Types: Cooking pots and pans include standard fry pans, sauté pans, sauce pans and stockpots. Special-purpose pots and pans include shallow crepe pans, oval fry pans, rectangular pans, paella pans, stir-fry pans, woks and double boilers. Generally, pans have one handle, while pots have two.
Capacities/Footprints: Sauce pans come in sizes as small as 1 qt. or as large as 11 1/2 qts. Fry pans range in size from 7” to 20” in diameter, while sauté pans most often are used in sizes from 8” to 12” in diameter. Commercial sauce pots and stockpots can hold as little as 5 qts. or as much as 14 qts.
Manufacturing Method: Pots and pans will be made from a variety of materials, depending on their primary applications. Cast-iron and carbon steel pans are extremely durable, but are also heavy, need seasoning and can rust. Still, they conduct heat evenly and maintain high temperatures due to their density. Aluminum, perhaps the most popular material for pots and pans, is lightweight and conducts heat extremely well; however, it reacts with acidic foods and can stain or become pitted. Aluminum alloys help prevent dents in pots and pans. Stainless steel is durable and non-reactive, but may not conduct heat evenly. Tin- or stainless-steel-lined copper pots are durable and considered to be the best conductor of heat, but are heavy and expensive. To combine the best qualities of all the available metals, some stainless-steel pots and pans have an aluminum or copper-ply bottom core to ensure even heat distribution without the disadvantages of aluminum or expense of copper.
Standard Features: Riveted or spot-welded handles and radiused corners are available for easier cleaning.
New Features/Technology/Options: Double-thick rims are now an option and retain their shape more effectively for a better cover fit, while double-thick bottoms resist denting. Pots with wider diameters and lower sides provide greater surface area for preparing soups, stews and sauces. Mirror and enamel finishes are primarily available for use at exhibition cooking stations.
Key Kitchen Applications: Preparing meats, vegetables, soups, sauces and other foods that require heat or a heated liquid in which to cook.
Purchasing Guidelines: Pots and pans take a tremendous amount of abuse in kitchens. For this reason, operators should consider more durable items, such as those made of anodized aluminum or stainless steel. Beware of products that have a larger number of rivets, which can heat food unevenly as a result.
There has been some recent concern about the use of nonstick coating on pots and pans, such as Teflon ®. Studies show that the byproduct of that product, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), causes cancer in rats and has the potential to be a human carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, has said there is no reason to stop using the nonstick products at this time. Still, DuPont — the maker of Teflon ® — and seven other companies, which include 3M, Dykon, Teva and Clarion, have committed to stop producing products with PFOAs by 2010 as part of an EPA initiative to reduce the potentially toxic substance.
Maintenance Requirements: Most aluminum, stainless-steel or metal-alloy pots and pans, as well as those with nonstick interiors, only need to be washed. However, black steel, cast-iron, or carbon steel cookware may require a light coating of oil after washing to prevent oxidation.
Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: By using the correct size and shape of pot or pan, cooks can ensure that foods pass quickly through unsafe temperature zones and reach their correct taste and texture safely.