Clad SS Stock Pot Safe To Use On Open Fire?

soilent_greenDecember 30, 2013

I want to do more of my home food processing using wood-fueled fire instead of my increasingly expensive electricity.

To do this, I seek to acquire a basic 100 percent all-stainless steel 40 quart stock pot but I can not seem to find them in these larger capacities, all I find are the induction-ready units whose bases are clad with aluminum sandwiched between layers of stainless steel.

My question is are those clad units safe to use on a high-heat open cooking fire?

If not safe, can anyone help direct me to a retail source for a 100 percent all-stainless steel 40 quart stock pot? I have been searching off and on for several weeks now and have not been able to locate such a product - lots of confusion out there in descriptions because many vendors label them as stainless steel but then further down in the descriptions mention the aluminum cladding.

TIA for any help, it would be much appreciated.
-Tom

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myfamilysfarm

We use a turkey fryer, I don't know if it's SS or not, but it works for us. We do tomatoes and peaches in it outside over the propane fueled burner.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:42PM
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soilent_green

Thanks for reply.

I also plan on using the stock pot on the open fire for finishing maple syrup. I do not want to use electricity, LP, or NatGas - my goal is to not pay for BTUs, plus wood fire makes better syrup IMO. :-)

As a side note, many turkey fryers come with cheap all-aluminum stock pots - on principle I never use aluminum with food preparation.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 2:56PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I doubt you'll find an all-stainless pot because the stainless is a poor conductor of heat. Hence the aluminum. The only all-stainless ones I've seen are smaller and cheap. I learned my lesson on that type of pot when I scorched some venison mincemeat. Talk about a painful discovery after all that work (and expense).

You might check out the Vollrath stockpots which offer an integral aluminum bottom. I've used one for years and years as my BWB. They offer a 38 1/2 quart size. They are quite pricey but for long-term use I think it's worth it. This is a kettle you can hand down to the next generation.

Lehman's is a very reliable old-line company and if you call them they can probably answer your question re an open fire. Also you can find out if the 38 1/2 quart comes with a canning rack. Mine did and it's a handy addition.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Vollrath Stainless Stockpots

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 3:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree that the Vollrath pots would be an excellent choice and as carol mentioned even they are aluma-clad bottoms for better heat conduction and even heat distribution.

Restaurant supply stores are the best sources (see link below). They also carry Vollrath.

Keep in mind that loaded it will be quite heavy and that the support grate will have to be heavy duty too. Wood fire cooking requires frequent adjustments in height over the fire for proper cooking so you may find a smaller size more useful and easier to work with.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: WEBstaurant Store

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 3:53PM
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malna

My neighbor uses stainless steam table pans to boil her maple sap down (over an open fire). She uses full size and half size 6" deep pans which have a lot of surface area for evaporation. She did say she prefers to use the 20 gauge ones (especially over the open fire) rather than the cheaper 24 or 22 gauge ones.

Not as multipurpose as a stock pot, but I thought I'd offer another idea to consider.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 4:19PM
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soilent_green

I hear you Carol regarding using cheap all-stainless stock pots, especially on an electric stove, but I have found all-stainless to be trouble free on an open fire - the key is proper shielding. Only downside is needing a continuously hot fire thus consuming a fair amount of fuel wood, but I have a lot of that available.

Do not get me wrong - I have absolutely no problem with the cladding concept, and if it turns out to be safe for my purpose then this becomes a non-issue and opens up many purchase options for me. I will try communicating with Lehman's, thanks for the tip.

Checked out Vollrath - nice product line.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 4:24PM
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soilent_green

Dave - I actually already had found that product link and had it bookmarked. :-) If it turns out that clad is safe to use on open fire, I would seriously consider purchasing. Refining the restaurant supply search finally came up with this product: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/polar-ware/360/p372361.aspx

Have not researched that brand yet, but pot sounds good enough for my needs. Only negative I noted is that it has welded handles which I do not trust, but I can add my own rivets.

Regarding weight, yes that is a concern that I have taken into account. I consider using two 20 quart pots to be a viable option rather than one 40, but I would prefer not to have to do split batches of stuff. I have been thinking that it might actually be best for me to acquire all three, assuming 20 quart pots are available.

malna - For my syruping I use a rectangular fifty gallon evaporator pan on a firebox for the bulk sap processing. I prefer to use stock pots for final finishing, and I agree that the added benefit of acquiring stock pots is their multipurpose-full-ness - I do not know how to properly word that... :-)

Thanks for the input, folks.
-Tom

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 5:15PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I don't doubt if you decide on the Vollrath that restaurant suppliers might be the most competitive option.

But Lehman's has been in business a long time and serves the needs of a large traditional customer base, including Amish, so I'm guessing they're more likely to be able to answer your questions.

Personally while I've worked with wood cookstoves, I've not done this sort of thing on an open wood fire, so can't speak to that myself.

Carol

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 10:48PM
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thatcompostguy

While you're at Lehman's, look at this one...

https://www.lehmans.com/p-145-amish-made-stovetop'>stovetop-water-bath-canner.aspx

Here is a link that might be useful: 50 QT SS canning pot

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 8:05AM
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myfamilysfarm

Our turkey fryers are the cheap ones you buy now, but older ones. Most of my 'stock pots' are old ones given up by others.

Restaurant supply (wholesale) are good sources for those super large pots, but they will not be cheap. That's in addition to Lehman's and such.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:45AM
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soilent_green

chrisb_sc_z7 - That stovetop canner is interesting but it has a few drawbacks for open fire - it has wooden handles which would burn up, and the seams are soldered and I am not too keen on using anything that is soldered on an open fire. I may copy the concept and build my own next summer using stock pot handles and welded seams. :-)

I have been in communications with Lehman's, but I had to do some clarifications because they do not seem to understand the question. I have emails sent out to other vendors as well as some manufacturers, but I do not expect many replies until next week.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Have you considered cast iron and/or ruled it out? Most of the open pit cooking we do is when camping out and cast iron is the material of choice. Not sure but I think that 10 qt is the biggest available in CI.

Of course since all the actual cooking is done over coals rather than actual flames the clad steel, assuming it isn't set right on the coals directly, should work fine I'd think. It works fine over my heavy duty propane burner which can get much higher BTUs than a wood fire does.

Just something to consider.

Dave

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:58PM
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soilent_green

Dave - Not interested in cast iron for this purpose, but I have a wonderful collection of antique cast iron cookware and it is wonderful stuff.

I do not really consider this to be a huge issue - I thought this would be a simple question getting a quick answer. Now it really comes down to my having a question for which I have not found a definitive answer, and the longer I go not finding an answer makes me want to find that answer even more. You think clad steel will work fine, I have always strongly suspected it will work, others I have personally discussed this question with also think it will work, yet so far I have found no one with any expertise or product knowledge or personal experience who will definitively state that they are 100 percent positive it will work, and this has surprised me. Hopefully such an answer will arrive in my inbox soon. I am ready to seek out a metallurgist LOL.

If I do not find a definitive answer then I will simply not take the chance and I will purchase non-clad stock pots, now that I found some sources of supply. If I had not found them then I would have taken the chance with clad units, but I would not have been happy about doing so until they proved out. It would also be a bummer to find out after the fact that not only would clad work fine but would work much better than what I acquired. This is why I would love to find an answer before I trigger purchase orders. I have until the end of January...

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 5:23PM
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soilent_green

Well, Lehman's could not answer the question definitively. They did mention possible warpage issues with using any type of stainless steel on an open fire, but that was the only information they could offer.

And they suggested using cast iron. ;-)

Back to square one, pending replies from manufacturers and other suppliers. Going to try to send out a few more emails today.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 2:09PM
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bkay2000

If you have access to a Restaurant Depot, you'll be able to find stainless steel pots there. I think they allow church groups, boy scout troops, etc. access to their stores. Just Google it.

The pots are fairly reasonable as well. They are not clad, that i noticed. This place is less expensive than regular restaurant supply stores.

bk

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 2:26PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I would think a lot of it would rest on your ability to control the fire and the type of wood you use. Even a great pot will warp under the "right" conditions. If you can maintain a steady even not-excessive heat, I'm with Dave. I can't imagine any greater likelihood of an issue than there would be with propane burners.

After all, cast iron is hardly indestructible, despite its reputation. More than one person has shattered a precious old cast iron pot.

Are you using a grate on the fire?

Carol

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 5:24PM
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soilent_green

My uses for the stock pots would be maple syrup finishing, sorghum syrup finishing, making batches of different tomato-based product for canning, water bath processing, cooking bulk meals for a local youth group, and anything else I can think up. Wood fires would range from very hot to average. Stock pots would be exposed to high heat and direct flame for syrup processing down to just coals for cooking. They would be used in winter and in summer. They need to be foolproof to use for any open fire application by inexperienced users.

I use an adjustable grate on my custom built fire pit. I have been cooking on wood fires for decades so I have a lot of experience. I have experience using smaller 100 percent stainless stock pots on an open fire, I just do not have any experience using clad stock pots on an open fire.

Nobody that I am aware of uses cast iron for syrup processing, everybody uses stainless. I have never heard of anyone using laminated/clad materials for their wood-fired evaporator pans, be they purchased commercial units or homebuilt - pans are always constructed using 100 percent stainless steel. Do not know if there is a connection there or not...

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:37PM
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