Friday, April 22, 2011

Sauce Pans:

Yesterday I mentioned that you needed at least one sauce pan to get by in cooking.  I also said that most cookware sets come with 2 pans.  I actually have three pans.  My set came with the usual two.  But I added a double boiler to give me more flexibility in my kitchen.  The double boiler came with a steamer insert, too.  I now have 2 pans in which to steam food items if the occasion requires.  But let's get back to the other sauce pans first.

1 1/2 qt. sauce pan

Typically you want to have a small sauce pan with a capacity of at least 1 quart and no bigger than 2 quart.  Your second sauce pan should then be at least 2 quarts and up to 3 quarts in size.  I really like my 1 1/2 and 3 quart pans.  They seem to handle all my needs until I get to making soups and other large batch recipes.  You need to remember that the size stated for the pan is if it is filled to the rim.  So that 1 1/2 pan of mine is good for anything from a cup to a full quart of product without making a mess.  It's hard to stir something that is all the way up to the rim and not have a disaster.

3 qt. sauce pan w/steamer insert

If you look at a recipe and it seems like the pan is going to be to full, move up to your next size pan.  Another thing to consider is time.  There are times when it makes sense to use the 3 qt. pan with a small recipe.  The larger pan usually has a wider base which covers more of the burner on your stove top.  That wider base makes something like a white sauce heat a little quicker for you.  Remember that every one's life is different and there are times you need to make adjustments to your cooking.  Sometimes it is because of time and other times it is because of ingredients.  Just adjust as your life requires and enjoy what you're doing.

double boiler w/steamer insert
A double boiler pan was mentioned before and I'm sure some of you are wondering what it is and how it works.  The typical double boiler has 2 pans and a lid.  Mine has that plus the steamer insert.  Probably the most common use for a double boiler is to melt chocolate or other items.  You do this by placing a small amount of water in the bottom pan and then placing the second pan into or on the bottom pan.  The pans are made so you can do this and it is obvious which pan is the bottom and which is the insert.  You can see the grooves in the insert pans so they fit properly in the bottom pan.  What happens is the water is heated to a boil and for this example the chocolate is placed in the insert pan.  The chocolate will melt in this pan without burning.  If you didn't use this method the and only used a single pan the chocolate would most likely burn.  Now you can melt chocolate in the microwave but the double boiler is a better way to do it in my opinion.

How many, what sizes and what material your equipment is made from are only questions that you can answer.  You have to make decisions on what is best for your desired life style and budget.  Have fun with your decisions and don't let them stress you out.  Life is too short not to enjoy.

On the next blog, stove tops will be the topic of discussion.

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