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Fondue Product Basics

Fondue pots are inexpensive and easy to find at any store or online retailers

Originally, fondue was prepared in a heavy earthenware pot called a "caquelon." They were also made of enameled iron and glazed ceramics. These can still be purchased. Today's fondue pots and accessories have not changed significantly over the past few decades.

When you begin shopping for a new fondue set, you'll find plenty of options and a range of prices, from $15 to more than $50. How you use your fondue set may help determine which to purchase. Most fondue pots are 1-quart or 2-quart in size.

Fondue sets are pretty basic. They include the pot, a stand, and a container with a diffuser for the canned heat or tea light. Some units utilize sterno, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol in gel or liquid form (these may not be interchangeable). The heat source may not be included in the fondue set.

You can also find sets that include accessories such as color-coded skewers and forks, as well as condiment bowls and lazy susans. Some units include a fork rack, a spatula for stirring, and sauce spoons. You can supplement with bamboo skewers, but long-handled fondue forks are always best.

Fondue pots may be enamel, cast iron, or stainless steel. You can also find non-stick models on the market. Enamel works best for cheese and chocolate recipes as it does not conduct heat as well as other materials. That is a definite advantage for the slow and low cooking required for these two items. Stainless does conduct heat very well, but enameled iron is often recommended for oils and broths because of its weight. However, either can be used for any type of fondue with the proper handling. Control of fire is necessary; i.e., highest heat for oils and lowest flame for cheeses.

Even with higher end fondue pots, it is best to heat your ingredients on the stove and then transfer them to the pot or warmer (if the pot itself is stovetop safe) for continued warmth.

A good fondue pot may also be notched on the bottom to rest safely on the heating stand. Some can go from the stovetop to the heater stand.

If a lazy susan or other type of protective piece is included, make sure it is tempered glass. Never place a fondue pot on anything that can slide, such as a tablecloth.

If you plan to use your fondue set frequently for both low- and high-heat recipes, look for sets that include more than one pot; these are designed to handle any type of fondue.

Always follow manufacturer's instructions for the particular model you have chosen.

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