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I just realized the recipe I use for Chardonnay Beurre Blanc requires the use of a "small nonreactive saucepan."

In the past, I have used my 1.5 quart All-Clad saucepan without problems.

What sort of pan materials should I avoid?

Similarly, I've seen recipes indicate one should use a nonreactive bowl. I typically use plastic in those cases. Should I be using something different?

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Try cooking tomato sauce in a cast-iron pan some time... You'll learn a whole new meaning for "irony".

A non-reactive pan is one that allows you to cook or store acidic foods without dissolving, leaching, or otherwise causing contamination. Good materials for such pans include glass, stainless steel, food-grade plastic, ceramic, porcelain, and hard anodized aluminum. Bad materials include cast-iron, copper, and aluminum.

Plastic bowls should be fine for most purposes, however keep in mind that small scratches in the plastic may harbor contaminants that will be freed by the acid. So clean them well, or switch to glass.

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  • Can you clarify what is meant by “try cooking tomato sauce in cast iron”? I cook shakshuka in cast iron often and have not had any troubles. – dpollitt May 10 at 23:44
  • Short cook time in a well-seasoned pan will probably not do anything harmful, @dpollitt. Long cook times are another story: if the acid makes it through the seasoning, the flavor will be ruined. America's Test Kitchen found the flavor noticeable after 30 minutes - this will vary with pan and acidity, but if you're planning a multi-hour simmer, a non-reactive pan will be needed. – Shog9 May 11 at 0:14
  • Thanks, that makes sense. – dpollitt May 11 at 0:19
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Non-reactive means stainless steel or ceramic-lined; not copper, cast-iron, or aluminum which tend to react with acidic foods in particular. Glass is non-reactive as well (for bowls).

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  • 2
    I would add aluminum as one to avoid as well. And as for non-reactive bowls, I would use glass. – Paused until further notice. Sep 12 '10 at 21:33
  • Quite right, editing my answer. – Michael Natkin Sep 12 '10 at 22:02
  • PTFE nonstick would probably be considered nonreactive as well... – rackandboneman Jul 19 '17 at 8:24

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