Whenever I teach canning classes, someone asks me to recommend a good jam pan. Here’s what I tell them. Every jam maker has their own favorite piece of cookware, so there’s never going to be a single, one-size-fits-all pan for me to name. Some people prefer copper confiture pans. Others like enameled cast iron. And yet, other folks like stainless steel.
I use all three materials, and choose depending on the size of the batch and which pan is clean and readily accessible. However, my default is stainless steel. The reasons for that are practical ones. Because stainless steel isn’t a reactive metal, I can combine my fruit and sugar in the pan directly (with copper, you have to dissolve the sugar into the fruit prior to putting it in the pan, otherwise you can wind up with some metallic flavor leaching).
The second reason is that if I get distracted and accidentally burn my preserve (it happens to the best of us), I can almost always scrub and soak the burnt spot off the bottom of the pan. I’ve learned the hard (painful, in fact) way that it’s much more challenging to recover from a burn on an enameled cast iron pan.
Once I get through those basics, I then name two pots that make really good jam pans. The reasons I like these two are that they are both stainless steel, hold eight quarts and are relatively low and wide (the more surface area, the better your jam will cook).
The high end pot I recommend is the All-Clad Tri-Ply 8 Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot. It’s a great pot but constitutes a serious investment of funds. Depending on where you buy it and what grade you get, you’ll pay between $230 and $600.
On the more affordable end is the Sur La Table-brand Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8 Quart Stock Pot (it also comes with a strainer insert that I use mostly for steaming). It’s not quite as low and wide as the All-Clad pot, but it is far more affordable and still does a really good job.
And here we get to the reason I’m writing this post. Currently, Sur La Table is having their Once a Year Sale and their tri-ply cookware is heavily discounted. Normally, this pot goes for $169.95. Currently, it is on sale for $101.96. That is a great price for a heavy, durable, workhorse pot. It can even double as a Dutch oven, so you can use it for no-knead bread and any other thing you might want to braise low and slow.
So, if you’re in the market for an affordable, really awesome stainless steel pot, consider yourself duly informed that this is a screaming deal on that very item.
Disclosure: Sur La Table did not ask me to write this post and I am receiving nothing for having done so. I wrote it as a service, because I always appreciate it when people clue me in to useful things at a good price.
One more thing: The reason that there is such a price differential is that All-Clad is made in the U.S. and the Sur La Table pots are made in China. Global dynamics at work!