i have done both, you are right that wet is more tolerant (or at least seems that way).
maybe my post didn't make this seem very clear but i have made *a lot* of caramels, some successes, some failures. i could continue to get by in the saucepan i have, but it's so temperamental that i need to be extremely cautious which is annoying and time consuming. on top of that it is 1qt, which is smaller than i'd prefer, so i would still purchase a new pan if only to have something larger, but less than my giant stockpot. i have also experimented with using my saute pan (to see if my pan was the issue) and the caramelization process was significantly easier, but i can't actually use that pan for the whole process since its dimensions would make using a thermometer impossible (and i'm not keen on not using one)
yeah this is something i don't understand.. above in the thread it says "definitely no aluminum", and i've seen a couple other sentiments on other forums through google but always from the perspective that aluminum is always bad and never "i made this with aluminum and my caramels were grey and tasted like a car bumper".
thanks for the tip about revereware, i will keep that in mind if i go that route
does anyone know if the unlined aluminum pot would discolor/give foul taste to the caramels?
i've been trying to learn to cook over the past few months and one thing i've become taken with is making salted butter caramels. however, i use a very cheap ikea saucepan which not only is too small (the bubbling of the caramels means i can only make so much at once), but it conducts heat poorly and unevenly and it gives me much trouble.. i've learned i must melt the sugar in several waves and run the whole process at very low heat or i will risk burning the sugar or ruining the caramel texture, meaning something i might be able to accomplish in <30m takes me something in the neighborhood of 90m.
i have read that the premium option for cooking sugar (or delicate sauces) is copper but i am a cheap and functional minded person and $200+ for a saucepan does not strike me as the most cost effective option. i don't care if the pot looks pretty, has a lid, or can even go in the dishwasher and i am totally ok with a more "disposable" lifespan if the price matches. i just want something that will heat up my sugar well and not mess with the taste or anything.
i want something in the 1.5-2qt range and i'd really prefer it to be a bit on the narrow/tall side in design (height at or more than 60% the diameter) so my thermometer will not have trouble reading the temperature
from my research my options seem to be
-industry style bare aluminum saucepan. i do not know if bare aluminum is ok for what i want to use it for, but i do know that it's inexpensive. a vollrath "arkadia" 1.5qt saucepan is quite narrow and should be <15$
-consumer brand stainless steel w/ aluminum disc bottom saucepan. - ofc these vary in price hugely by brand and whether i get it off amazon or bed bath and beyond but should be somewhere from $20 to $50. this is also what i'm cooking in now so i'm hesitant, but i'm open to it on the assumption a higher quality mfr would be a better experience
-antique stainless steel with copper bottom saucepan. - i've noticed that one can buy used revereware saucepans from the 60's with a little bit of looking which are stainless steel with a copper base. i should be able to find one in decent looking quality for $20-30. a downside is these seem to be rather wide from my research, sides are ~50% the diameter in 1.5 and 2qt options.
-steel/aluminum clad - the all clad 2qt is the perfect dimensions but way too pricey, so i'd be looking at cuisinart or tramontina or one of the other bargain clad options where i should be able to get a saucepan in the ~$50 range
-sitram stainless steel with copper base - this was the only copper/stainless steel disc style i could find, runs like ~$70 on amazon for a 1.5qt which is kinda pricey.
edit: forgot to mention i have a gas range.