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Caldero Cast Aluminum Pots - Anyone familiar with them?


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I am seriously thinking of trying to sell my Le Creuset pots.  They have to live in the attic and are so heavy that I have a hard time using them with my bad hands.  With them in the attic, I hardly ever even think to use them.  One of them is a HUGE stock pot (not cast iron) that I cannot lift when it is full.  I keep noticing the cast aluminum caldero pots in the Latino section of supermarkets.  They seem to come in lots of sizes and are very light and cheap.  I love my old Silverstone cast aluminum and wonder if the caldero pots are comparable to those.  Thanks!

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1 minute ago, Kim Shook said:

I am seriously thinking of trying to sell my Le Creuset pots.  They have to live in the attic and are so heavy that I have a hard time using them with my bad hands.  With them in the attic, I hardly ever even think to use them.  One of them is a HUGE stock pot (not cast iron) that I cannot lift when it is full.  I keep noticing the cast aluminum caldero pots in the Latino section of supermarkets.  They seem to come in lots of sizes and are very light and cheap.  I love my old Silverstone cast aluminum and wonder if the caldero pots are comparable to those.  Thanks!

 

Yes, they're comparable.  Even the thickest ones are far lighter than ECI.  In my opinion, the only downside (and it is somewhat overblown) is reactivity over long cooktimes with salty, acidic foods.  Do you make much tomato sauce and sauerkraut? 

 

I sold the vast majority of my Le Creuset when I realized they're poor performers for most things.  I didn't get much for them, which is Exhibit A for my stupidity in buying it all in the first place.  French + Pretty + Expensive + MtH (Marketed to the Heavens) must be good, right?

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Just two days ago I was marveling at the low prices for huge aluminum stockpots at my local supermarket.  I spent a small fortune for my 18 quart Sitram stainless steel.  Ashamed to say so far I've used it twice.  Some of those aluminum pots went much larger and cost a song.  Thing is, I don't think I'd use them once.

 

I have a battery of Le Creuset (though nothing that looks like a stockpot??).  My biggest Le Creuset is too heavy and never gets used.  Or hasn't in some years.  However I can't imagine in my worst nightmares using either aluminum or cast iron for a stockpot.  I love my two smaller Le Creuset Dutch ovens.

 

What are you cooking?  For boiling water for pasta* I use an old, frightfully inexpensive thin gauge Italian stainless steel pot that I've had for decades and use essentially every day for one thing or another.  On the other hand for making stock my recommendation would be to get a real stockpot with a thick aluminum or copper disc bottom.

 

 

Disclaimer:  I don't have an attic.

 

* as I am doing as we speak.

 

 

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11 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Just two days ago I was marveling at the low prices for huge aluminum stockpots at my local supermarket.  I spent a small fortune for my 18 quart Sitram stainless steel.  Ashamed to say so far I've used it twice.  Some of those aluminum pots went much larger and cost a song.  Thing is, I don't think I'd use them once.

 

I have a battery of Le Creuset (though nothing that looks like a stockpot??).  My biggest Le Creuset is too heavy and never gets used.  Or hasn't in some years.  However I can't imagine in my worst nightmares using either aluminum or cast iron for a stockpot.  I love my two smaller Le Creuset Dutch ovens.

 

What are you cooking?  For boiling water for pasta* I use an old, frightfully inexpensive thin gauge Italian stainless steel pot that I've had for decades and use essentially every day for one thing or another.  On the other hand for making stock my recommendation would be to get a real stockpot with a thick aluminum or copper disc bottom.

 

 

Disclaimer:  I don't have an attic.

 

* as I am doing as we speak.

 

 

I have two Dutch ovens that get a LOT of use.  One is an old Club aluminum and the other is a non-stick Calphalon.  They suit my day to day purposes just fine.  I also have a really good stockpot and a super cheap huge one that I almost never need to use.  The reason I'm thinking of buying the caldero pot is for when I need something really large for things like the gravy I made yesterday.  

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Another question has occurred to me.  I started cooking with my grandmother's cast aluminum many years ago.  Certainly before I knew about any problem with acidic foods and aluminum.  I just realized that I routinely cook spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup with tomatoes and chili in this pot.  Am I slowly killing myself and my family????  

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24 minutes ago, Kim Shook said:

Another question has occurred to me.  I started cooking with my grandmother's cast aluminum many years ago.  Certainly before I knew about any problem with acidic foods and aluminum.  I just realized that I routinely cook spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup with tomatoes and chili in this pot.  Am I slowly killing myself and my family????  

 

LOL, no, of course not.  IMO, there isn't a health concern, no matter what you cook or or how long.  The concerns are taste and color, and I don't even credit those very much.  Can 80% of restaurants worldwide be wrong?

 

Let's take a peek down the rabbithole, shall we?  Aluminum has a semi-unique property whereby it (and its alloys used in bare cookware) doesn't stay bare.  It oxidizes or "passivates" very quickly in the presence of oxygen.  How quickly?  About the time it takes for you to wash, dry and put away your pan.  What you're actually cooking on is  aluminum oxide, which is harder and less reactive than pure aluminum.  You can think of aluminum pans as being self-healing.  That's all hard anodizing is, BTW, except that HA creates a much thicker oxide layer.  Aluminum's astonishingly fast oxidation is the reason why there is virtually no metallic aluminum to be found in nature, despite the fact that it's the third most common element on Earth.   

Edited by boilsover (log)
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20 minutes ago, boilsover said:

 

LOL, no, of course not.  IMO, there isn't a health concern, no matter what you cook or or how long.  The concerns are taste and color, and I don't even credit those very much.  Can 80% of restaurants worldwide be wrong?

 

Let's take a peek down the rabbithole, shall we?  Aluminum has a semi-unique property whereby it (and its alloys used in bare cookware) doesn't stay bare.  It oxidizes or "passivates" very quickly in the presence of oxygen.  How quickly?  About the time it takes for you to wash, dry and put away your pan.  What you're actually cooking on is  aluminum oxide, which is harder and less reactive than pure aluminum.  You can think of aluminum pans as being self-healing.  That's all hard anodizing is, BTW, except that HA creates a much thicker oxide layer.  Aluminum's astonishingly fast oxidation is the reason why there is virtually no metallic aluminum to be found in nature, despite the fact that it's the third most common element on Earth.   

 

Thank you so much!  I didn't know all the science stuff, but I figured that if 3 generations of women had cooked sauce, soup and chili in that pot, we were probably safe!  😊

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1 hour ago, Kim Shook said:

Thank you so much!  I didn't know all the science stuff, but I figured that if 3 generations of women had cooked sauce, soup and chili in that pot, we were probably safe!  😊

 

YVW.  Really, unless you can comfortably lift thick copper, thick aluminum really can't be beat in terms of thermal performance, and is the undisputed champ for value.  But why sell you a $20 pot when a maker can talk you into forking over $200 or $400?

 

And did you know you can also "season" aluminum pans?

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6 minutes ago, boilsover said:

 

And did you know you can also "season" aluminum pans?

I didn't.  I assume that mine is already seasoned by years of use.  I looked online and found lots of varied information about seasoning, but they were referring to "aluminum" and I couldn't tell if they were talking about CAST aluminum or just plain aluminum pans.  Advice??

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1 hour ago, Kim Shook said:

I didn't.  I assume that mine is already seasoned by years of use.  I looked online and found lots of varied information about seasoning, but they were referring to "aluminum" and I couldn't tell if they were talking about CAST aluminum or just plain aluminum pans.  Advice??

 

Well, I learned this from a book written by the "Omelet King", Chef Rudy Stanish.  See, http://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2008/02/12/Obituary-Rudolph-B-Stanish-Omelet-king-for-the-rich-and-famous/stories/200802120223  It's not seasoning in the same sense as people talk about for cast iron and carbon steel, and doesn't last as long.  It doesn't leave any discernible layer of polymerized oil, either.

 

Here's how I was taught.  Pick a high smoke point cooking oil.  Pour in a 1/8" layer of oil in the pan, and heat it up slowly.  As it comes up, wipe the interior of the pan as high as you like.  Heat to just below the smoke point temperature (If you don't have a thermometer, up to the point where the oil shimmers actively).  Watch for runnels or "tears" of oil on the walls, and wipe them smooth.  You do not want the oil to show yellow anywhere or smoke.  Remove from the heat and let the pan cool to room temperature.  Dump about a 1/4 cup of kosher salt into the cooled oil, and scrub the slurry vigorously with a rag all around the pan.  Dump the oily salt and wipe clean.  You're done.  Some cooks do this a couple times.

 

You can make this "seasoning" last longer by thereafter only cleaning the pan with more oil+salt scrubs, i.e., no soap or other surfactants.  And the maximum nonstick effect is attained if you dedicate one pan to eggs and crepes.  It's still stickier than Teflon, but I think you'll be impressed.  The process works on SS pan linings, too.  

Edited by boilsover (log)
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  • 1 month later...
On 10/10/2018 at 11:51 AM, Kim Shook said:

 

I have two Dutch ovens that get a LOT of use.  One is an old Club aluminum and the other is a non-stick Calphalon.  They suit my day to day purposes just fine.  I also have a really good stockpot and a super cheap huge one that I almost never need to use.  The reason I'm thinking of buying the caldero pot is for when I need something really large for things like the gravy I made yesterday.  

 

I also have a big Club cast aluminum Dutch oven and a a three quart saucepan. I love them, and more importantly, I can still lift them easily. These things are very sturdy and they conduct heat up the sides of the pan all the way to the top and into the lid. You could use these pans for car jack stands. That's how sturdy they are!

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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