Gas stoves can be tricky for almost as many reasons as they are awesome. Heat is relegated to a very small area with a gas stove, and the heat-up time is rapid (this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon your skill). Gas is best to use as long as you have the right cookware, and know how to use it. For example, you can create a controlled pan fire for a dish like bananas foster, unlike an electric stove where you have to light the food with a long match or a lighter. You can also turn off a gas stove and it will just be “off,” unlike electric which can take time to cool down. And on the flip side, you get a fast heat-up that you just don’t get with electric. However, there are some safety concerns with using a gas stove. Because it heats up so fast, you have greater potential for your pans to warp slightly if they’re not thick and not designed to handle that level of heat (at a chemical level). That is why the type of pan that you use with a gas stove is so very important.
Before identifying the best pans for use on a gas stove, let’s talk about what you absolutely shouldn’t use. Teflon has recently been proven to be a health hazard after prolonged use. The chemicals in Teflon break down under high heat and/or the use of abrasive cleaning utensils. DuPont, the company that invented Teflon, actually recommends never heating their coating beyond 500 degrees Fahrenheit. That may seem like a lot, but it actually happens all the time to our pans (any time we leave the pan on a burner without food in it for more than a few minutes, it will heat to this temperature if left on high). DuPont also says to never use abrasive materials (even the scratchy green part of a sponge) on their Teflon products. Why? Because the Teflon coating will start to chip away after only a few years, leaving a chemical component in your food that is nearly undetectable, but which is carcinogenic. Avoid Teflon-coated cookware at all costs, if you can help it, but especially when cooking on gas stoves.
Beyond just the issue of Teflon, what else should you look for when purchasing a pan for a gas stove? There are two main items to watch out for: thickness and liners. A pan that is too thin will transfer the extreme heat of the burners to the single points on your pan, giving you a major hotspot and a lot of cool spots. Regarding layers, if they are designed well, a 3 or 5-ply pot or pan will be ideal. However, anything with an outside made of carbon steel or cast iron, and an inside made of ceramic or Teflon will start to unbind.
So what CAN you use on a gas stove? Use cast iron – it rocks. Cast iron has been used for over 2500 years, starting in the 5thcentury BC. The amazing thing about cast iron is that even if it is not taken care of it lasts for a very long time. But, if it IS taken care of it can last long enough to be handed down from generation to generation. Also, because of the way the iron works, it will pick up the seasonings from one meal to the next, and one person to the next. On top of that, you can put it full in the oven, use it with high heat, and even use it over a campfire.
The source of all this amazingness is the same thing that makes it perfect for gas stoves: it has a heavy bottom that distributes heat evenly and well. The cost of such a wonderful piece of cookware is three-fold. First, it can’t be cleaned like normal, and needs to be seasoned with salt. It can’t go in a dishwasher, and really shouldn’t have any soap touch it: simply using a towel to wipe it down after a meal is sufficient for cleaning. Second: it is very heavy, almost too heavy to use for some people. You usually need to handle it with two hands, and the lack of grip covers means you need to use oven mitts. Finally, it can take a long time to heat up, and then can overheat very easily. Basically, you need to practice with it repeatedly to figure out what how best to manage your cast iron when cooking. Despite it’s technicalities, we highly recommend the use of cast iron for a gas stove. After reviewing the top-rated cast iron pieces on the market, it is our firm belief that Le Creuset cast iron cookware is the best buy for chefs today.
Le Creuset cast iron cookware is arguably one of the more expensive cookware sets available, but has so many great benefits. First, the sets come with paint schemes to fit any kitchen (if there’s a color you want, they have it), and the cast iron is very, very high quality. Heat distribution is as expected with cast iron: all-encompassing and effective. Some Le Creuset pieces do have a ceramic lining, so be on the lookout for that, but overall the products come from a well-regarded company with an incredible reputation for high quality, and this 16-piece set does not disappoint.
Lodge offers cast iron at its most pure and most authentic. This is the cast iron pan you think of when you think of pioneers traveling forth in their covered wagons. This is the cast iron pan in which Grandma used to cook you dinners. This is cast iron at its most quintessential. Lodge offers good quality, tried-and-true cast iron products at a reasonable price point, plain and simple. Lodge isn’t “chic” like Le Creuset is: you won’t be seeing any fun or fresh colors with your Lodge cast iron sets. And on that note, Lodge doesn’t really offer “sets:” for the most part, you buy Lodge cast iron one product at a time. But know that every time you buy a Lodge cast iron pan, it’s a good purchase.
Bruntmor is not a household name like Le Creuset or Lodge is. It is perhaps for this reason (and no other), that the Bruntmor comes in third. It’s cast iron is effective (though not as thick and sturdy as either Le Creuset or Lodge), and even comes in a nifty wooden crate for added aesthetic. For the price point and for all that’s included in this 7-piece set, there’s nothing wrong with choosing Bruntmor. But, lacking the reputation of both Le Creuset and Lodge, it is an appropriate third choice, and sadly nothing more.
It’s important to note here that you don’t absolutely HAVE to use cast iron on your gas stove. Stainless steel is also a fine option. But what won’t stainless steel do as well as cast iron? Well, it won’t distribute heat as evenly. Gas stoves heat very quickly, and stainless steel will heat quickly in stride: cast iron won’t be quite as abrupt. And stainless steels lacks the truly authentic feel that cast iron retains (be it Lodge, Le Creuset, or Bruntmor). So while it’s not absolutely necessary to choose cast iron for your gas stove cooking, we feel that it’s a better option. And among your cast iron options, choose Le Creuset for a truly hearty and chic cooking experience.
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