“ Brand: John Lewis / Product Type: Pan Set „
Moving into our shiny new flat was a symbol of starting our new life together, and as such our dingy, cheap, Asda basic pans with burnt bits on the bottom had to go into the bin and off I toddled to try and find some new ones (please note it was ME not my darling other half that went to find the pans, that should tell you who does the cooking in our house!)
**What was I looking for?**
I think the first thing that needs to be said is what was I looking for before I purchased the pans? I wanted non-stick and at least 3 pans, with a frying pan, I did not want the basic set that I would have purchased previously, because I had found that although they were cheaper they took more time and effort in cleaning and often led to me burning food by accident. The first thing that struck me as I wandered round all the department stores were the amount of pan sets which were emblazoned with celebrity chef names and the premium price associated with them. From memory I saw a Jamie Oliver 2 pan set for £60.
**The set and the Price**
After being gobsmacked at the prices of pans and pan sets (and looking longingly at Le Cruset!) I found the John Lewis range. The set I purchased set me back £85 which, in comparison to other sets in the shop, was the best value for the number of pans that you get as it comes with 3 saucepans, a frying pan and a milk pan.
The set is available in a 3 colours, pale blue, fire engine red and cream. All pans are non-stick, and covered by the Teflon lifetime guarantee. I bought the cream set, which in hindsight was not my best idea as I am finding that the exterior of the pan is easily marked.
You can either buy the set online (www.johnlewis.com) or in store - I personally always prefer to buy in store as I when I want something I want it now, however having used the John Lewis delivery service for other options I do know that this is very good, as you can pick date and time of delivery (morning or afternoon) and they do offer Saturday delivery (for a premium)
All of the pans in the set have a silicone soft grip handle, I find that this works well as it doesn't overheat whilst you are simmering or cooking as a metal handle would do, I have not had to use a tea towel to move the pan at any point. The handles are also easy to grip and give you control over the pan, essential when I am darting around the kitchen with a pan fall of boiling water that I need to drain and not throw over my feet!
The saucepans come in 3 sizes; 16, 18 and 20 cm, and all come with clear glass lids. The lids again have the silicone soft grip handle, so once again, it makes it easier to lift the lids off to stir the contents of the pan; it is not technically necessary to lift the lid in order to check and see how your cooking is doing as the fact it is glass means you can see straight through! The lids also have a small vent for steam, and I have not had any problems with overboiling and the contents of my cooking spilling down the side of the pan! The range of sizes I think is fairly standard, the small pan I tend to use to cook small veg, or if I am cooking pasta/new potatoes for one, the medium pan for cooking sauces where I need to simmer and add a variety of ingrediants, and the large pan for those "one pot" meals and for pasta for 2!
The milk pan - I have not actually used yet, it comes with no lid and is shaped so you can pour our the milk without spilling it everywhere. I am unlikely to ever use this pan for milk, though my other half does tend to use this one if he is heating up pasta sauce (when I am not in to cook for him obviously) as he finds the jug like edge means that the pasta sauce pours easily over his pasta, with less mess for him to clean up before I get home.
The frying pan, this is my most used pan (no idea why, I didn't think I ate that much fried food!), originally I thought it was a little bit small at only 26cm when the singular frying pans I had seen for sale were larger at 28-30cm. So far I have to say I haven't found this a problem but I think that is because I, generally, only cook for 2. The frying pan happily fits 6 sausages in, I have been able to throw in 3 diced chicken breasts and fry 2 eggs.....although not all at the same time!
Until actually investing in decent pans I always though that a pan was a pan. Now I know differently! These are easy to cook with and on, I am able to leave something to simmer without hovering over it constantly stirring, which leaves me free to get on with the rest of the food preparation and so we can have meals on time all at the same temperature rather than cold pasta and hot sauce! The nonstick element is fantastic, I have no problem moving the food around the pan where required (and occassionally have used a little bit too much force with splattering occurring!!)
They heat up evenly and quickly so it doesn't matter where in the pan I throw whatever needs cooking, it will all cook evenly.
As with all teflon/nonstick coatings I try not to use metal utensils, generally sticking to wooden spoons (again I have cheated a couple of times frying eggs using a metal spatula!) and there are no scratches....so far!
First thing to note is that these are NOT dishwasher safe. This is something that doesn't bother me, as I would always rather wash pans by hand as I don't think the dishwasher gets them clean enough, and if it does then the rest of your plates and glasses don't seem as clean. Having said that a couple of the pans have been through the dishwasher a couple of times (darling boyfriend again!) and no harm seems to have come to them though I wouldn't recommend you doing this!
Now, the nonstick, oh how I love teflon! The interior of these pans are so EASY to clean, hot soapy water, a bit of a wipe and even the most stubborn food comes off easily so the pans are ready to go again. What is not so easy is the outside of the pans. I made the mistake of buying these in cream, even though I have taken care of the pans there are now stains on the outside from general use that cannot be scrubbed off. I am not overally fussed about this as the pans tend to be hidden away in the cupboard rather than on display, though it is a little annoying when I think about the price!
**Would I recommend?**
On reflection I would definitely recommend these pans, they do the job, are easy to clean, heat evenly and come with a 25 year guarantee. I would probably recommend you buy in red rather than the paler colours as these do mark on the exterior. I think these pans are good value for money and personally would rather buy these than a Sainsburys/Asda/Tesco set as I feel that I will get more use from these over a longer period of time.
I recently bought a new cooker and also had the worktops replaced in my kitchen. As everything was looking new and shiny I decided that I would invest in some new saucepans as mine were a mixed batch, some dating back 20 years as they were wedding presents and they were certainly looking worse for wear.
I am lucky enough to have a John Lewis home furnishing shop close by so I decided that I would treat myself to some good quality pans from this store. Looking around the cookware department made me realise that there were many pans to choose from but some were way out of my price range.
I find that some of the saucepans are just too heavy for me to manage when they are empty let alone when they are full so I spent quite a while picking up the different ranges to check the weights. I also like to have a non-stick interior lining in my pans, I have two teenagers in the house who are not at their most vigilant when cooking (they might be missing something on Facebook or MSN) and are well known for creating horrendous messes with my pans. I also have a dishwasher so prefer pans that are dishwasher safe.
After what seemed like hours of inspecting and testing I decided that I like the hard anodised aluminium range by John Lewis. I purchased a set of 5 pans and also a large chef's pan from the same range. I think the total was about £125 for the lot which seemed a lot of money to me for saucepans so I was expecting something good. The 5-piece set comprised of a milk pan, a 16, an 18 and 20cm saucepan (with lids) and a frying pan. These pans come with a 25year guarantee although I can honestly say I think I would be hard pressed to produce proof of purchase after 25 years.
The saucepans themselves are stylish looking and are the ones that are used in the Waitrose cookery adverts with a certain TV cook! They are straight sided with a grey-brushed exterior, silver coloured handles with a grey section underneath, a black non-stick interior and clear glass lids with silver-coloured metal edges. I was very pleased with their appearance and they also felt very sturdy and the handles felt safe and robust, no more wobbly saucepan handles for me.
Cooking with the saucepans is a lovely experience (well, as lovely as cooking can get!). They seem to heat up very quickly and evenly, I have not noticed any hot spots even when making sauces or frying more delicate foods. They are suitable for using on all hobs except induction; I have been using them on a gas hob. The non-stick coating is very good. Food really does not stick at all, I have never cooked with saucepans where this is so effective and I must admit I have thrown quite a bit of food out of the frying pan as it moves so easily I have used too much force and it has come out of the pan. I am always very careful to only use plastic utensils to protect the surface. The straight sides seem to add to the ease of use as my previous pans had bulbous sides and things seemed to burn on as the food seemed to stick in one place more. I believ you can use them in the oven up to Gas Mark 4 but I have never tried using them this way.
The handles are metal with a rubberised base near the end. This means that the handles do get hot when the pan has been on the hob for a while and although the base of the handle is cool to the touch sometimes the top part can be quite hot to hold which I think can be dangerous. I don't think it has got hot enough to burn my skin properly but it is hot enough to take you by surprise and you may cause an accident that way.
The glass lids do not have a vent for steam. I didn't even notice this when I purchased the pans as all of my previous saucepans had this feature which is useful as it stops the pressure building up in the pan and makes it easier to control a simmer without the contents of the pan boiling over. The handles look attractive; they are a round knob with a rubberised plastic base and a shiny metal top. Like the pan handles the metal on the top can get hot so I now know to remove the lid by lifting it carefully from underneath or using an oven glove.
I said at the beginning that I wanted dishwasher-safe pans. Whilst comparing all of the pans I failed to notice that the ones I eventually chose did not say that they were dishwasher safe. I realised this after I unpacked them but since I was quite happy with them I just decided that I would wash them by hand which I often ended up doing with my old pans anyway as the dishwasher was often too full to fit them in.
However I went away for a few days and failed to pass this essential piece of information on to my hubby. He only used the one size pan but he did put it through the dishwasher twice.
I, like many people I am sure, have often put things through the dishwasher by accident and although it doesn't do things a lot of good doing it once or twice does little real harm either. This is not the case with these saucepans, after two washes the saucepan had lost almost its entire external coating and it was back down to shiny aluminium on about 80% of its surface. When I looked at the other pans I realised that even washing by hand was not protecting the surface and when I compared them to the milk pan (which I rarely use) I came to the conclusion that the surface was eroding. I could run my hand across them and the grey colour would come off on my fingers. I immediately packed the whole set up and took them back to John Lewis; I had been using them for about a month at this point.
I did tell the assistant that the one pan had been through a dishwasher but I felt that had simply accelerated the process that had already begun on all of the pans. She admitted that they did seem to be lacking in surface coating and offered me an exchange set which I accepted as she said she had not had any returned before. I have now been using this new set for about 3 months and they still have a nice sheen on the outside and the coating seems intact so I think I did have a faulty batch originally.
---Would I Recommend Them?---
Overall I am reasonably happy with these saucepans. They cook evenly and quickly and do not allow food to stick at all which are the most important factors. The lack of a lid vent and the design failures which allow the lid and pan handles to get hot are quite irritating and the fact they cannot go through the dishwasher is a pain but I should have looked more closely when I purchased them. I think that the shelf edge label or the box should have stated that these weren't suitable for the dishwasher rather than just not saying that they were as they are obviously completely ruined by a dishwasher. I believe that they are being discontinued at the moment and a new "coated" version is coming out that should be hardier. I wouldn't recommend these pans to a friend as for the money I think you can buy more practical saucepans but unfortunately you can't tell that until you start using them!