Brilliant invention, the non-stick pan it is easy to clean and ideal for low-fat or even no-fat cooking. But that’s not enough for us at the Good Housekeeping Institute. We wanted to know which ones are really slippery to food yet tough enough to stand up to the knocks and stresses of daily use – and, of course, which pans are a positive pleasure to cook with.
As a result, our testing kitchen has been a hothouse of frying, boiling, simmering and baking – on gas, sealed plate and ceramic hobs, and (where appropriate) induction hobs and in the oven – as well as washing up and high-powered scrubbing. We subjected 10 ranges of nonstick pans (a 14cm or 16cm milk pan, an 18cm lidded saucepan and a 24cm, 26cm or 28cm frying pan) to a battery of tests de cuisine. The result of all this slaving over hot stoves? Sixty-two pancakes, 62 fried eggs, 12kg of mince and onions, 7kg of caramel, 14 litres of white sauce – and the answer to our questions.
Most pans turned out to be good at releasing food cleanly, regardless of which type of non-stick coating they have. However, some did better than others in our toughest slipperiness test – which involves making and pouring out caramel syrup. All the saucepans needed soaking in hot water to remove caramel stuck to the sides, but the Jamie Oliver, Judge Vista, SKK and Viners Techtonic required least effort to clean it off.
Arguably it’s the frying pan – typically the biggest investment – that sets the most difficult non-stick challenge, however. So we fried eggs using just a wipe of oil to check for sticking and burning, then assessed evenness of browning by cooking pancakes with no oil at all. The pancake test also demonstrated how much easier it was to lift food out of shallow pans with rounded bases.
The SKK was good, as was the Jamie Oliver with its curved top edge, followed by the Stellar. Good results when the pans are new aren’t the whole story, though. How long does the non-stick surface stay stuck to the pan? To simulate long-term wear and tear, we use a special machine to scrub the frying pans several hundred times each with a scouring pad, washing-up liquid and water. At regular intervals in the process, we check whether a pancake will stick to the worn area. The £44 Jamie Oliver and £74 SKK pans emerge as the most wear-resistant, but there’s little to choose between the £30 Jonelle, £22 Judge Vista, £25 Stellar, £15 Tefal Specifics and £55 Viners Techtonic, which survived almost as well.
There’s nothing like being trapped in the kitchen with a load of pans to make you appreciate how heavy or light, comfortable or awkward they are to cook with – and our indefatigable testers’ ease-of-use assessments are taken into account in reaching the final score for each range of pans. (Full article at this site)