How to measure the performance of the stovetop pots and pans


Am I looking for the ratio of burnt dishes to fine dishes? Well-cooked to not? My general happiness? When should I replace a pot or pan? I am unsure where to begin.

Best Answer

I second Joe's advice.

Your pans may be too thin, that would make your dishes burn easily. You can test your pans with a simple experiment. Place a thin layer of water in your pan (an eighth of an inch, or just enough to cover the bottom). Turn on your burner to high. If you have an electric stovetop let the burner glow before placing the pan on the burner. Watch how the bubbles form in the pan. If they are uneven over the bottom, you have hot spots.

This photo is actually uneven heating from the burner, not from a bad pan, but it shows the idea:

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you have hot spots.

If your pans have hot spots you need to stir more often and maybe lower the heat from what the recipe calls. Pans with thicker bottoms and made with good electric conductors (copper or aluminum) have fewer hot spots.

Then there is what I call the Remick Maxim. Three years ago when I decided I would learn to cook better, I went through many cookbooks and asked a lot of people for advice. A great friend (a French restaurant level cook) told me the best advice he ever got was from the actress Lee Remick, a good cook herself. She said: “the secret to great food is to cook it in low heat.” Best advice I got on cooking.