Both professional and home kitchens require a fairly extensive selection of pots and pans. These indispensable cooking tools are typically used on a stovetop, but under the right conditions can go into the oven and double as baking pans. The terms "pots" and "pans" are somewhat interchangeable, but technically pans have shorter sides that are sometimes sloped, while pots tend to be taller with straight sides. Pans are helpful for frying and sautéing foods, while pots are often used for preparing soups, stocks, and sauces.
Types of Pots and Pans
Shopping for pots and pans in retail outlets can be a little overwhelming because of the sheer diversity of items available. Even without considering materials and special features, there are dozens of different sizes and shapes of pots and pans. Thankfully, the online shopping site eBay helps shoppers to cut through the clutter by providing helpful links and tools.
eBay Classifications of Pots and Pans
When eBay shoppers first reach the main section for pots and pans, they will immediately notice a bar off to the left that lists the main types currently available on the site. A clear understanding of the terms used will help shoppers to quickly find listings that suit their needs.
Frying and Grill Pans
Frying pans are also known as skillets or sauté pans. They range in size from small pans suitable for scrambling a single egg to huge skillets that can be used to prepare a fry-up for a crowd. Grill pans consist of flat metal plates, sometimes ribbed, that are used on a stovetop to grill meats or make flatbreads such as crepes or tortillas. They differ from frying pans in that they usually have extremely short vertical sides. Traditional grill pans are circular and cover a single burner, but rectangular two-burner models are also available.
Saucepans and Stock Pots
A saucepan is a pot with vertical sides that are about as tall as the pot's diameter. Saucepans are most often used to boil or simmer foods. Saucepans tend to have one long handle. Larger pots with similar proportions are called soup pots or stock pots and have two handles so that two hands can be used to transfer heavy loads. Oddly enough, a saucepan is not the ideal pot for preparing sauces. Instead, a small skillet with sloping sides is preferred because it provides better evaporation and easier stirring.
Steamers and Poaching Pans
These pans are designed specifically for cooking foods in steam or for simmering foods in liquid for brief periods of time. Steamers and poaching pans often feature an interior section that is separable from the rest of the pan. This serves to either keep foods above boiling water so they can be steamed or to permit cooks to easily lift poached items out of the cooking liquid. Many poaching pans are specialised items intended to be used with a specific food such as fish or eggs.
A wok is a traditional cooking vessel used in China. It features a small round bottom and dramatically sloped sides. This allows for great variation in the amount of heat applied to food. While one item is being fried in the bottom of the pan, other foods can be cooked more gently by positioning them along the sloped sides.
Matching pots and pans are a hallmark of most kitchens. For this reason, cooking vessels are often sold in pan sets. A typical pan set will consist of three to eight pots and pans of various sizes. Some pan sets include highly specialised items such as Dutch ovens, which are very large stock pots.
Other Pots and Pans
eBay uses this category for listings of specialty cooking vessels including tagines, pressure cookers, and multi-cookers.
Materials Used in Pots and Pans
Most styles of pots and pans are available in various types of materials. eBay simplifies the process of sorting through the various options by allowing shoppers to filter listings according to material. This can be more helpful than simply searching for the material desired because the filtering pane lets shoppers know about major alternatives. For example, a shopper who types "stainless steel stock pot" into the search box will only see listings that fit the criteria provided. Those who navigate to the stock pot category, in contrast, will be able to see that options such as aluminium, glass, and stainless steel are available. This can be helpful to shoppers who approach the eBay site without first knowing precisely which pots and pans they prefer.
Metal pots and pans
Most pots and pans are made of combinations of metals. The exact choice of metals has implications for how useful a pan will be for some cooking applications.
Copper pots and pans provide excellent heat conduction, but they cannot be used with acidic foods unless they are lined with tin or another metal that will prevent toxic chemical reactions. Copper requires some upkeep; lined pans must be re-tinned at periodic intervals and copper portions must be polished to preserve copper's characteristic gleam. Many pots of other metals may feature a copper core because it improves heat conduction, therefore helping foods to cook more evenly.
Cast iron pots and pans also require upkeep in the form of seasoning with oil to prevent rust. Cast iron provides cooks with great flexibility as it can be used on the stove or in the oven, even at very high temperatures. This is not true of most other types of metal pans. Cast iron pots and pans can be very heavy, which helps them to hold heat levels quite well.
Steel pots and pans are a familiar sight in many home kitchens as they are one of the most common kinds of cookware. Stainless steel will not react with acidic foods, but conducts heat so poorly that many such pans have a bottom exterior surface made of copper or another metal. Carbon steel pots and pans are much less common than their stainless counterparts. Carbon steel, like cast iron, must be seasoned with oil to prevent the formation of rust.
Aluminium pots and pans come in two varieties: stamped and cast. Stamped aluminium pots are generally made of thin sheets of metal while cast aluminium pots are heavier and thicker. Aluminium pots should not be used with acidic foods unless they have been coated or anodised.
Glass Pots and Pans
One of the most common non-metal materials used to make pots and pans is glass. Glass pots and pans are usually tinted, but they still permit cooks to see the food inside without taking off the lid. This convenience feature is one of the main advantages of glass. Glass is also non-reactive. Its major drawback is that glass pans dropped on a hard surface may shatter.
Non-stick Pots and Pans
Regardless of shape, size, and material, a specific pot or pan may be available with a non-stick coating. Cooks vary in their opinions about such coatings. They can make it possible to cook with less oil, and they certainly simplify clean-up in many cases. On the other hand, cooking techniques may need to be modified to avoid scratching the non-stick surface, which is relatively delicate when compared to the normal interior of a metal or glass pot or pan. Non-stick pots and pans also tend to need replacing faster than other forms of cookware since once scratched, the non-stick interior can potentially flake off and adhere to foods being cooked.
Find Pots and Pans on eBay
eBay has several categories where pots and pans might be listed.
Home Use Pots and Pans
The most extensive listing of pots and pans on the eBay site can be found in the Home & Garden section. From there, select Furniture & Living and then Cookware, Dining & Bar. Finally, find Pots & Pans in the left-hand pane and click on it. The listings that appear can be further modified by making more selections in the left hand pane. From here it is possible to filter listings by many criteria including brand names, colours, materials, and condition.
Professional Pots and Pans
On eBay, pots and pans may also be listed in the Business, Office, & Industrial category. These pots and pans are generally intended for restaurant use. To find these pots and pans, enter the category and then select Cookware/ Cutlery/ Utensils. Finally, tick off the Cookware box in the left-hand pane.
Vintage Pots and Pans
Most shoppers will find that the above two categories fully meet their needs. Those who are specifically looking for vintage cookware, however, should consider looking in the Collectables category under Kitchenalia.
Shopping for pots and pans on eBay allows buyers to see the full range of cooking vessels available without being overwhelmed by the sheer variety. eBay's helpful tools allow shoppers to peruse their choices and narrow them down in various ways that can help them make informed decisions about the size, style, and materials they prefer for their next set of cookware.