If you’ve ever bought a pan or a set of pans, you’ll have noticed that prices can vary quite dramatically. It can be tempting to opt for cheap pans, especially if they’re made by a brand you’re familiar with – but be careful. The fact is not all pans are created equal. So how to do you know which one to choose? Well, a good start is to understand how top-quality pans are made.
There are 3 main manufacturing processes – stamping, forging and die casting. Stamped pans tend to be cheaper but weaker – they won’t last as long. Forged pans are a step up and will last you longer. But by far your best bet are die cast pans. Yes, they’re a bit more expensive, but as the saying goes, you’re paying for quality.
What is die cast cookware?
Die cast cookware is made by forcing molten metal into a pan-shaped ‘die’ – a type of mould. The main advantage is it gives you a much stronger pan, which doesn’t lose shape. But that’s not all. Die casting allows pan manufacturers to create pans of different thicknesses. A thicker bottomed die cast pan will take longer to heat up but will retain heat better, giving you more control in the kitchen.
You can make die cast iron pans and die cast steel pans. But in our view, to get the best value for money, you should look into die cast aluminium pans.
Die cast aluminium pans give you great heat retention – with less heft
A good quality, thick-bottomed die cast aluminium pan is great for all sorts of cooking. Unlike cheaper materials, aluminium offers excellent heat retention. With cheap pans, you’ll find that they heat up ok, but when you chuck in your meat, fish or vegetables for frying, the heat reduces dramatically, making it hard to perfectly sear whatever you’re cooking. Whereas, with a die cast aluminium pan, once the pan heats up, it stays hot, much like a more expensive cast iron pan. But there are two big differences.
Cast iron cookware is notoriously heavy, whereas die cast aluminium cookware is relatively lightweight. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that aluminium is weak. In fact, die cast aluminium pans are extremely durable. Not only will die cast pans last you for years they’ll resist scratching too. They’re just not as heavy as cast iron pans, so you don’t feel you need to build up your arm muscles before you can lift them from the pan drawer to the cooker top.
Die cast cookware heats up fast and cools down quick
Another downside of cast iron cookware is that it takes a while to heat up. That’s not the case with die cast aluminium pans though. One of the things people love about die cast aluminium pans is that they heat up pretty speedily, meaning you’re ready to sear or stir-fry in seconds rather than minutes. But here’s the really clever bit – die cast cookware also cools quickly too. As soon as you shut off the heat source, your die cast aluminium pan starts to cool and in no time at all will be cool enough to pop in the sink, ready to be washed up.
Cast iron cookware is good quality but needs a lot of love
Cast iron cookware is certainly good quality and can potentially last you for many years. However, it comes at a cost. Firstly, it’s prohibitively expensive for a lot of people. But not just that, it can also take up a lot of your time maintaining it. For example, some cast iron pans need ‘seasoning’ in order to stay non-stick and to stop rusting. This is a time-consuming process which involves heating oil in the pan until smoking-hot, then wiping it out, leaving the pan to cool then repeating the process.
By contrast, die cast aluminium cooking pots usually come with a non-stick coating. Obviously, this makes life easy, not just when you’re cooking, but when you’re serving too. There’s something quite satisfying about whipping up a quick omelette, say, then being able to turn it out straight onto the plate. Non-stick pans are easier to clean, too, sometimes needing little more than a rinse and a wipe to retain their non-stickiness.
You can also put die cast pans into the dishwasher, which makes life a lot easier than having to a scrub a dirty cast iron pan clean by hand.
Introducing FlavorCast – the new ‘do everything’ die cast pan
If you’re shopping around for quality die cast cookware that offers great value for money, check out the FlavorCast pan. It’s a brand new pan that combines the lightweight yet durable properties of die cast aluminium, with the famously strong non-stick coating made popular by the FlavorStone pans.
What you get is a pan that not only retains heat but distributes it evenly without hotspots. So, you have the same kind of cooking control you’d expect from a far more expensive cast iron pan, but for a fraction of the price. Plus, because it’s coated in the FlavorStone non-stick surface, you can be sure that whatever you cook will not stick to the pan. It’s easy to cook with, easy to clean and easy to store, thanks to its clever conical design.
Find out more about the new FlavorCast pan die cast pan here.