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Better Heat Distribution for Your Stock Pot

I like to cook large batches of stews, chili, soup, etc. to eat, freeze, or give to friends. For this I use a large stock pot. When I decided to buy one years ago (stainless steel; I'll settle for nothing less) I discovered they were all very expensive or very thin.

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So I bought a thin one for $15 (on sale), went by a scrap yard and picked up a piece of scrap 1/4 inch aluminum large enough to cover the entire pan bottom ($3 or $4), and cut it down to fit. Then I'd just sit the aluminum on the burner and sit the pot on it. This helps greatly to dissipate the heat evenly under the pot, thus avoiding hot spots and burnt food without spending a fortune for a thick-bottom pot.

One caveat: aluminum is the very devil to cut. Being soft, it gums up hacksaw blades, cutting wheels, etc. Measure the base of your pot and try to find a piece of scrap as close to size as possible.

Happy cooking!

By Alph from Greenwood, SC

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 24, 20060 found this helpful

GENIUS!!!!

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July 24, 20060 found this helpful

Yes, I'm sure this is a thrifty idea but I asked for a nice stockpot as a Christmas gift many years ago and received a very nice Revereware stockpot. I will probably have it the rest of my life. I don't know what it cost but even if it was $50 I figure it was well worth it!

I wonder if this piece of aluminum is sharp?

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July 25, 20060 found this helpful

ahahaa! In response to Debbie52: Good answer, and I'll be quick to admit my trick isn't as good as a quality, heavy, thick-bottom stock pot. I have since acquired a few of those (not Revereware but still pretty nice). Having the highly conductive metal (aluminum or whatever) actually fused to the bottom of the steel pot is much better for even heat distribution. However, value is a relative concept: if you have thirty + dollars and buy a $29.99 billfold, you will have a nice, empty billfold, whereas if you save the rubber band off a newspaper and roll your bills up, you'll have a rather shabby-looking (but not empty) rubber band. That's sort of where I was at the time, and with less than $20 invested in the pot I still had ten or fifteen to spend on food.

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Oh, and no, the slab of aluminum isn't sharp... I smoothed and rounded all the edges carefully. Cutting and filing and such took quite a bit of time, but the value of time is also relative and in those days I had a lot more time than money. ;~) Come to think of it, I hope I still do. Running out of money is annoying but temporary. Running out of time is permanent, at least in this life. Time will see you through a spell of no money better than money will see you through a spell of no time.

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August 30, 20060 found this helpful

Hello Alph, Debbie52 here....I hope my post wasn't annoying :-) I didn't intend it to be. You did give a very good frugal tip.

I don't know that I've ever seen any nice stockpots at the thrift stores. I wonder if a person could even get one by asking on freecycle.com?

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I use my big stock pot the most when we are canning, otherwise it is too big....another reason it will probably never have to be replaced. Since it was a gift from my mother in law, I didn't pay for it. I do have to say that starting out with a quality one is probably better than buying those cheap ones over and over!

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