MAGNALITE PROFESSIONAL COOKWARE: LEGEND OR MYTH
USE, CARE AND HELPFUL TIPS FOR MAGNALITE PROFESSIONAL:
If you have never used Magnalite Professional you have been missing out some of the best cookware ever produced. Sure, Copper is prettier and Stainless Steel is shiny, but when it comes to performance those who have used Magnalite Professional will rarely revert to any other kind of cookware! In certain areas of the country this cookware has almost obtained cult status! In fact after Katrina decimated New Orleans I had several eBay members contacting me to replace their beloved Magnalite Professional cookware! Even before replacing some of their other household goods! To those of us who have been lucky enough to use it, we are quite aware that it provides most of the best characteristics of quality cookware with very few drawbacks.
It is light, it heats quickly and retains heat well, it does not easily warp unless abused, it has heavy handles which do not loosen over time, it has nice heavy lids which help you when simmering or slow roasting in the oven. You can brown a roast properly on the stove-top and then place it directly into a heated oven and not worry if it will be damaged. You then end up with a nicely browned roast and a pan full of wonderful "fond", just right for making gravy! A roast which is juicy and appealing to the eye and palate! Not the "grey" meat that so many people eat and wonder why it wasn't as good as that roast they had at Mama Lu's house. It not only performs well during cooking but it is also easy to clean and if given minimal care there is no reason it should not last well over a hundred years and beyond!
The secret to using Mag Pro to its best potential is too understand its properties!
1. Any Magnalite Professional pan which is used for sauteeing or frying should be pre-seasoned when new and never cleaned with abrasive cleaners of any kind. Even if you accidentally scorch a Mag Pro pan do not scrub it with abrasive pads or use abrasive cleaners. Simply fill the pan with hot water add some dish detergent and let it soak for 4-5 hours. If there is still some "stuck-on" stuff simply repeat this process until the pan can be cleaned without abrasives. Be patient!
2. Treat the frying and saute pans exactly like your Grandmother treated her Cast Iron pans. You can normally simply wipe them out with paper towels after use but if you absolutely have to have them "squeaky clean" then just use normal dish detergent to wash them. Unlike Cast Iron however, they will not rust if you leave them wet.
3. The best performing Magnalite Professional (Frying & Saute) pans are competely darkened. It is referred to as "seasoning" and is the normal result of proper use. It may not be as attractive as it was when new (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) but it is the preferrable condition of the pans if you want to use them for thier intended purpose ie; cooking. If you want something beautiful to look at buy Copper Cookware!
4. Anodized Aluminum is harder than steel. It is completely safe to use metal utensils (within reason) with Magnalite Pro.
5. Because of Anodized Aluminum's hardness and unique character it will show "light marks" on the exterior surface if stored with other cookware. When you bump another steel, aluminum, copper, etc. pan into a Magnalite Pro pan the mark that is left is not damage to the Anodized Aluminum exterior, it is a small deposit of the other pan's metal left on the surface! Keep in mind that Magnalite Pro handles are not anodized, they are cast aluminum! That being said, if you bump a Magnalite Pro handle into a Magnalite Pro pan you will be transferring some metal from one pan to the other!
6. Any Magnalite Saucepans that are used for cooking acidic sauces on a regular basis (tomato sauce, sauces with vinegar, etc) will show lightening of the interior anodization. This is normal and does not affect the usefulness of the pan. The more you cook acidic sauces, the faster the interior surface will lighten. That is why you see Saucepans, and Stockpots with lightened interiors at an exact level around the inside of the pan. The pan was not "over-scrubbed" it has simply been used for cooking tomato sauces, et al. That is also why you see Mag Pro saucepans that almost look brand new on the exterior but thier interior is completley lightened. The effectiveness of the pan has not changed at all. It will continue to cook tomato sauces for years to come! In fact, once a Magnalite Professional pan loses its anodization it is essentially nothing more than a newer version of the older Magnalite Wagner Ware with a dark anodized exterior! If the loss of anodization bothers you then use other cookware like Enamel or Stainless Steel.
7. The "Aluminum Question" ie; the controversy regarding the use of aluminum cookware which could possibly add minute levels of aluminum into your body. There has also been some speculation that high levels of aluminum cause Alzheimer's.
I FORGET WHERE I READ THAT!
There has been no conclusive evidence to support that theory and personally I would be more concerned about Salmonella in my tomatoes, Mercury in my Seafood, and thousands of different "esters" and compounds of plastic from storing and microwaving foods in plastic!
8. If you have never used Magnalite Professional you will be pleasantly surprised when you do. Even if you don't buy it from me I strongly encourage you to give it a try! There is a wide selection of Mag Pro cookware out there including specialty items like bakeware, a Wok and Stir-Fry pan for Asian cooking, a Double boiler, a Steamer Insert, a Fish Poaching pan and many, many more, even some with a non-stick coating! (Just a note: You will quite often see the smaller "Stir-Fry" pan listed on eBay as a "Wok". They are two seperate pieces of cookware and are quite different in design! The "Stir-Fry" pan is 11" in diameter, relatively shallow and the "thickness" of the pan is identical to most of the other common Magnalite Professional pieces. The "Wok" is 14" in diameter is much deeper and able to hold more contents and most importantly is of much "thinner" construction. This was done intentionally by Magnalite so that the Wok would heat super-quickly and also come back to temperature faster than a heavier pan would. High heat is the key to using a Wok. It should be preheated to an extreme heat before adding the oil and then the ingredients you are "wokking" with. Sorry! When cooking with any Wok (Mag Pro) or otherwise always remember Hot Wok-Cold Oil. Never heat cold oil in the wok. You will end up with stuck, limp and tasteless results!
Another important note regarding Magnalite Professional Woks, Baking Pans, Cookie Sheets, and a few other selected pieces. They are not marked "Magnalite Professional" "GHC". In fact they are not marked at all. The thickness of the metal used for these pieces was too thin for GHC to stamp them with the Magnalite Professional logo. They are genuine Magnalite products! So be sure if you are new to the cookware and buy a Mag Pro Wok on eBay that you don't castigate the Seller for ripping you off. He sent you a genuine Mag Pro product. You can confirm that by the Handle style, shape of the handle where it is riveted to the Wok, and the style of rivets. No other product has been identical and no knock-offs have been marketed yet.
Some of the lighter pieces, ie; Cookie sheets and Baking pans have been produced with and without a very lightly engraved logo instead of the deeper stamped logo normally found on most Mag Pro products. Also keep an eye out for the great Magnalite Professional Stovetop Reversible Griddle and Pot Rack, niether which marked in any way!
9. Despite information which can be found on the Internet there is NO current production of Magnalite Professional in the US, from anyone, at any price. That is a shame but it is a reality. If you care to do an Internet search you will find a website which seems to have been posted by a former GHC executive who states that he purchased all the dies, stamping and.forging equipment necessary to produce the original Magnalite Professional line. It appears you can actually place a Credit Card order. Good luck with that! The company's listed phone numbers are out of service and emails sent to them are never answered!
10. It is amazing that a product that is so much in demand is not being produced. If you need proof of the demand, you only need to look at the prices Mag Pro has brought on the Internet. Nine times out of ten the pieces are selling as much or more in used condition than they did when new! There is a reason for that!
Good luck on your search!
I'M CONFUSED! HOW MANY MAGNALITES ARE THERE?
Magnalite Professional GHC....Magnalite Professional.....Wagner Ware Magnalite.....Magnalite Country Collection.....Magnalite Classic?
A. The first product was Magnalite by Wagner Ware. It was Aluminum cookware without any anodization. Immensely popular and quite readily available on eBay at reasonable prices. Quality cookware but without the added benefits of the later anodized Magnalite Professional. Prone to scratching and pitting if not well cared for.
B. Next came Magnalite Professional. Some of the pieces were identical in shape to the earlier Wagner Ware pieces but Mag Pro was Anodized and all the pieces had heavy riveted handles instead of cast handles.
C. Magnalite Professional GHC. Same product as "B" with the exception of an added "GHC" stamping to indicate General Housewares Corporation's purchase of the Magnalite line from Wagner Ware. I also believe there was a small period of time when the Magnalite Professional line was owned and produced by Chicago Cutlery but some of the pieces had no manufacturer's mark of any type!
D. Magnalite Country Collection. Many of the pieces were similar in appearance to Magnalite by Wagner Ware. They were not Anodized and they Wooden Knobs. I am unsure when this line was manufactured but it is much more difficult to find than other Magnalite cookware lines.
E. Magnalite Classic. This is tricky. Magnalite Classic is a recent attempt to duplicate Wagner Ware Magnalite. I believe this line was re-introduced by former Wagner employees in the US for a limited time but all the current pieces are being produced in China. All of the model numbers are identical to the former Wagner Ware products but the Chinese products are clearly marked "Made In China".
Most people will tell you that the quality of this product is not up to the Wagner Ware level. I have inspected the cookware and I would tend to agree with that assessment. However,, but it is very close! I personally found that the measurements ie; thickness, length, width, and depth of the Chinese cookware is amost identical to the former US produced cookware. In fact the lids are completely interchangeable and from a distance I would challenge anyone to consistently identify the diefference. Where the Chinese line does fall short, is in the casting, fitting and quality of the aluminum. The castings don't seem to be quite as refined. Perhaps they use the same molds but don't do as much finish work. The Chinese pans also seem to stain more easily than the earlier US pans. They may not use the exact blend of aluminum that was used in the US.
The performance however is quite close so if you are on a budget and have no other choice the Chinese pans are definitely an option. I would be more reluctant to buy it simply because I hate to send my money outside the US. We need it here! If you don't feel that way then by all means go for it. Just remember that the ""Made in China" will not rub off and even if it doesn't bother you now, it may later!
THIS COOKWARE IS GREAT. IT IS IN DEMAND AND COOKS IN THE KNOW LOVE IT! WHY DID GHC QUIT PRODUCING IT!
The simple answer is due to the warranty! When Magnalite Professional hit the market the entire cookware line was warranted for 100 years! While there is no question that a large percentage of Magnalite Professional pans will still be in use on their 100th birthday most of them will not have all of thier original anodization. Actually, most don't already!
This was a crucial factor in the downfall of the company. Magnalite Professional cookware came with specific instructions on how to properly season, use and clean the product. Unfortunately, a large percentage of purchasers simply used them exactly as they had been using thier cheap stainless and Teflon coated discount store cookware. Magnalite specifically instructed thier customers to "use less heat" and not use "abrasive cleaners". What they failed to do is refuse to offer warranty replacements for products which were improperly used!
Magnalite Professional was sold in high-end stores like Macy's, Dillards and a host of other upscale retailers. If a customer abused their Magnalite cookware, a new replacement was quickly available from those local retailers whose policy was to keep customers happy. Thousands and thousands of Magnalite owners used thier cookware for 6,7,8,9, 10 months, 1 year, etc. and then promptly requested a replacement because the anodization was damaged. The retailers who didn't want to displease their customers replaced the cookware on the spot. No questions. Here is your new Saute Pan Mr. Smith! The retailers did not question the customers regarding the correct use of the product. Even if the customer sent the pan to GHC themselves they generally almost always got a replacement piece with no questions asked! GHC was stuck. They either had to deal with an unhappy customer personally or with retailers who were doleing out warranty replacements in ever-increasing numbers. An unenviable position to say the least!
It spelled doom for the product line. GHC suddenly found themselves inundated with warranty issues and the cookware line had only been out for a few years. Most of it still had over 95 years of warranty left! Had they only honored warranty claims for damage caused by manufacturing defects they would still be in business today. I am quite confident that at least 90% of the warranty requests were due to customer neglect or improper use of the cookware!
Speaking for myself, I still own the few pieces I originally received as gift back in either the late 70's or early 80's. I also have many additional pieces purchased starting from that era to the time GHC quit production. Many of my Mag Pro pieces still retain at leas 98% of thier original anodized finish on both the interior and exterior. Some however do not. They are mostly the pans I got early and didn't care for properly or they are the pans with years of making Spaghetti sauce,.Salsa, and other heavily laden acidic sauces.
If only GHC would have been a little less concerned with thier customer satisfaction we would still have a access to brand new Magnalite Professional cookware! Ironic, isn't it?
ENJOY YOUR MAG PRO COOKWARE AND CARE FOR IT PROPERLY!
IF YOU DO, YOUR GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN WILL BE COOKING WITH IT!
DON'T FORGET. YOU STILL HAVE 72 YEARS OF WARRANTY LEFT!