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Disappointed in my Paula Deen 12 Qt Stock Pots...


Porthos
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I acquired two 12 qt Paula Deen enamel on steel stock pots the past year. (I believe that it's enamel and not porcelain but I'm not sure). They were different colors purchased at different stores several months apart so I have to figure they were from different lots. I bought them for a specific purpose - to make soups.

I am part of a renaissance faire guild and my DW and I run the kitchen that feeds our own people but not the public. This is on weekends only. We have a feast at lunchtime. Later we make a couple of soups for members of our group to eat after faire closes for the day. I have a super volunteer who actually prepares the soups.

I put these pots into service in early April and was initially pleased with my choice. However, the sixth weekend of using them saw the enamel start coming off of the inside bottom of one of the pots. On the seventh weekend the other pot started losing its enamel. I was really disappointed.

Here's where I think it may be my own fault. We do the soup making on 30K BTU burners. I'm thinking that maybe these pots just couldn't take the heat, although I have another stock pot of the same construction but different brand that has lasted several seasons.

For the time being I'm going to stick with the stainless steel (and one enamel on steel) pots I have but I will want to replace the stock pots that failed eventually. So I'm looking for opinions and insights to help me make future purchasing decisions. Are 30K BTU burners too much for enamel on steel or did I just get questionable quality cookware?

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Different ceramics - glazes, enamels, glasses etc., everything from flowerpots to windows and ceramic cutlery, made from fused sands and clays and the like, have different rates of expansion and contraction when subjected to changing temperatures. One possible source for your material failure: an enamel must match the surface it surrounds expansion wise so that as the base material grows and shrinks with temperature change, so does the enamel - at the same rate, or there will be a tendency for deterioration. Ceramics are brittle, so cracking and chipping are possible failure modes.

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Ceramic over thin carbon steel is just about the cheapest pan construction there is, and it is not unusual for there to be chipping due to uneven rates of expansion and contraction.

--

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Nobody has mentioned it -- if you're cooking soup on a portable propane burner, the only tool for the job is a thick-bottomed stainless steel pot.

You're with a Ren fair, so ask one of the home brewers or home mead makers (I guarantee there's at least one around) for recommendations.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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If I were doing soups outdoors over propane, I'd use a heat diffuser and aluminum stock pots. Alumnium pots are cheap, lightweight, easy to clean....you run a small risk of scorching, since you have a high-output burner, but that's why the heat diffuser is important. You can buy various diffusers, but I use a simple circle cut out of 3/8" plate steel. It is indestructible, & once it heats up, it will retain heat for quite some time, so you can reduce your propane consumption and still keep the liquids at a food-safe temp.

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Long ago my Danish grandmother (the best cook I've ever known) told me that if the enamel started coming off a pot to throw the pot away. This due to if a piece of enamel got in one's stomach, or intestine, it could do significant damage because of the sharp edges.

I don't know if this is true, but I've always kept it in mind and never used again a pot that began losing its enamel. But, I haven't used enameled steel pots in many, many years. :smile:

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Alumnium pots are cheap, lightweight, easy to clean....

I disagree -- even though tomatoes aren't "period," enough of them find their way into Ren Faire fare to warrant spending the extra dosh for stainless.

Or find a friend with a plasma cutter and turn a 1/2 barrel beer keg into an ideal stock pot.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Alumnium pots are cheap, lightweight, easy to clean....

I disagree -- even though tomatoes aren't "period," enough of them find their way into Ren Faire fare to warrant spending the extra dosh for stainless.

Or find a friend with a plasma cutter and turn a 1/2 barrel beer keg into an ideal stock pot.

The soup we make for after faire closes is not period.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Ceramic over thin carbon steel is just about the cheapest pan construction there is, and it is not unusual for there to be chipping due to uneven rates of expansion and contraction.

But it is also not unusual for these pots to last decades without chipping or only minor chips that don't seem to signal complete demise. I think you are over-generalizing.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Does anyone have any idea of how to figure out where to email a complaint to whoever manufactured these particular pots?

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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I've had my fair share of stock pots crap out on me. The worst, to date, was a Wal-Mart Mainstays brand pot. Terrible heat distribution. The best I've had was a simple Vollrath standard weight 12qt pot. It works well with gas and electric and I even used it camping over a raging fire (only once!). You can get them at most restaurant supply stores like zesco.com. I'm sure Paula owns one too, but merchandising is where the money is =)

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I'll be going to my favorite restaurant supply house next week just to check things out. Definitely going back to stainless steel.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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I'll be going to my favorite restaurant supply house next week just to check things out. Definitely going back to stainless steel.

After the sticker shock, find the local homebrewer in your group. I'll bet dollars to ducats that he/she knows someone with a plasma cutter who cuts the tops off stainless steel kegs. You can't ask for a better pot when you want to make soup for 50 people at a fair. It even has easy-grip handles.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I'll be going to my favorite restaurant supply house next week just to check things out. Definitely going back to stainless steel.

After the sticker shock, find the local homebrewer in your group. I'll bet dollars to ducats that he/she knows someone with a plasma cutter who cuts the tops off stainless steel kegs. You can't ask for a better pot when you want to make soup for 50 people at a fair. It even has easy-grip handles.

Interesting idea but I'm afraid they would be way to large. From 12 quarts to half a keg is a pretty big leap.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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