In a professional kitchen, there are the essential cookware items that every chef should have. This includes a commercial stock pot, sauté pan and a sauce pan. While all three have deep bowls in the overall design, the stockpot is the only range-top vessel that can assist in creating large batches of stocks, soup bases and stews.
So what should you look for when shopping for a new commercial stockpot? Let’s take a look at the key components for your selection.
Commercial stock pot sizes range from 8 quarts to just over 100 quarts and from 8 to 30 inches in diameter. Larger pots are often seen in professional kitchens serving mass volumes of food or large-size ingredients, such as lobster, on a daily basis. The typical restaurant may not need to go quite as big as 100 quarts and should find a 20 quart stock pot to be more then suitable for regular menu production. When searching for the right size stock pot, it is important to keep in mind the amount of available storage and cook top space as well as the volume of food you need to produce.
The overall shape of a stock pot consists of straight sides that plunge deep into a rounded base. Unlike a sauce pan, the stock pot can hold greater quantities of ingredients. Although known mostly for its use in making soups, stocks, chili and stew, stock pots prove to be a truly versatile instrument in the kitchen as they can also be used to cook ingredients that are hard to fit into smaller pots. Consider using a stock pot for mashing potatoes, boiling corn on the cob or steaming lobsters.
For stock pots that will be used for making soup or stocks, it is important to consider the gauge of the metal. Thick, heavy stock-pot bottoms will prevent burning and will do well when left to simmer on the burner for longer periods of time. Stock pots made with thinner gauges are great for steaming, boiling or any other cooking method that is done in a shorter period of time. When shopping for a specific material thickness, remember that the smaller the number, the thicker the gauge. So for example, if you are shopping for a stock pot with a thick bottom and are deciding between a 12 gauge and a 4 gauge pot, choose the 4 gauge as it will have a thicker structure. One final note to keep in mind: many pots do not come with lids and this may require an additional purchase.
Some stock pots, like the pictured Polar Ware 40 quart stock pot with faucet, are available with a spigot attached. This is a great feature for chefs who create stocks that would otherwise need to be strained. The spigot allows for easy draining of the finished liquid, relieving chefs from having to pick up and tip over a large and heavy stock pot full of hot liquid. These stock pots are also great for home brewers as they eliminate the need for a pump or a two-man team to drain the boiled liquid into a waiting carboy.
Stock pots are typically available in an aluminum or stainless steel construction. Choosing between the two may come down to budget and durability. Aluminum stock pots are often more economical and stainless steel stock pots provide strong durability for daily use.
Aluminum stock pots are excellent heat conductors and are the more economic choice for professional kitchens on a shoestring budget. This material will do well with all stock pot applications, with the exception of acidic ingredients as the aluminum can be reactive and may impart flavors or color. If you are cooking with acidic foods, look for anodized aluminum. This material holds up well with acidic food and is a fantastic economical choice over plain aluminum. Aluminum stock pots cannot be used on induction cook tops as they are not made of a magnetic material.
Stainless steel stock pots are strong and incredibly durable. Stock pots made with this material withstand daily use for many years in a commercial kitchen. Although stainless steel is typically a larger investment up front, it will alleviate the need to replace stock pots as often. Stainless steel stockpots are also a great choice for professional kitchens that frequently cook with acidic foods as they are non-reactive. Stainless steel stockpots also work perfectly on induction cook tops.
The right stock pot will provide years of versatile use for your professional kitchen. With the proper size, material and structure in place, your stock pot will enhance your level of production and customer satisfaction. For more inspiration, check out this blog post on three awesome stock pots.