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Shel_B

Buying Sheet Pans

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It's time to get one or two new sheet pans, actually, half sheet pans. Over the years I've used them irregularly, and used whatever was handy - good pans, poor quality pans, non-stick, and those made from various materials. However, these pans will be the first that I've actually purchased. So, what do I look for? What materials are out there besides aluminum in its various incarnations: non-stick, anodized, plain? Are stainless steel pans available? How well/poorly might they make? Is the material really important? After all, the pans will often pre-heat in the oven, or remain in the oven a fair amount of time, so they'll have ample time to reach temperature, and often times the pan really isn't used for cooking so much as to just hold the food tems. Am I missing something here?

The most frequent use will be for roasting vegetables and bones, rarely, if ever, for making cookies and baked goods, but that's always a possibility. Does any one material excel at these tasks?

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Lincoln Wearever, acquired by Vollrath. Either of these brands is an excellent choice at an excellent price.

Click.

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If you have a restaurant supply store handy, you can usually get good ones for cheap. The standard ones are simple; aluminum with a heavy wire in the rim. The only differences are in weight. Heavier is better and a bit more expensive. The lincolns and volraths that Mitch mentions are among the heavy ones, but there are others (mostly no-name) that are as heavy. Ones that cost $15 to $20 at the fancy kitchen store typically cost half that at the restaurant store. And if you're lucky, you can get used ones for next to nothing. They'll probably be well beaten and ravaged by commercial dishwashers, but perfectly functional in the oven.

I have some lincoln sheet pans (and no name equivalents). I also have a few Chicago Metallic pans. These are aluminized steel, which conducts a bit more slowly. Generally i use them interchangeably, but for some things that I want to brown less on the bottom, I'll grab the steel pans. I also have a stack of battered, used sheet pans picked up for $2 a pop. I use half sheet pans for practically everything, so I'll pick up more cheap ones whenever I see them.

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I don't have anything to add to Paul's good advice, except to suggest that while you're at the restaurant supply store, pick up a few quarter pans, as well as racks for both sizes (make sure the racks fit before leaving the store; you'd think the standard size of sheet pans would be reflected in a similar way for racks, but it's not). Maybe it's just because I'm usually cooking for one or two, but I use the quarters at least as often as the halves: for pre-salting meats, roasting small amounts of vegetables or (with a rack) game hens, as holding trays for burgers.

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I'll echo the suggestions for restaurant supply stores as your source for good sheet pans. I'll also second Dave's recommendation on picking up quarter sheet pans. They are very useful for all sorts of things.

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Cheap unfinished aluminum sheet pans are the way to go. There's little benefit to anything more expensive. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat, and for precision pastry work you're likely to be lining the pan with a Silpat anyway. I have four of these:

http://bigtray.com/advance-tabco-sheet-pan-18-8a-13-sku-adv188a13-c-14810.html

They are workhorses and it's hard to think of how they could be improved.

I'll echo Dave's advice about having racks that fit the pans. I like his idea of having some quarter-sheet pans. If I'd thought of that maybe I'd have bought two and two, since I've never used more than two of my half-sheet pans at once. I also have Silpats (Exopats, actually) for my half-sheet pans.

My oven can actually accommodate a three-quarter sheet pan. I think some day I may get a couple of those. There are the occasional times when I wish I had a little more surface area.

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I'll echo the suggestions for restaurant supply stores as your source for good sheet pans. I'll also second Dave's recommendation on picking up quarter sheet pans. They are very useful for all sorts of things.

Couldn't live without my 1/4 sheet pans - so many uses and they fit in the fridge easily. Depending on what I plan on using them for I line them either with foil or parchment paper.

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3/4 sheet pans are the main pan in my place. I've purchased probably about 20 aluminum ones at a local restaurant supply, and use them in my chocolate work. I use 3/4 sheet sized parchment and have a couple of speed racks to put them on. I've never been able to find a genuine silpat that fits the 3/4 size however. There are apparently other brands of silicone liners like the silpat in that size, but I haven't picked any up yet.

The 3/4 pans fit nicely in my Dacor wall oven.

I also have some 1/2 sheet pans that I've accumulated over the years - various materials and finishes - handy for a variety of purposes from baking to storing the remains of a roasted turkey in the fridge.

I have one full sheet pan - useful for putting under various things while working - but it's just a tiny bit too small to go under my guitar and prevent the little trimmings from hitting the floor. I do have a box of full sheet sized parchment - bought in error - all big boxes of parchment look the same to me.

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I'm not good with metric. Is 530 x 325 mm right for a 3/4 sheet pan? If so I know there's an Exopat in that size. Exopats are functionally so similar to Silpats that a couple of professionals I know consider the brands interchangeable.

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I'm not good with metric. Is 530 x 325 mm right for a 3/4 sheet pan? If so I know there's an Exopat in that size. Exopats are functionally so similar to Silpats that a couple of professionals I know consider the brands interchangeable.

Sounds about right. Apparently one of the places I'm going to hit in Montreal in May carries them - we'll see if I remember to get them.

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I've never heard of a 3/4 sheet pan, and I'm trying to make sense of them. Could we see some linked examples?

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A standard 3/4 sheet pan is 15x21", which fits in many 30" residential range ovens and really utilizes the space efficiently. A standard full sheet is 18x26", which won't fit in a typical non-commercial oven.

Here's an example:

http://bakeryequipment.com/Bakery-Equipment/productDetail.asp?ProductID=15933

That price is for a dozen of them. Don't be alarmed.

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I bought a couple of half sheet pans at Sam's Club--very heavy, plain old aluminum, cheap.

That's where I bought mine. They were NSF rated to boot. I'm big into NSF for my home kitchen when I can get it. In general they seem to clean up easier.

I mostly use them for cookies and pizzas. I think it is well worth the money to purchase pre-cut parchment paper to use with them.

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I will definitely be on the lookout for the 1/8 th sheet pans which would work great in my small Cuisinart Brick Oven. I had no idea they even existed.

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This thread has really come to the foreground with me in the last two days, in conjunction with the silicone mat thread. I realized that my pans are old as the hills, rusty, unreliable...probably unsafe...ready for the garbage after up to 50 years of (mis)use and it is time to buy some new ones!

Thanks to you all for the information. :smile:

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Where does one buy 1/8th sheet pans? I have been searching the internet to no avail..........

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What does 'NSF rated' mean?

Check out this link

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What does 'NSF rated' mean?

I know that Anna gave you a link to look at. Here in California you have to use things approved by the NSF in commercial food operations. I do volunteer cooking in the spring (see my blog) that doesn't fall under commercial food operations but I have found that cookware that has the NSF approval tends to clean up easier than many items meant for the home kitchen. That's the major reason I mentioned it. I have NSF approved sheet pans along with a lot of other NSF cookware in my home kitchen also.

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What's the optimal relationship between pan size and oven size? Is there a need to worry about leaving space for air circulation on the sides, and does it matter if you have a convection oven? I have an oven large enough for full sheets but they'd fill the entire width--and I didn't know about 3/4 sheets, so I've stuck with my 1/2 sheets.

Heavy, plain aluminum from the restaurant supply store is the way to go, regardless.

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What's the optimal relationship between pan size and oven size? Is there a need to worry about leaving space for air circulation on the sides, and does it matter if you have a convection oven? I have an oven large enough for full sheets but they'd fill the entire width--and I didn't know about 3/4 sheets, so I've stuck with my 1/2 sheets.

Heavy, plain aluminum from the restaurant supply store is the way to go, regardless.

Can't give you a source for this but it's been in my head for decades - there should be no less than 1" of space between the baking vessel and the oven walls to ensure proper air/heat circulation. Can't say if it applies to convection ovens.

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