Even if you are fairly inexperienced when it comes to cooking, you will likely have used a saucepan. However, you may not have realized you were using one. Most of us tend to think a saucepan is the same thing as a pot. So exactly what is a saucepan? Let’s explore this kitchen staple in more detail.
What Is A Saucepan?
A saucepan is a type of kitchenware primarily used on stovetops to cook liquids. They tend to be quite deep, making them ideal for cooking sauces, soups, and other foods without boiling over.
You can purchase saucepans in a range of sizes, with the larger models allowing you to cook larger quantities of food.
In terms of their appearance, saucepans have flat bottoms, and are circular in shape, with high walls. These walls keep sauces and foods from spilling out and the shape is designed for distributing heat evenly.
Saucepans also have long, straight handles, allowing you to move the saucepan when it is cooking without the risk of burning yourself. The handle also provides control while stirring or whisking liquids.
Saucepans are also usually accompanied by a lid so that you can better keep heat within the pan. Typically, new saucepans have transparent lids, which enables you to keep an eye on your food, while keeping in the heat.
Moreover, saucepans can be constructed from many different materials. Stainless steel is a popular option, because of its ability to retain heat.
While saucepans are commonly found in grey and black, as with other cookware, more color options are also becoming widely available, like the many Rachel Ray cookware sets available.
How Is A Saucepan Different From A Pot?
Still thinking we’ve just described a pot? Pots differ from saucepans in two main ways:
- The depth of the pot, and
- The design of the handle.
Pots are typically deeper than saucepans, which make pots, such as stockpots, ideal for soups, stews, and other large quantities of food. The high sides of pots mean food will heat up more slowly, so they are great for dishes that you want to simmer over a long period of time.
Pots also do not have a long handle. They typically have two short, looped handles on either side. Because they fit so much food and are therefore quite heavy, the two shorter handles make it safer to lift the pot when full (and hot!).
While you can use pots and saucepans interchangeably, they each serve a specific function. Read on for tips on what you can cook in a saucepan.
Curious, about what types of pans you might want to invest in? You may want to read our post Can Different Types Of Pots And Pans Actually Help Make Family Meals Easy?
What Can You Cook In Saucepans?
Saucepans are widely used because they are so versatile in the kitchen. They can be used for a number of different cooking methods, meaning you can make plenty of meals with just a saucepan.
These cooking methods include:
- Making sauces
- Heating up
As you can see, these are some of the most commonly used methods of cooking. Here are some suggestions for how you can use a saucepan to cook various foods.
One of the main functions of a saucepan is to boil food. For instance, you can boil vegetables, potatoes, rice, or pasta. This pasta can then be combined with a cheese sauce to make macaroni and cheese.
Meanwhile, you can either serve the boiled potatoes as they are or you can mash them with butter and milk to make mashed potatoes. This mashing process can occur in the saucepan.
For people who are unfamiliar with this cooking process, blanching is the act of putting food in hot water for several minutes, before submerging it in cold water. The cold water slows down the cooking process. You can use a saucepan to blanch fruit and vegetables.
You can poach eggs, fish, or meat in a saucepan. This will be particularly useful if you do not have access to an egg poacher, which is a device specifically designed for this task.
Poaching is a great way of ensuring different types of meat, such as chicken, do not become dry.
As the name indicates, saucepans are also used for sauces. There are plenty of sauces you can make, such as cheese sauce, gravy, sweet and sour sauce, and BBQ sauce.
If you are making a pasta dish, you will likely need two saucepans (or one pot and a saucepan). This is because you may require one to boil the pasta and another saucepan to make the accompanying sauce.
Similar to boiling, simmering is the action of cooking food just below its boiling point. This can be done for a variety of meals, such as soups, potatoes, pasta, or legumes (like peas).
This method of cooking is sometimes used instead of boiling because it is more gentle on the food. Like boiling, you can use a saucepan to simmer your ingredients.
If you like to make stews, you can also use a large saucepan, just keep an eye on the temperature to make sure the stew does not overheat. The term “stewing” means that you cook something on low heat for quite a long time. This technique can be used for meats and vegetables.
Saucepans can also be used to warm up some hearty foods, such as beans and soup. In fact, if you are making homemade soup, a saucepan will be an essential item.
A saucepan can be used to boil the ingredients before they are blitzed with a hand blender. If you are making baked beans, you can serve them with toast for a simple yet homely meal.
Can You Fry Food With A Saucepan?
Ideally, you should use a frying pan to fry food instead of a saucepan. As the name suggests, frying pans are specifically designed for frying.
Saucepans have also been designed so that they will lock moisture in. This is why they have tall walls. Meanwhile, frying pans are built with shorter walls to let moisture escape.
Additionally, if a saucepan does not have a non-stick coating, fried food is likely to stick to it. This will make it hard to clean and will limit your ability to reuse it.
Because of these facts, you should only use a saucepan to fry when you are desperate, such as if you do not have access to a frying pan.
What Should You Consider When Buying A Saucepan?
If you are considering buying a saucepan or a set of saucepans, there are multiple factors that will affect your purchase. Please consider these factors to ensure that you find the right product for you.
Before you invest in a saucepan, you should think about what size you want. This will depend on how much food you usually cook and the size of your kitchen.
If you make small volumes of food, for instance, if you’re cooking for one, you should consider getting a smaller saucepan. However, if you cook for a large family, you may want to contemplate getting a larger saucepan, or a set of pans.
Many saucepan sets are stackable, which will let you save on kitchen space. If you don’t cook large quantities of food or many soups, a large saucepan may be just fine to replace a stockpot in your kitchen as well.
Getting a strong material will be essential to ensuring that your saucepan lasts for a long time.
As mentioned, stainless steel is a common choice, though other materials such as aluminum should also be considered. You may also want to get a product that has a non-stick coating.
Nobody wants to spend loads of money on saucepans. Therefore, you should consider the amount that you are willing to spend on these items. Rule out any saucepans that are above your price range.
Though some people will care more about how their saucepans look than others, it is nonetheless a factor to consider. This will be especially true if you want your saucepans to match the theme of your kitchen. If so, you should decide what style and color you want your saucepan to be.
Though many people use saucepans daily, this item may be less familiar to people who rarely cook. Hopefully, our guide will have explained what this product is and how it can be implemented in your cooking.
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