Fissler: The “BMW-Hybrid” of Cookware
October 28, 2007 by tw
Gourmet Performance Meets Energy-Efficiency
in Pressure Cooker, Pots, and Skillet
Reviewed by Kate Heyhoe
Fissler cookware has me racing to, and through, the kitchen. Their German precision engineering has cooked up some radically efficient features, saving time for the cook and fuel for the planet. If you want to be a greener gourmet, take a look at the energy-saving aspects of these Fissler pieces, and while the cost is high-end, these pieces should deliver a lifetime of quality for the price.
Smart, Solid Base: Starting from the ground up, Fissler’s proprietary CookStar base integrates nifty energy-efficient aspects, while enhancing the cooking performance on all types of cooktops, including induction.
The CookStar base is slightly concave when cool so that it lies perfectly flat when heated, maximizing the contact between pot base and heat source, thus saving energy. Plus, the super-conductive, extra-thick base heats up quickly and retains heat so well, you can turn the burner down (or off) early and let residual heat in the base finish the cooking. Like a bridge, the base features expansion joints, and consists of stainless steel and aluminum bonded by 1500 tons of heated pressure into one single unit (not triple layers as in other cookware), with no hot spots, so it’s guaranteed never to warp and to stay flat on any type of stove forever. The Cookstar base is built into most of their new cookware, including the items below.
Blue Point’s Pressure is On, or Off: Compared to conventional pots, pressure cookers inherently reduce fuel consumption by cooking foods faster, and they retain more nutrients. Fissler’s Blue Point Pressure Cooker design takes the pressure cooker concept a step further: It’s totally silent during operation, because the cooker seals completely and won’t release steam unless over-pressurized. The less steam released, the cooler the kitchen; and less water is needed because of the lower degree of water loss. Nutrients are also less diluted. Result: healthier, tastier eating and improved energy-efficiency (what’s not to like?). In fact, you can save up to 50 percent of the energy used in conventional cooking, and cook up to 70 percent quicker. Plus, the unit does double-duty: the Blue Point pressure cooker can function as a conventional pot and lid, simply by not sliding the pressure seal button forward. It’s like the hybrid model of pressure cookers, like having two pots for the price of one. (Blue Point pressure cookers also benefit from the efficient CookStar all-stove base, and come in several sizes.)
The Intensa Investment: Fissler designed their Intensa cookware (also with the CookStar base) with unique, efficient features not found in other pots. The lids feature a “ThermoStar” temperature indicator, which turns completely red when the boiling point is reached and partially red when liquids are near boiling (good for low-water, lid-on cooking and simmering). Keeping the lids on helps minimize heat loss, maximize nutrition, and lessens fuel consumption. That’s not all though. Turn the lid ninety degrees in one direction and the pot’s completely sealed. Turn it back and you can pour out liquids with the lid on, using the gently curved rims of the pot. And you don’t need potholders to do it, given the stay-cool handles. The handle on the lid is big, comfortable and open (see the picture), so you can grasp it with your whole hand. Okay, I was more than adequately impressed at this point. Then I discovered that the side handles function as lid holders, too, and the underside of the lids are conical, so condensed liquids drip back into the pot. (No more messy drips from a hot lid, or searching for a place to rest it.) Other details, like stackability and measuring levels (in liters) no doubt helped this cookware win multiple awards for design. I use their stewpot and stovetop casserole pots almost every day now, and they also make saucepans and lower-depth serving pans with the same Intensa features.
A Crisp Idea in Fry Pans: Perhaps the most frequently used pan in the kitchen is the skillet, and the German ingenuity in Fissler’s Crispy Steelux Frypan makes it cool to look at and a hot piece of cookware. Again, it’s got the CookStar base so it heats up quickly and holds heat evenly. The interior has a thick honeycomb texture, so you can fry/pan-grill foods with no or little oil. When I cooked salmon in the skillet, the exterior was perfectly browned, and the skin was crispy-delicious.
Optional Equipment: Fissler makes a nifty splatter shield (usable on all size skillets), that mounts upright on their skillet handles, while you’re peeking or turning the food. It’s handy and less messy than standard splatter guards. Their glass lids let you view food as it cooks, and come with stay-cool handles, so no pot-holder required.
Fissler’s Protect Steelux Frypan boasts their Protectal Plus as the strongest of all nonstick surfaces, with the heating benefits of the CookStar base. But the real test of a nonstick surface is how well it endures over time, without bubbling or peeling. Fissler’s confidence comes with a five-year No Peel Guarantee under any circumstances (check back with me within that time and I’ll give you on update). Be sure to temper the pan when you first use it (it’s easy, takes minutes and you only do it once.) As with all nonstick surfaces, avoid cooking above medium-high heat or heating an empty pan for long periods. (Use the Crispy pan above for high-heat cooking.) So what makes Fissler’s nonstick surface better than others? I asked for details, and I got them. According to their spokesperson:
Fissler’s proprietary Protectal Plus is extremely hard because of its ingredients (ceramic, titanium, and microparticles), and durable because the way the coating is applied and bonded (pretreatment, three-layer composition, and pressure). Competitor models may only use two layers of sealing on a smooth pan surface, and many sealings do not have the microparticles that permit a longer, more effective nonstick lifespan. Ceramic and titanium are present in only the highest-quality coatings, and Fissler’s application technique and proprietary blends of materials set us apart from our competition. Protectal Plus won the highest rating as the strongest nonstick coating from the Stiftung Warentest testing body in Germany (comparable to Consumer Reports in the United States).This translates into better nonstick properties for a longer period of time. Even if the consumer scratches one of these pans, the surface damage is minimized because of the pretreating technique and the hardeners in the coating formula (it will not peel). Protectal Plus is not a DuPont product, and is present only in Fissler pans; it contains PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), but is not unsafe, does not release toxins unless heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and is also not digestable by the human body, so if the user manages to remove small amounts of coating through harsh use, the substance will simply be passed through the body. We guarantee that there will be no chipping or peeling for 5 years of use. Bottom line: Consumers who want a premium nonstick product, that diffuses heat evenly, will last a long time, and is less susceptible to damage, then they’ve found a solution in Fissler’s pans sealed with Protectal Plus.
One last word: Fissler’s Steelux skillet handles stay cool, but can only withstand oven temperatures up to 285 degrees F (okay for warming drawers but not ovens or broilers). If you need a skillet for oven use, I suggest augmenting these with a Lodge cast-iron skillet.
(Fissler’s Intensa cookware, Blue Point pressure cookers and Crispy Steelux frypan range from $120-300 MSRP, and also come in sets. They come with a limited lifetime warranty.)