Stainless vs. Aluminum/Flame vs. Induction; Not A Contest

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by redbeerd cantu, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    St. Philip's College Culinary Arts (AAS, Cum Laude), International Kitchens
         About 11 years ago, my wife and I purchased our first cooking set together. With no other reason than "you get what you pay for" we bought a set of Kitchen Aid stainless steel, not realizing that there was a world of difference between cooking on non-stick cheap stuff and cooking on heavy-bottomed stainless.  Needless to say, there was a sharp learning curve of weeks before we figured out how to stop burning, chafing, and undercooking all of our food.

         Last year, in my first semester of culinary school, our lab consisted of aluminum restaurant-grade hardware, and we cooked on induction tops, nonetheless.  All the comfort in the kitchen was just about drained immediately.  When I would go home to practice what I'd learned in class, none of the times or heat intensity translated well at all, and my practice plates began to result in the same product that my wife and I were producing after purchasing our first stainless steel set!

         My question is, is there a standard material/heat intensity conversion rule of thumb when it comes to this?  For instance, if I'm in class, on an induction top on high heat-say, for searing-with aluminum wares, when I go home to practice, how would I adjust the flame at home for stainless steel? 

         Thx!

    RedBeerd
     
  2. ordo

    ordo

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    May be you need an infrared thermometer to check pans and pots bottom and sides temperatures.

    But why is your culinary school using aluminium on induction stoves?
     
  3. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    >>is there a standard material/heat intensity conversion rule of thumb when it comes to this?
    technically possible, I suppose.  but would be outdated every couple weeks simply because "all stainless" is not the same nor is "all aluminum" - and every couple weeks one manufacturer or another introduces a "new improved better than anything in history" line which is not yet in the data matrix.....

    >>When I would go home to practice what I'd learned in class, none of the times or heat intensity translated well at all
    actually, a very good thing that you've learned this lesson immediately, right up close and personal.

    perhaps you've heard the phrase:  a good craftsman does not blame his tools.
    applies in the kitchen.  as you have learned, every pan, every pot, every stove, every burner will cook differently.

    not long ago there was a home cook posting around thinking that the hash marks on a gas stove knob must mean _some_ specific temperature, must be according to some 'standard' - looking for a 'translation' of knobs with two marks between numbers vs one mark between numbers - etc., etc. - no, it doesn't work that way.

    one has to learn the sights and sounds of "how stuff is cooking" - I would include "the smells" - but iffin' it get to "is something burning?" bit, could be a smidgen late.

    use your ears.  I can tell with my back turned to the cooktop if the bacon / eggs / steak / ground beef / mushrooms / fish / (pretty much:  you name it) is cooking/frying/sauting too hot or not hot enough.  there is a "sound of sizzle" - the sound of sizzle for a salmon patty is not the same as the sound of sizzle for polenta slice / bacon / etc.  pan fried chicken, oil half way up the pcs - different sound than sweating down onions.....  but, the sound of sizzle for a steak in a flat bottom pan is different from the sound of sizzle of a steak in a ridged bottom pan.....

    otoh - reducing a panful of tomato / liquid / "something" is a question of watching the bubble bubble toil & trouble visual appearance of the sauce / liquid in the pan.  if you can hear a roux sizzling, might be a problem there . . . .

    so - observe the sights and sounds, pay attention to details.  then you can adjust the heat / burner to saute a fish patty in a cast iron pan or a paper thin waterless fry pan and _still_ get it done right.  it's an 'experience' thing - and you likely will eat a lot of mistakes in the process of learning . . .
     
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  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Are you certain you're cooking with aluminum pans on induction cooktops?

    My suspicion is that the aluminum pans are actually iron or steel clad in aluminum as, to the best of my knowledge, induction cooktops require ferromagnetic (magnetic) materials to function correctly.
     
     
  5. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    St. Philip's College Culinary Arts (AAS, Cum Laude), International Kitchens
    Good point. we use the stainless on the induction. sorry for that. What I meant was that I noticed that we had the aluminum hardware and flame stoves there, but we used the stainless on induction.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  6. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    My lack of restaurant experience has me nervous should any of my job interviews be one where he/she tells me to go into the kitchen and cook up something, and I've never used aluminum before...I know HOW, but my performance will fail. 

    I'm guessing that I should go ahead and invest in an aluminum set for home and start using strictly those?

    Thank you for the response.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I think you'll find that the majority of commercial kitchens will use aluminum cookware and gas stoves. 

    The only reason for this is that both are cheap.  I hate aluminum cookware for a number of reasons, but I can't argue the fact the every employer I've worked for in N. America uses aluminum and gas stoves.

    "Dillbert" is spot on in his post.  You have to use your eyes, ears, and nose.  You can tell when oil is heated to just about at it's smoking point, you just have to look for the signs.  While one restaurant might have a new-ish range that pumps out 32,000 BTU's per burner, the next restaurant might have a relic of a range putting out a paltry 17,500 BTU's per burner.   
     
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