Help me try out & review these Calphalon Pans

Last week I received this set of Calphalon Pans:
http://http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Unison-Nonstick-Piece-Cookware/dp/B0028S7R58/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1269885397&sr=8-3

I got the set free directly from Calphalon, in return I have to write a review of them. I have about a month to test them out before the review has to be up. Since I have never had cookware this nice or of this brand before, I am seeking opinions of other people, especially if you are knowledgeable about pricey pans, to help me know what I should be looking for. Specifically I want to test their claims of the non-stick surface being dishwasher safe, and also the special non-stick coating that is supposed to sear well. But my previous set of cookware was not non-stick so I am not used to cooking with it.

Tell me what kinds of tests I should be doing with this cookware to write a fair review. After cooking a few basic things already, I like them but then again my last set was about $200 so I am thinking of course I will like these better. Making eggs of various kinds in the skillets was fun, but any basic non-stick can make a decent egg when it is brand new, right? I have also roasted some potatoes in the oven and those turned out nice.

What I want to know is, are they worth shelling out this much money for the next guy.

Does anyone else have this type of non-stick pan? Are you having success/troubles I should check out?

I’d be curious to know how much fat was required to make a good over easy egg.
It can be done on low heat in plain stainless steel with a good amount of fat. How little can the Caphalon get by on?

And does it really sear a good steak?

Your link is broken.

I know that Rick Bayless recommends them. But I haven’t used them myself.

I would say cook eggs in them every day and see if the stick gets worse. Omelettes and scrambled eggs are the test for me.

Also, try cooking fish without fat and sear a steak.

sorry - I used to be better at linking but don’t post as much as I used to. Try this one:

The first thing I did was make an over-easy egg, using one of the pans with the ‘slide’ non-stick coating. The pan instructions say to just use a little olive oil before use, like put some on a paper towel and rub it on the pan, or an oil mister to season a pan. I like over-easy eggs but never had much success with them with my old pan set.

I made a pretty decent one on my first try (I use Alton Brown’s method, except I didn’t use any butter except a tiny bit to test my pan temperature. I made a second egg without adding any more butter. ) Those eggs were sliding easy all over the pan!

I will have to get some things to sear this week also. They’ll get a bigger workout this weekend because we are hosting Easter dinner (too bad I didn’t get a roaster too).

If you have a similar stainless steel pan, try searing the same cut of meat, etc., side-by-side with the Calphalon, and check the degree of browning that each achieves.

Odds are they’ve done most of the rough type of testing in their labs, and what they want from you isn’t any sort of lab professional opinion, but for you to treat them exactly as you would your old nonstick and see how they work. That having been said, if you want to stress them, keep reading.

We’ve used our Calphalon for a few years now and the only wear it’s really showing is some nicks in the larger pans. We don’t put ours in the dishwasher though, so that’s an interesting change from the One line that we have to the Unison line you’re testing. The things I’d recommend, based on what wore out our other nonstick(Pampered Chef), are of course eggs, scrambled with additives like salsa or chunks of meat like chorizo. Make some dishes which require long boiling or simmering and see if the heat distributes evenly. After long simmering sessions getting Indian curries just right we developed simmer rings in our Pampered Chef pans. Grilled cheese sandwiches can be a great test of evenness of heat, with easily photographed results. Also use it to bake and see if you can turn out a cornbread without it sticking after a while. Oatmeal and Malt-O-Meal also are a great test of non-stick, especially if you leave the leftovers in the pan.

Make sure to try several different brands of dishwasher liquids and powders, and the pot scrubber/heat boost settings. Stuff that boils over tends to be a real bear to clean off, so you could try making some spaghetti sauce and letting it boil over a bit and seeing if you can clean it off the sides afterwards. Since the sides aren’t treated like the interior is, it could be a real pain. Stack the pans the way they show them in the pictures, nested, and see if they scratch each other. We put padding in between ours when we nest them in our cabinets.

Overall we’ve been really happy with our Calphalon and recently ordered the Frittata pans with the idea of being able to up our throughput of omelets by having a cooking pan and a finishing pan. It isn’t working out quite yet, but we’re still hopeful.

Enjoy,
Steven

Check for even heat, which is usually the claim from higher end cookware. Heat a small bit of oil in the pan, heat to medium, drop some pieces of chicken around the edges of the pan. See how long it takes them to brown. Repeat the process, but fry them in the middle. Make sure you heat the oil & pan (from a cold start) for the same amount of time before placing the food in it. If they take significantly longer on the edge, then the even heat claim is not valid.

The pans should be rated for oven use. Check to see what temperature they are rated for, heat your oven and stick a couple of pans in there for 10-15 minutes. When they’re cool, see if there is any warping.

Good suggestions - I will check out the heat distribution tomorrow. They claim to be oven safe up to 500 degrees, and there is no instruction against nesting the pans for storage (although I just assumed that no metal utensils includes the pans touching each other.)
They recommend dawn dish soap (no bleach additives) and cascade detergent, but that could just be cross-promotion and not better cleaning.

I’ve had a similar set of Calphalon (plus a few additional pieces) for over 4 years, and it’s one of my most prized possessions. I wash them by hand and never let metal touch the surfaces. I won’t say any more, so as not to prejudice your review.

But here’s one test you might want to make: Fry something in one of the skillets . . . and “forget” about it until it becomes something hard and black and smokey. Then see how well the piece can be cleaned. This is one of the real-world issues that people occasionally have to deal with.

The even heat issue also means that you should be able to maintain a boil even at lower heat settings. Most of this type cookware recommends not setting the stove heat above medium.

I was going to say the same as Panache. “Burn” something in the pan and then clean it.

I’m interested in the dishwasher aspect. I strictly hand-wash mine (not that it’s a big pain; nothing sticks). Run 'em through a bunch of times and check for scratching.

So any chance you want to share how you managed to get Calphalon to send you a free set of pans?

ok ,I am burning some potatoes right now. My house is starting to stink :slight_smile: Potatoes are usually tough to clean off my stainless pans. Maybe I should do some rice, that is even tougher.

I have run them through the dishwasher a few times, they look fine, but I must admit it makes me nervous. I want to test the pans but I don’t want to ruin them either. And I must admit half the time they are not worth taking up space in the dishwasher because I just have to wipe them off a little to get them clean. I don’t know how to really test that aspect in a month anyway - I would assume if they claim to be dishwasher safe they can stand at least a few weeks of dishwasher use. I wonder more about how they will look in a year. Although they do have a lifetime warranty and says they will replace any item cared for according to the instructions, and the instructions say 100% dishwasher safe. (Is Calphalon really known for standing by their warranties?)

This may be a stupid question, but I have a newer electric stove, the flat-top kind. How does this affect the heat distribution tests…the pans sit flat on the stove and all parts of the pan touch the heat. I never noticed a difference in my stainless pans on cooking near the edges either, is it more pronounced on a gas stove?

I did notice that I can boil at lower heat though when I made pasta yesterday. Here are the recommended heat instructions:
high heat for boiling and reducing (I was able to turn the heat down to med. to keep a boil, on my other pans I had to keep it higher)
medium-high for searing, sauteing, frying and stir-frying
low for warm/simmering

Jorge, I listen to a podcast for working moms, and they have an online community that I joined also. A few weeks ago I received a request through that community to do a quick survey about my cookware, it took me 2 minutes and I forgot about it until a few weeks later, when I got an e-mail from Calphalon inviting me to a group of 500 to get free products to review. I figured I might get a single utensil, or a knife or maybe a single pot. It made my day to come home to a giant box on my doorstep - I was stunned that I got this whole set! I checked with the other members and most did just get one or 2 items (although still very nice ones - big pots, dutch ovens, knife sets, appliances, etc.)

Our community must fit the demographic they want feedback/word of mouth from. I must admit I am hoping the pans do well in all aspects as I want to give them a good review :slight_smile: but to be fair, if I was considering shelling out this kind of money on pots I would want fair comments and not just people gushing because they got free product. So I am thinking about what people want to read about when considering these pots.

My house is now smokey and I had a pan full of blackness. The whole mess slid right out and I cleaned it with a damp paper towel. It would have taken me a week to scrub that out of my stainless pans (in fact I have one that never quite recovered from a similar episode). My 5 year old got nervous though, and asked if that was what we were having for dinner.

ETA - I just noticed that the rivets inside the pan where the handle attaches had charring on them and that did take some scrubbing to get off. Not bad, though.

IME, Calphalon is very good at honoring their warranty - I forget exactly what the wording of it is, but if you have a pan that’s gotten beat up through honest use, ship it to them, and a couple of weeks later, they’ll send you a new pan from whatever’s closest to it in the current product lines. (Their classic hard-anodized line is gone, so those are exchanged for “One” pans.) I even sent in a thrashed non-stick pan that I bought for something like five bucks at a thrift shop, and it was magically turned into a new pan. Pretty much as long as the pan doesn’t look like it was set on fire or run through the dishwasher, (the finish on the old anodized line would either get all warty or come off completely, so it was obvious) they’ll replace it.

I’d expect them to be just as generous with this new design.

As for hot spots… radiant ranges don’t have much problem with them, but I suppose you could simulate one by moving the pan half off the element, or using the largest pan on your smallest element. But really, if these are the same sort of heavy gauge aluminum pans that could cave in a skull that they’ve been making all these years, you don’t need to worry about hot spots.