Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CopperChef Reviewed

In a recent post, I shared some experiences and opinions about cookware for your plant-based kitchen. One comment pertained to CopperChef cookware, which has been heavily promoted in recent years, but I came to the conclusion that you're better off saving your money for something better.

CopperChef's Sticky "Non-Stick" Coating

In the interest of fairness, by buying a set of CopperChef pans, I did end up with an induction cooktop, which was major progress. Besides the cooktop, their set included both the 9.5" and 11" "Deep Square Pan," with lids and steamer baskets and some pretty useless utensils.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I will offer you some pictures:

CopperChefXL 9.5" Deep Square Pan, Looking good
The ceramic coating comes off on the bottom, just from the cook top
Non-stick coating showing wear and tear in the middle
So for me this stuff was a learning tool to get going with induction cooking. I love the induction cooking experience, but these pans are not worth whatever I paid for them. Here is what it says on their website:

Copper Chef is the world’s first non-stick all-round square pan with Cerami-Tech coating, a new generation of healthy ceramic non-stick technology. That means nothing will stick to your pan. Copper Chef, with extra deep sides replaces a roasting pan, a rice cooker, a steamer, a stock pot, a wok and a baking dish. Even cook mac and cheese from dry right in its own sauce. Delicious! No more boiling and straining ever again!
What’s the secret? Copper Chef’s induction plate channels heat quickly and evenly with no hot spots, so you can sear meat in a flash!
And because you’re cooking with ceramic non-stick, you don’t have to add all that extra fat and butter. Air pop popcorn without any oil or butter. And no added calories.
 The truth is different, in my experience, so,  even though the website for the product claims expressly that you can cook in it without oil or grease, it did not work out that way in practice. For me cooking vegetables like spinach, poi leaf (Malabar spinach), or callaloo, begins with searing some onions and chilis at medium heat, dry for a few minutes until  the onions begin to caramelize. Then I add some 2 ice cubes of frozen vegetable broth and add some chopped garlic, and cook that for another five minutes, before I add the vegetable. Sometimes I may first add some beans and/or some split lentils or chick peas (and more water) to make a sauce. It all depends.

In the CopperChef pan, in the center area, where the induction heat transfer occurs, the onions started baking on to the "non stick surface" right away, even the first time, and it got progressively worse. The picture above is after about 6 months of regular use. Cleaning up is becoming progressively worse. Effectively, I cannot brown the onions in this pan, I have to stop just before they caramelize, which happens to be 4 minutes on 275F and even then they start to stick. It has become a major annoyance.

Meanwhile I have to say, the 11" Deep Square Pan is very useful to me for steaming my daily bunch of kale, because the steaming tray is huge. Of course for steaming the problem with anything sticking on the non-stick coating is a non-issue. The wear and tear on the corners of the square bottom are the same - it really does seem the cooktop is that abrasive. In short, the CopperChef pans are great for boiling water, but would not count on them for challenging tasks like seriously cooking without oil... never mind what they claim.

Besides these usability problems, we had endless problems with this company just to get the shipment right. The first order had pieces missing and it took something like 10 follow-up orders to correct the first one, during which time they kept sending us the wrong replacements. It took about six months before our first shipment was complete, and by that time the 9.5" Deep Square Pan was essentially worn out.

Enter Scanpan

Scanpan 4Qt Sauce Pan
On the recommendation of some of my plant-based friends, I then tried a Scanpan sauce pan, and it is brilliant. It has now taken the place of the 9.5" Deep Square Pan from CopperChef. Now, in fairness, the Scanpan sauce pan cost as much as the cooktop plus the two pans from CopperChef, and the cooktop definitely does work just fine. Using the timer for cooking is so much easier! Plus the 11" pan is proving very useful to me.

Scanpan has proven itself to me as being the non-stick ceramic cookware that truly performs. It says non-stick and it is non-stick. It feels very solid and the thick, multi-layer bottom does a masterful job at very even heat distribution, making this pan truly a joy to cook in.

OK, that's the latest on my adventures in plant-based cooking. Remember, the tools do make a difference in your daily routine, so while you may not necessarily need anything special to go plant-based, still, having great tools does pay dividends and make cooking more rewarding.

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