Frying pans have been used to cook foods for millennia. The earliest known use of the frying pan was in ancient Mesopotamia, where copper was the metal of choice. The ancient Greeks and Romans both also used frying pans, but the modern version of this essential cooking implement dates from the late 19th century when cast iron skillets designed for stovetop use became popular. Today, a frying pan is quite possibly the single most commonly used variety of cookware. Most cookware sets include one or even two frying pans in recognition of this fact. Frying pans are also available as standalone items so that households who need a larger or smaller version can easily find the one that will suit their preferences. Frying pans come in both stovetop and electric varieties.
Stovetop Frying Pans
Traditional cast iron frying pans are still available. Such pans remain popular, particularly for outdoor cooking applications. They are durable enough, for example, to be placed directly onto the hot coals of an outdoor cooking fire or to be used atop a barbecue grill. Another popular option today, however, is a frying pan made from another type of metal, a blend of metals, or even glass. Common metals used in frying pan construction include aluminium, copper, and stainless steel, which is frequently combined with a copper or aluminium core to boost heat conduction.
Non-Stick Frying Pans
A 20th century innovation to the design of frying pans was the development of non-stick coatings that could be applied to the interior surface. Non-stick pans allow cooks to prepare foods that are lower in fat and calories since the use of oil to prevent sticking can be minimised, or in some cases eliminated. Non-stick coatings require some special care; cooks must avoid the use of metal utensils since these can lead to scratches that not only look unsightly, but also reduce the pan's non-stick characteristics. Wooden, silicone, or plastic cooking tools are recommended for use with non-stick frying pans. This is true even of non-stick pans that feature a ceramic rather than a Teflon interior.
Limitations of Non-Stick Frying Pans
Non-stick frying pans have come to be a kitchen essential as they greatly simplify clean up; when used correctly, such a frying pan will virtually never need to be scrubbed. Still, for certain types of dishes a traditional frying pan without a non-stick coating is necessary. This is true, for example, of recipes calling for a sauce to be deglazed. In such applications, the cook needs to incorporate a browned residue into a sauce. A non-stick frying pan prevents the very kind of sticking that is needed to create the browned residue. Another key limitation of a non-stick frying pan is that the interior coating, particularly when made of Teflon, cannot withstand very high temperatures. Above 240 °C, a non-stick coating can begin to decompose, a process that can produce fumes which are toxic to human beings.
Electric Frying Pans
The term "frying pan" usually conjures up images of a skillet designed for use on a stove, but another variety is available: the electric frying pan, also called an electric skillet. This type of frying pan can produce its own heat as long as a standard electrical outlet is within reach, which allows it to be used in places where traditional cooking appliances are unavailable. Most electric frying pans are designed for use on a table or countertop. Because they heat up to high temperatures, such pans feature legs that elevate the main cooking element away from the surface below. These legs are typically insulated against heat to prevent warping.
Differences from Stovetop Frying Pans
Most stovetop frying pans are round, but electric frying pans can be found in additional shapes such as rectangular or square. Traditional stovetop frying pans have sides that are gently sloped, but electric frying pans tend to have sides that are closer to a vertical orientation.
Benefits of Electric Frying Pans
While regular frying pans are sometimes sold without a lid, electric skillets almost always come complete with a tight-fitting lid that can help to keep juices and other cooking residues from spattering on the table or counter being used to support the frying pan. In addition, electric frying pans allow for precise heat regulation, something that is not possible with a typical electric or gas-powered stove. Instead of having settings for low, medium, and high, an electric frying pan may include a sophisticated thermostat that allows a user to specify exactly the temperature desired. Electric frying pans have become somewhat less popular in the decades since the introduction of the microwave oven, but they still remain a useful cooking tool in many kitchens. They provide users with a less expensive alternative for a portable cooking implement.
Maintenance and care considerations
When shopping for a frying pan, it is important to keep in mind the care requirements that various types have. There is no sense, after all, in paying good money for a frying pan that will not be used much because it requires more upkeep time than an owner has available.
Cast Iron and Carbon Steel Frying Pans
These types of pans require seasoning, which means that a thin layer of oil must be applied to the cookware and baked on before the pan is ever used. Seasoning should be periodically re-applied throughout the lifetime of a cast iron or carbon steel frying pan. The seasoning process is not difficult, but if owners neglect this vital step, the pan will not be properly sealed against water damage and it will begin to rust. Seasoning provides an additional benefit besides water resistance; over time, it will cause a carbon steel or cast iron frying pan to acquire some non-stick characteristics, but without the use of chemicals that are a health concern to some individuals.
Copper Frying Pans
Copper frying pans are typically lined with tin on the inside to prevent the copper from reacting with acidic foods and creating toxic substances. This lining can become worn over time, which means that copper pans must be re-tinned on a periodic basis to maintain safety. An additional consideration is that copper may also need polishing to remove tarnish; otherwise, a pan will lose the bright, beautiful gleam that is one of copper's strongest selling points.
Aluminium and Stainless Steel
These types of frying pan are almost maintenance-free. They can be washed in an automatic dishwasher and will not tarnish, nor do they need to be seasoned.
Non-stick Frying Pans
Non-stick frying pans also need very little maintenance, though care must be taken not to scratch them. Ceramic non-stick coatings used in some types of non-stick frying pans are considerably more durable than older types of coatings such as Teflon. Most non-stick frying pans can be cleaned in an automatic dishwasher but care should be taken to position the pan so that dividers or spokes in the dishwasher will not rub against the inside of the pan. This can help to prevent scratching.
Electric Frying Pans
Electric frying pans cannot be washed in a dishwasher unless the pan portion can be detached from the heating element, nor should they be plunged into a sink full of soapy water. They are typically easy to clean as long as they are non-stick or sufficient oil has been used to prevent food from sticking.
Find Frying Pans on eBay
Finding a frying pan on eBay is simple, requiring only that shoppers type a phrase such as "stainless steel frying pan" or "non-stick electric frying pan" into the convenient search box located on most pages on the site. To see a wider range of choices, eBay shoppers can also use the site's category system to navigate to the type of frying pan desired. The frying pan category can be found by clicking the drop down arrow next to Categories at the top left of the page and choosing the Home & Garden section. From there, select Furniture & Living, then Cookware, Dining, & Bar, and then Pots & Pans. Finally, click on the label Frying & Grill Pans. The listings displayed can be filtered for brand name, colour, material, and a number of other factors by clicking on the tick boxes on the left hand side of the listings screen.
A frying pan is an essential item for any modern kitchen. While some people prefer to use highly traditional cast iron frying pans, others will find that one of today's modern non-stick frying pans suits their lifestyle better. Whatever type of frying pan is desired, eBay is an excellent place to shop due to the site's large inventory including pans from leading brands like Tefal who offer pans in the Jamie Oliver range and Morphy Richards.