Not all frying pans are the same thing. A frying pan is a frying pan, of course. And they are always used for the same purpose. True. But there are many differences between a good frying pan and a not so good frying pan. Price ranges can guide you a little bit, but sometimes we don’t discover we have chosen the wrong one until we use it at home. If you don’t want this to happen again, the best solution is learning about how to distinguish between the good and the bad ones before buying them. You don’t need a master, just follow these easy rules!
The quality of a frying pan is mainly determined by manufacturing materials and procedures. The most common materials are stainless steel, iron and aluminium. This post is only focused in aluminium cookware, but click here if you want to learn more about other materials.
You may think there can’t be quite a difference between each aluminium manufacturing procedure because at the end the result is the same: an aluminium pan. But there is a lot.
The three main manufacturing procedures
The three main manufacturing procedures are: stamping, forge and die casting. Knowing the names is cool and maybe you can use this information to win the Trivial Pursuit someday, but here the important thing is to know the differences between them, so let’s go for it!
Stamping is the process of placing flat sheet metal in either blank or coil form into a stamping press where a tool and die surface forms the metal into a net shape. The press produces the desired pan form on the sheet metal part. This is the easiest process and also the cheapest one. Consequently, stamping pans are the ones you will be able to buy at a lower price in stores. “Great, I’ll take this one!” Yes, you can buy this one, of course, but there’s an issue you must take in consideration: when aluminium gets hot, it tends to go back to the original shape which, in this case, is a plane surface. This means the cooking vessel will lose contact with the cooking surface shortly before buying it, thus food will not cook evenly. This, together with they usually come with low quality cheap non-stick coating, means stamped pans have a really short useful service.
Forged aluminium pans manufacturing process is very similar to stamping but the metal is heated. This allows using a thicker and more resistant metal sheet which reduces vessel deformation when cooking. Although these pans are more expensive than the first ones, it’s worth paying a little bit more as they practically don’t lose shape; they are longer lasting and cook better than stamped aluminium pans.
The last manufacturing process is die casting. It is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mould cavity which has the desired pan shape. This is the most expensive one, but also the best as it avoids pan from losing shape because “pan” is the original shape. You may think it is not necessary to spend so much money in a pan. If forged aluminium pans are resistant, durable, reasonably priced and cook fine, why should I need more? Well, it depends on your needs. Die casting allows working with different aluminium thicknesses, which contributes to better heat distribution and even cooking results. Finishing and details are also better because die casting procedure offers more design possibilities. Cast aluminium pans are also the ones with better non-stick coatings to avoid food from sticking on the cooking surface.
How can I distinguish them in stores?
Stamped aluminium pans are really easy to distinguish. A really low priced pan is a stamped pan for sure. But to be sure, take the pan, touch it and balance it. Is it very light and thin? Then it’s stamping.
Forge and die casting processes are more difficult to distinguish for non-expert eyes because weight can be similar. Maybe the best is to look at the packaging because manufacturers always write in big font size you are looking at a cast aluminium pan. Yes, it’s a not very scientific detection method, but it’s very effective.
Now it’s your choice! Maybe you still prefer having a stamped aluminium pan because you don’t use it a lot. But as far as you like cooking, we recommend you to spend a little bit more to buy a cast aluminium pan or even a forged one.
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INSTRUCTION MANUALS ARE BORING. I NEVER READ THEM. ALUMINIUM COOKWARE CARE SECRETS.
THE FRYING PAN HISTORY