One of the most important and most frequently used items of all your outdoor cooking equipment is your stockpot. It therefore really makes good sense to buy a good one and to see it as an important investment in your outdoor kitchen.
Stockpots vary hugely in size and in quality and come in both stainless steel and aluminum. Deciding which to go for and what sizes you’re going to need are the two big questions needing answering at the outset.
You are going to need a few stockpots so buy with that in mind. Don’t go with the idea that one size fits all. If a set of 2 or 3 stockpots is going to be too expensive today buy the size that you think that you are going to use the most and then buy more when funds permit.
For inside the house stockpots start at 8 quarts, which is okay for small scale cooking and most buy the 12 quarts for every day bigger scale cooking. However, if want to cook outdoors for family & friends then you’re going to need larger pots.
And if a big stockpot is what you are after then you’ll find stockpots ranging in size, for example in the Bayou Classic range, from 24 to 36 to 44 to 62 to 82 quarts going right up to a 162-quart stainless steel stock pot. The choice is up to you. But remember the larger the pot, the more powerful the burner that is needed to heat it up with.
So when buying a stockpot what should you think about? Here are ten important guidelines:
1. Aluminum is going to be lighter in weight; it will give even heating without heat spots; it quickly heats up and will cost less size for size than stainless steel; however it easily dents, doesn’t last as long, it’s harder to clean and doesn’t look quite as good as stainless steel.
2. By contrast, stainless steel is going to be easy to clean; it lasts longer; it, doesn’t dent so easily, and it looks nicer as a piece of cookware.
3. It’s a must that you go for ‘quality’ whether buying aluminum or stainless steel. There is an awful lot of cheap ‘rubbish’ in the marketplace. If you buy cheap then you’ll soon come to regret it!
4. When choosing a stockpot, particularly if buying a large one, ensure its made from highest commercial grade stainless steel or aluminum appropriate for that size of the pot; the same applies to the basket you’re buying with it.
5. Go for a stock pot that has an indention just short of the top of the pot; this holds the basket off the bottom of the pot for when steaming;
6. Make sure you select a pot with a thick base; this is where you’ll get wear, especially with poorer grade aluminum pots.
7. Make sure the lid fits snugly and tightly and ensure the pot has a tidy rim making pouring easy.
8. Select a stockpot with well designed spacious handles that are secure. Poor quality rivets and small handles are an absolute no-no; you’re going to be lifting some very hot liquids bearing considerable weight!
9. Don’t be concerned about the width versus height argument. Some say the height has to be greater than the width but, in all my outdoor cooking, with every conceivable size of stockpot, including the largest of pots, which typically have a wider base than depth, I don’t find any difference whatsoever in respect of the taste of the food that is served up. Indeed I would go for the counter argument for practical reasons. If you have a wider base, especially when you’re cooking over a big flame outdoors you’ll find it far easier to brown and to stir in a wider pot rather than in an overly tall pot.
10. Finally it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a good quality range of stock pots in your local hardware store. You might find one or two pots from the odd one or two good brands but you’re much better off going online and investigating the many great offers across the whole range of sizes that you’ll find there. And whilst you might find some great brands at a cookware specialty store you’re very likely to be paying far, far more than if you buy online; a lot more.