available through restaurant supply houses. It's a very good brand for the money, and you'd be hard to find anything better in your price range.

I've never used any Cuisinart cookware, so have no opinion pro or con.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by HungryStudent View Post

I'm thinking about getting a new stock pot, as my 8qt. pot isn't producing enough volume for me to justify the time I spend making stock.  I'm thinking about getting either a 12 or 16 qt. pot, and I was wondering what size would be more appropriate - I do worry a little about whether or not my stove is putting out enough heat to simmer a 16qt. pot.

My greater worry, though, is about reactivity.  My current pot is an off-brand tri-ply with stainless steel lining, but I was thinking about going with plain aluminum (because that's about all I can afford).  If I go with aluminum, I can pick up an America's Best 16qt. 3mm-thick Al stockpot for under $40.  I am, however, concerned.  I've seen many recipes for brown stocks and fish stocks that call for acidic ingredients such as tomato paste or wine.  Would I be asking for trouble preparing these recipes in an unlined aluminum pot, or should I just stop worrying and go with it?

Thanks in advance!


Tramontina makes a nice tall pasta/stock pot. It's all stainless, but not compeltely clad (has a hockey-puck disk on the bottom). You should be able to find it for around $40-$50.

Terry
post #7 of 14

Terry, to you know the specs on that pot? IIRC, the Tramontina pasta pot is only 8 quarts. Or maybe 12? Either way, it's smaller than the OP is looking for.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 14

I faced this same issue a few years ago. I really wanted a 20+ qt stock pot. A stainless steel pot in that price range was way too high. But I decided that it was better to get the largest stainless pot that I could afford, rather than a larger aluminum pot.

 

First, you don't need a pot that is fully clad; i.e. has a layer of aluminum or copper that runs all of the way up the sides of the pot. For a stock pot, you really just want a thick aluminum or copper disk on the bottom of the pot. You'll notice that the fully clad pots are significantly more expensive than the ones with a disk bottom. For example, Metro Kitchen has the All-Clad 12qt pot with a disk bottom for $149 (and it comes with a steamer insert and a pasta insert). The fully clad 12qt pot is $365.

 

I happen to find that disk-bottom pot and two inserts on sale for about $100 and bought it. It is a little smaller than what I wanted. I wanted something closer to 20qt, but 16qt would have been sufficient. But this was a good deal and I decided to get it. At the time, I thought I might also buy a cheap 20qt aluminum pot for making simple stocks that wouldn't have reactive ingredients, but haven't gotten around to doing that.

 

Second, Vollrath is a great brand. I have some of their fry pans. More generally, I don't think you need to go with the absolute best brand for a stock pot (unless you happen to use it a lot!). I'd spend my money on a really good saute pan, for example, but aim for a lower-market stock pot, like many of those you mentioned. I wouldn't buy an All-Clad unless you came across a great deal.

 

post #9 of 14

Darren, just out of curiosity, what kind of stocks are you making that use reactive ingredients in enough quantities to make a difference?

 

I'm not big on aluminum, myself, and won't use if for day to day cookware. But seems to me that a stainless stockpot is a very expensive affectation.

 

If aluminum really is a concern, consider enamaled steel (often called granite ware). It's lightweight, does the job, and is very affordible.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 14

The dish that had me worried was making a big pot of tomato sauce. I wasn't sure if a pot of tomatoes would generate an off taste in an aluminum pot, or not, but I figured it was better to avoid the issue than to buy an aluminum pot just to find out.

 

I have a granite ware pot that I use for canning. Although the bottom is thin and isn't ideal for browning, it could do as a stock pot for someone who wanted to really save money.

post #11 of 14

Stainless instead of aluminum by all means.

 

As to a disk bottom -- It's nice if you're planning on doing a lot of browning in the pot before adding liquid, or if you think you're going to have the heat cranked all the way up a lot (the disk helps prevent warping), but otherwise the disk isn't necessary. 

 

As to a multi-ply stock pot -- just spending money for no reason. 

 

If you don't have a convenient restaurant supply, then just a plain pot from Amazon, Target or Wal-Mart that's just heavy enough to not be flimsy.  Don't waste a lot of time shopping for "the best."  It doesn't exist.

 

Something like this would be great. So would something like this.

 

You spend significantly less for one of the "flimsy" pots -- like less than $30 -- and it won't hurt you much.  The thing about stock pots is that you're heating a bunch of liquid which distributes the heat and prevents the pan from overheating in spots.  It's different from a pan you use to sear or saute.  You might like the way cheap feels, but it works pretty well.

 

You should also have a reasonably high quality 10 qt (or so) pasta set (and I gather you do).  That will cover those things that don't start with a lot of liquid and which need the heat cranked.  But again, no need for a full on multi-ply.  An "encapsulated" or disk bottom will be just fine. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/15/10 at 6:21pm
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren72 View Post

The dish that had me worried was making a big pot of tomato sauce. I wasn't sure if a pot of tomatoes would generate an off taste in an aluminum pot, or not, but I figured it was better to avoid the issue than to buy an aluminum pot just to find out.

 

I have a granite ware pot that I use for canning. Although the bottom is thin and isn't ideal for browning, it could do as a stock pot for someone who wanted to really save money.

As a rule I wont use thin bottom pots for tomatoes or chowders as if they catch it will taint to the the point of being unusable, not so with good pots...just have to wash them myself

 

Stocks are not a problem as BDL pointed out they're mostly water....we do 5 different ones so the usual issues are having enough, big enough ones so as not to overcrowd them, here cheap is good.

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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post #13 of 14

I swear by the Tramontina 24-quart pro.  I have five of them, and I've burnt jam in them, dropped them onto our concrete floor, and scoured them for 7 years.  And they still look like the day I bought them.  Plus, the tri ply base gives you a better insurance against scorching a thick sauce.

post #14 of 14

Oops!  Aaaand, the Tramontina pro runs about $150. 

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