Alternatives To Teflon Frying Pans

teflon-toxicIn Chapter 4 of Listen To Your Gut, I write about the dangers of Teflon-coated (and other non-stick coated) pots and pans and give you all the data on why we shouldn’t use them.

Well, following is an interesting article from the New York Times, written by someone else who heard about the dangers of Teflon and set out to test a number of different pans to see which one worked best and was the easiest to cook with and clean up afterwards.

I was amused by the fact that she rated the enamel-coated Le Creuset pan as the best out of them all. I have one Le Creuset frying pan (bought while my hubby had a contract in Singapore and was making loads of moola – they’re very expensive) and I have to say I like it the best as well! A full set is definitely on my wish list of things to buy when I have enough money.

Dr. Joseph Mercola recently launched a new line of nano-glaze ceramic pots and pans. However, when I looked up the patent for this new nano-glaze technology, there seemed to me to be a lot of glue involved in getting the nano-sized ceramic particles to adhere to the surface of the pans. 

I emailed Mercola asking about the glue and if they had done testing to see if any chemicals from the glue were leaching during the cooking process, but received no response.

nanoglaze-cookwareMy other hesitation with this new nano-glaze cookware is that having spent several months now researching nanotechnology – specifically nanoparticle minerals – I am also concerned about whether the nanoparticle-sized ceramic glaze components leach into food or the air.

You know how we now have washing machines with nanosilver sterilization cycles and socks with nanosilver antibacterial protection? Well, now we’ve also found that the nanoparticle silver in the wash water is entering our ground water and in turn altering the algae and bacterial balance in waterways and ponds, etc.

Joe Mercola states that they tested for any leaching of common metals (like you can get from other pans), but you would have to test specifically for leaching of nanoparticle-sized compounds – which is a very different process.

So whilst those pots (and their light weight) are very appealing, I wish someone would carry out the testing necessary to answer these questions – until we have more data I won’t be trying them.

Anyway, onto the article….

____________________________________________________

In Search of a Pan That Lets Cooks Forget About Teflon

By: Marian Burros, New York Times
 – June 7, 2006

LIKE many home cooks, I have sent my nonstick skillets to the moldy recesses of my basement, where they have joined the 1950′s aluminum pots and the Dru casseroles (Dutch enamel coated cast iron, now eBay collectibles).

What led to this step were unsettling reports that an overheated Teflon-coated pan may release toxic gases. DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, says that its pans are safe and that their surfaces won’t decompose, possibly releasing the gas, until the pan’s temperature reaches 680 degrees. Some scientists say that an empty pan left on a burner set on high reaches 700 degrees in as little as three minutes. All pans with nonstick coatings are subject to the same problems, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization. I banished the skillets last year and spent months dithering over what to buy while making do with the pans I had left: a large Revere Ware skillet with a concave bottom; a small, warped hand-me-down from my mother; and a medium All-Clad in fine shape.

A few passes at online pot sellers made matters worse: there are too many choices. Finally, after consulting the ratings from Consumer Reports and Cook’s Illustrated and calling several experts, I decided to do a test of my own, using the most highly recommended pans, along with a few of my own choices.

While Teflon lets manufacturers make inexpensive pans usable, uncoated cheap pans have hot spots, so cheaper pans – other than cast iron – were never considered. The most important characteristic was how close the pans came to having the nonstick qualities people love about Teflon. Can they sauté and brown, even without oil? Almost as important, how easy are they to clean?

There were eight pans in the test, most of them 12 inches in diameter: All-Clad with an aluminum core, All-Clad with a copper core, Bourgeat copper; De Buyer carbon steel; Calphalon anodized aluminum; seasoned and unseasoned Lodge cast iron and Le Creuset enameled cast iron.

All-Clad was one of the top choices of most experts, but did not do well in my tests because sometimes food stuck to the pans and cleaning them was difficult. Top chefs with whom I spoke agreed. “All of my All-Clad sauté pans have brown spots on the sides and outside, too,” said Scott Conant of L’Impero and Alto. “And eggs always stick.”

That’s the nature of stainless steel, said Harold McGee, author of “On Food and Cooking” (Scribner, 2004) and the scientist who can explain everything that happens in the kitchen. “Things stick to stainless,” he said, “and polymerized oil is one of them.”

For the two sets of tests, I cooked 6 dozen eggs; 24 pounds of chicken breasts with and without skin; 10 pounds of onions; and 10 pounds of potatoes. In one set of tests, pans were coated with one tablespoon of oil; in the other just a thin film of oil was applied with waxed paper. All the pans were preheated, the oil added and allowed to get hot enough to ripple; the food had lost its refrigerator chill.

With a tablespoon of oil, all of the pans cooked well and evenly. The chicken was nicely browned, the potatoes were crisp, the onions were meltingly sweet and the eggs were nicely done. The difference between cooking in All-Clad with copper and with aluminum is not significant enough for most cooks to make the more expensive copper pan worth the higher price. The Bourgeat copper pan, of course, cooked quickly and evenly, too, but the differences are too subtle in most situations to be worth the extra money.

But with just a film of oil, neither the All-Clad nor the Bourgeat pans cooked chicken or onions without sticking badly. But then, they don’t claim to be nonstick. The remaining pans cooked well with just a film of oil.

le-creuset-tealThe Le Creuset pan and the two cast-iron pans produced amazing results. Nothing stuck, including the eggs, and it was quite easy to roll up omelets. There were almost no eggs to scrape up. I don’t recommend browning potatoes or onions with a film of oil because they won’t have much flavor, but these pans could do it.

 The chicken, on the other hand, was moist and browned beautifully, a result you wouldn’t get with Teflon-coated pans.

Calphalon did not do as well with just a film of oil: the chicken was nicely browned, but an awful lot of scrambled eggs stayed in the pan.

The carbon steel, an old workhorse that wins the prize for ugly duckling, cooked all the foods, with the exception of the eggs, quite well. Like the Calphalon, this pan had a lot of scrambled egg left in it, and one of the sunny-side-up eggs broke when it was being lifted out of the pan.

The only other difference was that the cast-iron pans, with or without enamel, took longer to heat up and cool down.
But bigger differences became clear when it was time for cleaning, the kitchen job I like least. The All-Clad, even more so than Bourgeat, required serious scrubbing to remove those pesky little brown spots that form when oil leaps up the sides of the pan and sticks. And food does stick to All-Clad sometimes, requiring removal by cleanser and elbow grease.

Cleaning the cast iron, Le Creuset and carbon steel was very easy. Food that clings to them can be easily scrubbed away with a stiff brush or, in the case of Le Creuset, soaked off. (Soap is not recommended for cast iron and carbon steel, but it can be used on the Le Creuset and the Calphalon.) Unlike the Calphalon and carbon steel, the cast-iron and enameled pans are heavy. The handles get hot, so pot holders must be used.

The carbon steel and the untreated cast iron must be seasoned, though the process is simple. They must be dried thoroughly and lightly oiled or they will rust.

 Cooking certain acidic foods like tomatoes in cast iron changes the taste and color, but it does add iron to the diet.

After all the tests, there was one pan I fell for: Le Creuset. It is easy to clean, and because of its enamel finish, acidic foods can be cooked without changes to color or taste. The cast iron pans were a very close second.

I recommend Le Creuset pans with a matte black enamel interior, not treated with any Teflon-like substance. (The company makes its black and white interior enamel from the same material, and says the black is fired at a higher temperature and withstands higher cooking temperatures.) David Bouley of Bouley and Danube said he uses Le Creuset in his country house because “it is the most reliable.”

For cooking fish, one of the most delicate of foods, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin uses cast iron, as does Michel Richard of Citronelle in Washington. “We stopped using Teflon a long time ago,” he said. “The skin started coming off, and I didn’t want to give you a steak with a skin coating.

____________________________________________________

Happy Cooking!

Jini

93 Comments

93 thoughts on “Alternatives To Teflon Frying Pans

  1. Jini: Hi, my name is Rich Bergstrom and I am the founder and owner of Ceramcor. We make all of the cookware for Dr. Mercola. You are correct about the hazzards about teflon and PTFE coatings. The Mercola cookware does not contain any nano particles. We use the term nano as a marketing term because the glaze is made up of many small particles of ceramic minerals in the glaze. Our glaze is fired at 2600F which bonds all of the minerals together forming a solid non-porous surface. Our cookware is 100% green and 100% safe for the environment. That is not true about metal cookware and you do need to visit a steel mill to see the kind of pollution that it produces. Metal pans coated with an enamel cooking surface can not be heated over 500F or else the enamel surface will start to errode. Our Mercola cookware is also called Xtrema cookware and please visit our web site at http://www.ceramcor.com the see why our cookware is the healthiest cookware being sold in the USA. Blessings – Rich



  2. Hi Rich, thanks so much for commenting. Hmmm, so the major thrust of your marketing is based on something that isn’t true? How can that be good for business long-term?

    But you still haven’t answered my question about the glue – oh, except if your product really isn’t composed of nanoparticle-sized ceramic, then the patent I researched no longer applies…Although, then wouldn’t it be illegal – or at least an infringement – for you to be using a technology or registered mark that belongs to someone else? Okay, now I’m really confused.

    I’m honestly not being sarcastic here – I’m just thinking out loud as I type. Because you need to understand that my motivation is that I too am currently not happy with my cookware and would LOVE to switch to something more ‘healthy’ that doesn’t weigh a ton (like the Le Creuset). So any further info you can give (the more detailed the better) would be great.
    thanks,
    Jini



  3. Jini:

    Our patent is very much alive but we are alway’ striving to make our product better and we are improving our product each and every day. The term nano means billions. Our ceramic glaze is made of billion of ceramic oxides that when fired become one solid non-porous solid surface. There is no glue in our glaze and I personally have never heard about glue being in any ceramic glazes. Most glazes are fired at very high temperatures exceeding 1600F. Our product and glaze is fired at 2600F. Steel can melt at 2400F. I do know for a fact that making is cast iron cookware is very toxic to both the worker and the environment. Our product is 100% worker and enviromentally friendly. We make the most innovative ceramic cookware in the world and we are changing the way food cooks and taste one kitchen at a time. Metal cookware adds no value to the taste of the food, only ceramic material with their far infrared heat can make the food taste better. We believe in healthy eating and healthy cooking using cookware that is free of any heavy metals. Blesings – :)



  4. Jini: Okay and there is no glue in our glaze and I never heard of glue being used in any ceramic glaze. The term nano means billion and there are billions of natural minerals and oxides that make up our non porous glaze so that is why we call our glaze nano glaze. There is much confusion about the term nano. Our glaze is fired at 2600F which makes our glaze in to a solid mass and there are no nano particles that can flake off. It is imposible to scratch the surface of our cookware. Please note that metals can melt from 1700 to 2400F but not our product.

    Our ceramic cookware will make your food taste better becasue our ceramic material produces far infar red energy which allows your food to cook from the outside and the inside at the same time where metal cookware only cooks the food from the outside.

    Our product is lighter than cast iron and the manufacturing of cast iron is toxic to the factory woker and the environment. Our cookware does not leach heavy metal which can happen with metal cookware. We are an alternative to metal cookware and that is why Coring Ware when it was made was so successful in the USA. We are the new ceramic alternative – blessings – :) Rich – founder of Ceramcor



  5. Rich – I just found this bit of interesting information on the history of nanoparticle glazes. If your product uses a similar technology/process, then this would be a good indication for the long-term safety:

    “Although nanoparticles are generally considered an invention of modern science, they actually have a very long history. Nanoparticles were used by artisans as far back as the 9th century in Mesopotamia for generating a glittering effect on the surface of pots.

    Even these days, pottery from the Middle Ages and Renaissance often retain a distinct gold or copper colored metallic glitter. This so called luster is caused by a metallic film that was applied to the transparent surface of a glazing. The luster can still be visible if the film has resisted atmospheric oxidation and other weathering.

    The luster originated within the film itself, which contained silver and copper nanoparticles dispersed homogeneously in the glassy matrix of the ceramic glaze. These nanoparticles were created by the artisans by adding copper and silver salts and oxides together with vinegar, ochre and clay, on the surface of previously-glazed pottery. The object was then placed into a kiln and heated to about 600 °C in a reducing atmosphere.

    In the heat the glaze would soften, causing the copper and silver ions to migrate into the outer layers of the glaze. There the reducing atmosphere reduced the ions back to metals, which then came together forming the nanoparticles that give the colour and optical effects.

    Luster technique showed that ancient craftsmen had a rather sophisticated empirical knowledge of materials. The technique originated in the Islamic world. As Muslims were not allowed to use gold in artistic representations, they had to find a way to create a similar effect without using real gold. The solution they found was using luster.

    Michael Faraday provided the first description, in scientific terms, of the optical properties of nanometer-scale metals in his classic 1857 paper. In a subsequent paper, the author (Turner) points out that: “It is well known that when thin leaves of gold or silver are mounted upon glass and heated to a temperature which is well below a red heat (~500 °C), a remarkable change of properties takes place, whereby the continuity of the metallic film is destroyed. The result is that white light is now freely transmitted, reflection is correspondingly diminished, while the electrical resistivity is enormously increased.”

    SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanoparticle



  6. I too was curious about safer cookware and found your blog when searching for info about the nano-glaze since I was interested in the ceramcor pans…until I read Bergstrom’s response. Regarding nano, the term actually means billionth (as in 0.000 00 001) not billion (as in 1,000,000,000, referred to as giga). It is used for things that are incredibly small or low in number…not high. Further, the lack of appropriate grammar from the founder and owner of the company and the vague nonsensical explanation makes me distrust the statements. I wanted to know what the “nano-glaze” contained; it concerns me that they do not disclose this information. Further, I can’t find any patent. Do any of you know where this was filed (in which country), under what name and patent number? Anyways, thank you for the review on the other cookware products; it was actually fairly thorough and informative.



  7. More importantly, what’s UNDER the ceramic particles? most of these nonstick ceramic pans have Aluminium. The ceramic coating is so thin that it is certainly possible that nano holes are created down o the alumnium and the aluminium leaches into your food.



  8. This discussion is awesome! I’m looking for healthy cookware options, especially my skillet which I use every day. I’m currently using cast iron – I make EVERYTHING in it. If it’s seasoned properly, it’s great. And yes, I do make eggs, and no, they don’t stick. I season with coconut oil and bake in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes, then let cool at room temp. I usually do this two or three times in a row to season. Only thing I haven’t tried to cook in my cast iron is tomatoes.

    Anyway, I’m wondering – are the ceramcor skillets SOLID ceramic, or are they a nano-coating over some other substrate? I’ve seen the video of Dr. Mercola talking about them, and the fact that if you drop them they will break, but I don’t see any info regarding what the pan is actually made out of and what material is under the glaze. I’m also wondering what’s different about your nano-glaze vs. other pots that are ‘nano-ceramic’ and which are a fraction of the cost.

    Thanks!



  9. Talk about a misuse of terms. Nano particles refer to the size of the particles that make up the substance. Not the atoms in the substance, as they are all nano particles. To say that something is made up of billions of particles is so wrong, as everything is made up of atoms that consists of billions of atoms. A drop of water contains billions and billions of atoms. Thus water is a nano particle? Gosh, it might kill me!

    A lot of this is just nonsense to a material scientist. What is important is the breakdown temperature of a material (so that the particles that consist the material can leave the matrix and migrate to another material, like you body or the food being cooked), the density of the material (which is related to its hardness and abrasive resistance), the flaking resistance (the bonding energy of one molecule to another and the shear planes of that bonding). The term ceramic means many many things, but the basic definition is (from wikipedia) “A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling.[1] Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous (e.g., a glass). Because most common ceramics are crystalline, the definition of ceramic is often restricted to inorganic crystalline materials, as opposed to the noncrystalline glasses.” However, it can also contain metallic particles. It is basically a glass. Can be fired or non fired. Can be glazed or non glazed.

    Ceramics can be high density, medium or low. They can be light or heavy. They can be conductive or nonconductive. It is a very broad term.

    Under some of the scenarios presented here then ceramic knives are very dangerous to use because of their nano particles!

    None of these have really been scientifically tested for the proper determination of what is happening, and most of it is really just marketing hype, as admitted by the owner himself. I would love to see real data on surface hardness, leaching testing, heat breakdown testing, material density, and then have these results published as real date. Leaching is different from heat, but can be related. Leaching refers to the passing of one material to another because of a fluid action and chemical reaction, whereas the material can outgas because of heat ( with nano particles?). They way to do this is use a mass spectrometer and measure the resultant fluids in the pan before and after and then do the same for temperatures and then with a gas spectrometer. The rest is just marketing hype for someone to make money from their product, whether it is safe or not.



  10. Pretty much all ceramics are made from nano particles, so my plants sitting in clay pots are using “nano technology.” Nano is a buzz word nowadays, but it only really matters for semiconductors. While I think this RIch guy is an idiot (“far infrared heat can make the food taste better” makes absolutely no sense), I don’t think you need to worry about the nano particles, when the particles are fired they sinter together so they bond together and become one solid piece, although it can be porous. Ceramics are fired at high enough temperatures anything that would come out during cooking is already long gone.

    I’m a metallurgist, not a materials scientist, otherwise I would rip into this guy more.



  11. Pingback: Your Questions About Saucepans

  12. CATHY – the glass cookware is safe and non-toxic. Some say you need to be careful about shattering, but I’ve never had glass baking dishes break or explode.



  13. I wanted to comment on the frequently repeated and misleading claim that you can test for nickel contents using magnets.
    I have seen it on many websites and I wonder where this claim originated. Was it Ray Peat’s statement?

    First of all, 99% of cookware uses austenic 18/8 or 18/10 steel with nickel contents 8-10%. Stainless steel without nickel is prone to developing rust spots, is less shiny and generally would be a great turn off for an average buyer. I remember reading reviews of 18/0 (no nickel) stainless steel flatware on amazon. Buyers were really disappointed and many of them decided to return the product to the vendor. The flatware couldn’t stand the harsh environment of a dishwasher and began to rust.
    Cookware without nickel would be either very old or expensive – sold as a “health” product to the niche customers who demand nickel free steel as a material of choice for their pans and pots.

    A lot of modern cookware can be used on induction hobs. It means that the body of the pot/pan should contain magnetic alloy (non magnetic metal cookware could also work, but in a less efficient and controllable way). Manufacturers figured out that they can sandwich magnetic steel between austenic steel and this way allow for induction cooking without sacrificing the anti corrosion properties of austenic steel.

    I have Matfer Bourgeat pots, series Excellence. They are induction ready. The magnet will strongly stick to all surfaces and lids. They are all made from 18/10 steel with sandwiched magnetic steel inside.
    I have Lagostina pan. Magnet sticks to all surfaces. Material: 18/10 steel.

    In 99% of cases your magnet test will be positive, because it will stick to the magnetic steel sandwiched in between layers of austenic steel and you will be mislead thinking that your cookware doesn’t contain nickel. Wrong!

    Please do not propagate this falsehood.
    If I wanted to check for nickel contents the best would be a metal spectrometer, spark test or nickel test kit.
    Another way of determining if the steel contains nickel could be visual comparison of two identically polished pieces in neutral light. Nickel makes steel slightly more yellowish.

    Testing aside, I consider Staub’s black enamel to be quite nonstick. I have a saucepan and tried frying lamb brains in egg and breadcrumbs batter. No sticking and if any it was very slight. I haven’t tested omelets or fish, since I’m waiting for the bigger pieces to arrive. I suspect Le Creuset or Chasseur with black interior would behave in a similar way.

    I have many Lodge raw cast iron pieces which I seasoned myself over the years, but I’m not satisfied with their performance. Eggs, potatoes, rice stick a lot, even if using large amount of fat. Also, in my opinion, its use is limited to frying, because adding any liquids removes the seasoning very fast and changes the taste of the food. It also leaches lots of iron which could be a bigger concern that minute amounts of nickel from asutenic steels.
    I have a Mexican griddle which sticks less than Lodge.

    In the past I was using teflon coated aluminum pan but discarded it after it started flaking and after I realized of the teflon potential dangers.
    I wanted to test Visions cookware – there are many pieces on ebay, but after reading this I gave up:
    http://www.amazon.com/forum/cooking/?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx211KPGGBLHNC6&cdThread=Tx105CBKW8EWL0A
    I wouldn’t like any cookware to explode on my stove with hot liquid inside even if the chance is minimal.

    I’m also going to try traditional Spanish clay cookware.



  14. Thanks Jack and well-researched – I have removed the bit about magnet-testing after reading more about austenic steel on wikipedia. Please let us know how the Spanish clay cookware works out…



  15. DEE – If you google “micro glaze” most of the info is about a waterproof fixative glaze for paper products. So you would need to contact the company who is using the term “micro glaze” and ask them what it is and what it is made of. Then you can compare.



  16. Hello,

    I would like to know more about the colorants used to color ceramics, nano or not, and if there are any concerns regarding that? I’ve read that titanium dioxide, and even uranium (not the nuclear kind), is used as colorant. Before I read into this some, I purchased Le Creuset pots in yellow, and now I’m wondering if the colorant showed up in the hair test I had done–the uranium level in my hair was almost off the chart. Granted, a hair test alone isn’t always the most accurate in measuring metals in the body. I use Le Creuset ceramic, Warner cast iron and Flamemaster glass cookware depending on my mood.

    Is there anyone reading this thread that could comment more; point me to some reading materials; share experience on this topic regarding their cookware?

    I would like to have the most inert material to use for cooking. Almost makes me want to go down the raw-foods path.

    Appreciate it.



  17. BTW, I visited Ceramcor’s website to see if I could find any info on colorants. I couldn’t find anything, so I contacted their offices via the website. Hopefully I get an answer.

    I was also a bit annoyed that their cookware is made in China. My tone may be phobic, but I’m wary about buying certain things manufactured in China nowadays…not to mention certain things manufactured here in the U.S. too.



  18. Interesting discussion. I recently ordered a couple “Art of Cuisine” ceramic pans after doing some of my own research. They were expensive, but I’m thinking you want to go more expensive with something like this? They appear to be made in France. Ceramic coating over stainless steel. My understanding is that you definitely want to avoid the colored ceramic due to leeching of lead, etc. I haven’t gotten the pans yet, but I’m looking forward to it.



  19. LAURA – oooh ceramic over stainless steel, now that sounds like a great idea! PLEASE post back here after you’ve used them and let us know what you think. Sounds like a great compromise between inert substance next to your food, but lighter weight due to the stainless steel rather than cast iron….can’t wait to hear…



  20. I have purchased more pieces from Staub and tried to make some “sticky” dishes. I have used the 12″ frying pan made for Wlliams Sonoma. Omelettes (Tortilla Espanola: potatoes, onion, eggs) stick only on the sides, but badly enough to discourage me from making them. Cleaning the egg residue was very hard in those spots and soaking didn’t help much.
    I have also tried Greek Manestra (meat, onion, tomatoes and orzo pasta). I usually mix it, so the pasta doesn’t stick together or to the bottom of the pan, but it still got stuck, however cleaning was relatively easy after 2 hour soaking in water.
    Potato pancakes (finely grated raw potatoes) also stuck, trying to turn them separated the core from the brown crust.
    Frying catfish bells covered with eggs and breadcrumbs was a success. No sticking.
    Adding more fat helps.
    So the Staub matte black enamel can not compare to teflon, but this pan will last for decades, is non toxic and I can add lemon juice, vinegar, wine, tomatoes without anything leaching from the surface and it’s most important to me, since I make a lot of dishes with those ingredients added to meat or fish. It’s also beautiful.

    I still haven’t tried Spanish clay cookware.

    In reply to Sheila:

    Please read this document:
    http://www.eh.uc.edu/news/pdfs/7-7-09-clark.pdf

    It turns out that the brighter color (reds, oranges, yellows, greens) – the higher probability of lead contents, however this document refers to the enamel pieces manufactured in the East.
    If your Le Creuset is made in France, I wouldn’t worry about lead, especially that their inner enamel is white/ivory.



  21. Thank you for the reply, Jack. I’m was concerned more about uranium in the colorant or glaze, rather than lead, but that’s always a concern.

    Here’s one article among others I’ve read: http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/consumer%20products/uraniumceramicsgeneralinfo.htm . Understood that not all Uranium ‘is created equal’.

    I’m not panicked over it, but I would like to know what happens to the body over time; what happens when heat is applied, etc.

    I’m making my way through this website and its links:
    http://www.wise-uranium.org/dviss.html
    This notation in particular worried me since I own Le Creuset from France:
    http://www.wise-uranium.org/dviss.html#ENAMELF
    Plus, I stumbled upon a French warning about the depleted uranium being used in ceramics. I’ve got to dig for it again.



  22. Ah, the warning I mentioned, I believe, is the last few paragraphs of the last link I posted.

    “In August 2011, the matter of the radiation dose resulting from former use of powder “jaune no.17″ in enamel resurfaced in France, when a collector of enamel jewelry found Geiger counter readings up to 20 µSv/h at the surface of his enamel items.
    An investigation by radiation protection authority IRSN confirmed gamma and beta rates up to 20 times background at the surface of the items, but concluded that the resulting effective doses were negligible.
    > View IRSN release Sep. 5, 2011 external link (in French)
    > Download IRSN’s technical note Sep. 2, 2011 external link (PDF – in French)

    The independent radiation monitoring laboratory CRIIRAD rather claims that the use of depleted uranium in these enamel items well presents a health hazard. (Le Populaire du Centre, Oct. 19, 2011) ”

    I contacted the Customer Relations office of Le Creuset in the U.S. about their colorant, but no response.



  23. My 17th century ancestors used iron pans. My grandparents and parents used cast iron pans. I got a 10 piece cast iron set 25 years ago that I use everyday. Here is the deal:

    1) They never break unless you smash them with a hammer, or smash them on a concrete floor, or heat them up to 500 degrees or so and then plunge them into ice water.

    2) Iron is a required nutrient. It is what makes our hemoglobin red. Iron leaching from iron cookware is a recognized source of the iron in our bodies, as is, of course, the iron contained in the food we eat. In fact, eating food cooked in iron is one way to get more iron into your diet. This is generally considered to be beneficial.

    3) The handle can never come off, because it is part of the frying pan itself. It is not “bolted” on. I don’t care how good some manufacturer claims their handles are. After a while, after a few years of moving that pan in and out of the oven, heating it, cooling it, expansion/contraction, getting it wet… that handle ‘joint’ is going to start loosening. Fact is, sooner or later, galvanic action, oxidation, chemical degradation (tomatoes, heat, cleansers) and mechanical stresses will loosen that handle. Then you toss the pan out because it is no longer reliable.

    4) They are heavy. That’s right. Heavy. And for good reason. They don’t slide around on the stove. If you bump the handle while moving another frying pan around, it will pretty much stay there, because it is heavy. These lightweight aluminum pans, you better be careful around, because they are light, and are easy to flip. I prefer my stove top to be a static environment. When I am operating near high heat sources, with a bunch of pots, and pans, and utensils sticking out, I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO MOVE. If I ‘bump’ something (and we all do), then I want it to ‘bump back’ and not just fly off the side of the stove.

    5) There is no glaze to accidentally shatter. Just cast iron. Rock hard. Can’t accidentally ‘punch’ a hole through it. Think about your ceramic-glazed bathtub. You drop your shaving mirror, and #*!@ right there is a little ‘shatter-spot’ where the edge of your shaving mirror crushed the glaze in the bottom of the tub. Great. In a few years, your white bathtub has a 1/2 inch wide permanent rust spot, that just keeps getting bigger, and bigger…However, not in my frying pan. Unfortunately, your beautiful ceramic, glass, or glazed surface WILL NOT fare as well.

    6) Cast iron is ‘seasoned’ by rubbing lard (preferably, but olive oil works too) all over it, and then baking it at a few hundred degrees for several hours. The organo-metallic bonds that result are fairly durable, and if you are tender in your cleanup regimen (like, soak things for a while) then you typically will only have to re-season every few years. What I do is soak a little, gently scrub out with a soft scrubbie, and then just store it in the oven. I do not spotlessly clean it. You will just wear off the hard black surface faster. Instead, I leave a sheen of grease or oil on it to protect it, and just store it until next use. All the ‘kitchen clean freaks’ out there need to realize that cleaning all the oil out is NOT beneficial. A frying pan is not a work of art, it is an industrial tool used to heat food. It is a piece of equipment, and tools need to stay oiled. You are going to eat out of it the very next day, so don’t freak and say “OMG, the oily surface is going to break down and go rancid”. Not in a day, not in a week. You clean out the reamining food particles (which will break down), and leave the oily surface. It is supposed to be there. It was there in the iron pots and pans that fed your ancestors, and with luck, it will be there in the pots and pans that feed your descendants generations from now. Get over it. It is a good thing. Don’t be mislead by people whose interest is your wallet rather than your health. To date, there has not been one single human in all of history that ever got sick from the one week old heavy oily film on their fry ware, however, there HAVE been literally millions of people who have compromised their immune systems from eating off of non-stick surfaces. And they have died, and had endocrine problems, and had children who had neurological and developmental problems… and the list goes on. Except not in my household. We eat iron, and very long-chain hydrocarbon molecules that result from cooking food in olive oil, butter, lard, and beef fat. Fact is, that oily surface is your friend, AND THERE SIMPLY IS NO SUBSTITUTE, AND THERE NEVER WILL BE.

    7) This ‘organic glaze’ that is produced by the seasoning process will gradually break down, and you will eat it. Surprise! It’s made out of carbon, and humans have been consuming carbon-tainted foods since the first proto-human shoved a rat on a stick and held it over the fire some 8 million years ago. In fact, you could eat off of a cast iron frying pan every day for the next 60 million years, and not a single thing will happen to you.

    8) Think about the metal ions that are present in your cookware. I am actually not very thrilled consuming nickel (humans have only been exposed to metallic nickel for a few thousand years – it doesn’t occur naturally in lumps that can be found on the ground, as do copper and iron. I also am not really very thrilled about consuming food cooked in copper, even though copper cookware is maybe 5000 years old (not enough time for any genetic modification to occur). Copper doesn’t exactly rust, but it is easily etched by acidic foods, like tomatoes, whereas my seasoned cast iron doesn’t care what you put in it. If you stop and think about it, you want to cook in something that is really really inert, like stone, or ceramic, or glass, or iron. If the material breaks down a little, and you consume it (as of course, you will) then it better be non-toxic. Glass abrasion may create a little microscopically-small-particle-size glass dust, which is inert. Ceramics are pretty good, except now you have to worry about the metals that contributed the coloring (for instance: white may come from zinc or titanium oxide). Those metals may or may not be a good thing. (Remember when lead glazes used to be cool?) Well, for the most part, metallic oxides are pretty inert. However, I still will not eat the blue/green oxidation byproducts of copper. I will eat iron rust (Fe2O3 and Fe3O4), because it is A) quite inert, and B) my body actually utilizes iron, although my bodies ability to break down iron oxides with 0.1 molar stomach HCL is miniscule. Aluminum? Really bad idea.

    9) Yeah, you can use stainless steel: mostly iron, plus carbon, some nickel, chromium, maybe some vanadium or molybdenum. You will certainly pay handsomely for it. It will definately resist rust. It also is really lously at even heat transfer, and sucks pretty big time when it comes to certain foods sticking. The reason is so weird: since most of the bonding sites at the surface are metalurgically ‘plugged’ with the non-iron atoms, there isn’t much for fat molecules (alias: food lube) to attach to. So your food touches the bare metal, and burns on. So, your food can definately stick. Interestingly, cast iron has lots of ‘holes’ for long-chain fat molecules to attach too. That’s why cast iron turns black after seasoning – it is literally coated with an organic, totally natural, non-stick surface, and your food touches this surface, NOT the metal.

    10) Compared to all this ‘modern’ cookware, cast iron is the cheapest cookware around, the most durable, the longest lasting, and the safest. All this artsy-fartsy mondo expensive green this and non-stick that and blah blah, plays upon your ignorance. Humans have been eating out of iron for many centuries. Humans rarely ate from glass or ceramics, because, lets face it, the stuff breaks really easily. Humans have been eating out of copper for a while, but you have to stop and ask yourself, are you a Vulcan, with copper-based green blood, or are you a human, with iron-base red blood? And as far as stainless, humans have only been eating off of stainless for thirty years or so. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what those chromium, nickel, vanadium, and molybdenum ions do to our brains as we age. And don’t even mention aluminum. I don’t plan to sit around in my wheelchair at the age of 75, watching Gilligans Island reruns at the managed care facility, while I drool into my spit cup, and wish I hadn’t eaten so many aluminum-tray TV dinners.

    Summary: a tool-man is a guy who owns and respects quality tools. My cast-iron cook set is simply the finest cooking tool that money can buy. It will last a thousand lifetimes if treated properly. My children will save $150 bucks when they inherit my set, and my grandchildren, and great grand children. Buy once, use forever.

    If you need a ‘pretty’ kitchen, then go spend big dough on art cookware. If you need an industrial facility, where you can feed people for decades, where you can thrash your kitchen ware, where you can rely on your gear, year in, year out, without toxics, where breakdown byproducts are actually beneficial to your health, then stop jerking around, and buy the thing that has worked for centuries.

    Save your health, and your dough. No more digging through all those pretty brochures with this and that and whatever “new amazing non-stick surface”. So iron is a little heavier, and you actually have to clean it, rather than ‘just a quick rinse’. It will literally last you the rest of your lifetime. So, whatever. Get over it.

    From an engineering standpoint, there is not, and will not be, a superior product produced.

    Thendriak Lamplighter



  24. Thanks, Thendriak, for that emphatic novella.

    I’m not as brave as you are to attempt to cook tomatoes in my cast iron. Eggs I’ve gotten quite good at, but tomatoes stick every time. May I ask – what is your exact method for cooking tomatoes?

    Also, I find I must season more than only once every couple of years. I clean very gently, and yes, I leave the oil. Can you post your exact method?

    Many thanks.



  25. Errr, ahem. Yeah, I think I was a little ‘over motivated’ with that last entry. As far as cooking tomatoes: this is one of those acidic foods that will break down the black food-lube layer quickly. Seems that acidic foods ‘snap off’ those long chain hydrocarbons, and you will have to season more frequently, maybe once a year if you are a stewed tomato lover (which I am).

    As far as tomatoes sticking: more lube more lube more lube… actually I don’t think my tomatoes stick, but they do ‘etch’ a little unless I am careful.

    The bottom line: the longer you have built up that black layer (more correctly called a polymer layer, or a patina) then the harder and more resistant it is. If you are using your grandmother’s 1890 dutch oven, then you have a thick haaaaaard surface. If you just seasoned it yesterday, then it cannot compare, and will be markedly less resistant.

    More heating/cooling cycles equals more molecular cross-linking of the hydrocarbon chains. After decades, you can build up a really spectacular patina.

    Some mitigating techniques:
    1) Pre-lube a little each time before you cook: rub down a little lard or oil, and heat it up for a bit until you get that ‘glassy’ sort of look.

    2) Try not to cook acidic foods for long periods of time.

    3) Don’t let acidic foods (wine, vinegar, tomatoes, lemons) sit around in your cast iron for a week. Acid + time is not your friend. So, don’t prep and store in your iron, and don’t cook and store in your iron. My iron spends its time cooking, or sitting around in my oven, cleaned, re-lubed, and stored. I don’t store food in my iron in the refrigerator. Cast iron is for cooking, not storage.

    4) Most tomato dishes are pretty much water soluble, and cleanup is fast. So, cook it, get it out of the iron, rinse the iron out, put the iron back on the still-warm stove top, buff the surface up with a little more oil/grease, and let it just cool down slowly. Contrast this with chicken: you can let fried chicken sit in the iron for weeks (cool science project) and nothing will happen, but acidic foods need to be in and out.

    Cast iron/carbon steel is sort of a mind set. You do gain experience as to what you can get away with, and for how long. There is not really a “one-size-acidic-food” cooking guide that fits all circumstances. Reality is, acidic foods, wines, vinegars, etc. ARE problematic, so you just have to not “push” the pan too hard. If you really want to do pan-fried tomatoes, I wouldn’t risk my grandma’s beautiful 100 year patina. I actually have a dedicated tomato frypan that I relube every 8 months or so. I just wreck this thing, but I don’t care, because it is the only thing I use for my tomato projects, and it cost me 8 dollars at a second hand store. So it is my equivalent of a ceramic-glazed frypan except I can’t ever damage the ceramic (because there is none).

    In researching this subject, I have come across many discussions where people claim that they ‘get away with it’ all the time, and nothing much happens. I too can verify that frequently I can ‘get away with it’. I also know that every now and then, a particular load of tomatoes will just seem to totally nuke my fry pan.

    I could go on and on, but frankly, all this yak yak is making me hungry! However, I have done a bunch of research on this subject, and probably the best 3 links I came up with in four hours are here:

    !) an extensive discussion of heat and materials characteristics of stovetop cookware: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/25717-understanding-stovetop-cookware/

    2) another great discussion of cast iron cookware: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/350348

    3) http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/16/heavy-metal-the-science-of-cast-iron-cooking/

    By the way, I do not mean to denigrate ceramic cookware. My sister loves her set and can produce an unbelievable tomato-pasta-tuna thing with no etching problems whatsoever. Me, maybe I’m just a kitchen-elite-purist who resists change. Whatever.

    Just keep it lubed and you will be fine.
    Thendriak



  26. Without answering all Thendriak’s points and making it a lengthy post I have to disagree.
    Raw cast iron is overrated. It limits the food choices you can prepare, unless you want to have metallic taste and/or removed seasoning. I season with lamb or goat suet, I don’t wash the pans and dutch ovens thoroughly so they stay greasy, but whenever I want to prepare something more complex than fried meat, fish or sunny-side up egg and add some vegetables I end up with metallic taste and reseasoning task. Forget about long stewing or making soups.

    I also don’t care that it was used by our ancestors. It’s not a proof of quality. I question everything invented by modern humans. Since the inventor used his/her intellect I can use mine to dissect it and criticize.
    Romans used lead piping in their villas. Was it good?
    Cast iron was invented by Chinese in the 4th century and in 18th it was introduced in mass quantities in Western Europe. On the other hand clay ceramics was already used 20-30 thousand years ago. Obviously it’s easier to make a clay pot. I would dare to make it myself (I did using modern kilns) in the wild. Some digging for clay and a simple fire. Cast iron – not so easy.

    How do you know that “you could eat off of a cast iron frying pan every day for the next 60 million years, and not a single thing will happen to you”? It’s a bold statement. If we go to the core it may turn out that it’s quite false, since the human is the only animal that damages its food by cooking process. The question if we evolved to digest those foods have yet to be answered since even the length of using fire in food preparation is not 100% certain.

    Also the iron leaching from cast iron may be a double edged sword. I don’t need extra supplementation. If I need iron I can eat liver which I consume weekly.

    The truth is that cast iron will stand lots of abuse and will last for generations. It’s cheap, looks good, but limits the food choices.
    Ceramic vessels are inert, cheap but will sooner or later get chipped or will craze.
    Glass pots are extremely inert but can easily break or some low quality specimens even explode.
    I opt for enameled cast iron which gives me unlimited choices of menus and with proper care may last for generation or two.
    I still like good stainless steel pots and use them.

    At the end let me say it: I love all kinds of cast iron!

    Going off on a tangent. I have found two companies that manufacture borosilicate glass bakers and pots. The same material American Pyrex was using before the Second World War and the same material which European Pyrex still uses. European versions are not available here, at least I haven’t found them anywhere yet. Those two companies are Czech Simax and Brazilian Marinex. After my Pyrex baker shattered to pieces in the oven I will try the borosilicate glass.



  27. THANKS so much to all you fabulous posters here for sharing your detailed knowledge – great exchange happening here!



  28. Ignorence is bliss. I almost wish I wasn’t learning so much in the process of looking for the perfect scrambled-egg-skillet and pancake griddle. Unfortunately, I can’t unlearn what I now know…but I am more perplexed than ever.

    Jini, after all of this…do you recommend a specific skillet for cooking eggs and how about a good griddle? I make large batches of healthful pancakes for my kids so that we can just whip out a few and toast them in the mornings. My pancakes stick to every pan. I only have success when I borrow my mom’s electric griddle (Teflon).

    I dread the thought of having to take great care with the oiling and cleaning of anything heavy with needy kids pulling at my leg. I’m a stay at home mom so I have more time to do that sort of stuff than many other moms, but still, I don’t wanna be dealing with my skillet after every meal while the baby is crying for me.

    What are your top suggestions for skillet/griddle?



  29. EMILY – I hear you! I guess where I’m sitting at this point I would buy Le Creuset (black color enamel). If I absolutely could not afford that, then I would try the enamel-coated stainless steel. Just remember to coat with lots of good fat suitable for higher temperatures: butter, organic lard, grapeseed oil, coconut oil. Olive oil is fine for lower temperatures. That way your food won’t stick and you’ll reap the health benefits as well.



  30. The “cocotte” is maybe the most famous utensils of cookware crafted by Staub. Mainly the cocotte is a Dutch oven, which is composed with the enameled cast iron.



  31. Well, me too I’d wish santa clause would drop me the perfect set of cookware overnight but unfortunately I have to deal with this information war and I’m scanning the internet for options. A post like this is nice but also raises more cool questions again … . Here they are, hopefully someone can fill in the answers.

    1/ I was wondering if the Silargan coating’s antibacterial properties are based on silver or titaniumdioxide? Because nano-titaniumdioxide compounds are known to be cancerogenic (when used in toothpast, paint (white colouring), suncream, …). Other than that, it looks like a nice product, right :) ?

    2/ And while we’re at it, how save are products that have a titanium layer? I’m having a hard time finding good brand that uses titanium. And most of them use aliuminium inside anyway for better conduction … . Some of them use it as a coating like the famous scanpan.

    3/ I guess when Jini is refering to “enamel-coated stainless steel”. She is referring to the “Art and cuisine” brand? How do you know they don’t use lead in the manufacturing process of their coating? Le creuset does not use that for instance as they explain in their FAQ.

    4/ Cast iron … . People have different opinions about the iron intake produced by the pans. Ceramic manufacturers claim that “your body cannot assimilate the iron (ferric) from a cast iron pan.”. Iron cast lovers say “the more the better”. Come on … what’s the bloody truth? And how bad is it even if you body cannnot assimilate it? Interesting question … .

    5/ What outside color of Le creuset is safest? As mentioned by one of the readers, the yellow color was even found to be radiated, okey … . Is red the safest? I’m curious to this … .

    6/ I like the openness of Ceramcor. They have nice products it seems. But eum, you can read all over the internet people, even the ones with very good review, saying/complaining about the handles that simply break off. Now not one or to but like almost half of the people who review skillets have either had a replacement skilled because the long handle broke or are complaining about it. What’s up with that? 50 year garantuee but the handle can’t hold the pan? And it’s not like it was a bad batch. It covers 2 years of complaints. Look more like a design flaw. I’d like to know what’s up with this before I might order a set.

    7/ Anyone has experience with Emile Henry’s latest “flame” layer. Also they mix ceramics with other stuff (top secret?) … . Has anyone tested those are “reverse engineered” that material? How safe it is? They say it’s safe obviously, as safe as the mercury fillings in dental care?

    Djeez, tnx for anyone taking time to reply.



  32. “5/ What outside color of Le creuset is safest? As mentioned by one of the readers, the yellow color was even found to be radiated, okey … . Is red the safest? I’m curious to this … .”

    I was the original poster for bringing up the colorants to Le Creuset. I don’t have an answer for you since I didn’t pursue researching the other colors, since my Le Creuset is yellow. Although the exterior colorant concerns/ed me, what I have the most interest in is the interior colorant, that which touches my food during cooking. I couldn’t find anything online regarding the colorant or ingredients used in the process of enameling the interior of the pots and pans by Le Creuset.

    I did find this: http://vegetarianorganiclife.com/55.htm => “Enamel lining on the cookware is safe. Vitreous enamel is perfectly non-reactive, clean and impermeable. That’s why you can marinate foods right in your pots and pans or store food in them after cooking in the refrigerator.”

    Until I find more answers to assuage my curiosity about my Le Creuset enamel, I will rely more heavily on my cast iron, and glass, cookware. There is another set I’m considering made of soapstone. Any feedback and resource links from others would be appreciated. http://www.rosettastonekitchenware.com/index.html

    Sheila



  33. I have been looking for pans for a long time, and healthy ones. Since I am a scientist this sometimes consumes me. The pans that I want (when I have the money) are the stainless steel ones from the Culinary Institute of America. Why, because they designed them themselves, and they are 7 play clad..Yes clad, just not a bottom plate. They have copper, aluminum, and stainless steel, and the copper is really a thick piece, not just a very fine layer like a lot of others.
    The next choice I am now using is the TFal ultra hard anodized prometal interior. I find it really works, and I do not think it uses teflon. It is a joy to cook with. And you can use metal utensils, but I do not. No need to. They are very inexpensive, and can be found at Walmarts. However, I would not use any of their other cookware with different interiors.
    the other right now I use is Bialetti Aeternum white interior ceramic cookware. It does cook really really good with even heat. But be careful, if you burn something in it, it does lose its not stick and becomes a problem. And turn on burner on low, warm pan, then on low to medium heat (never go above this, as it is not necessary and will ruin the pan if you are not careful). It cleans really good and lasts. But I have ruined one and my daughter ruined one by turning on higher heat and walking away and forgetting it.
    Only use cast iron now to sear steaks or warm up tortillas.
    Try this for cooking steaks, warm an iron pan to about 375 to 400 degrees, sear steaks for 3 minutes each side, then remove and put in a warm oven at 350 degrees for about 5 to 10 minutes. Read temp of meat with thermometer, and when it is what you like, remove steaks and let rest for about 5 minutes. Best steaks you will ever eat..



  34. Hi Steven S.,

    Any concerns at all regarding out-gassing from any of the metals from the Culinary Institute’s stainless steel cookware, when cooking? I do want to buy a good stainless steel set too, at some point.

    Sheila



  35. I would say for all practical reasons, and probably even unmeasurable, there is no out gassing of the metals. To make stainless out gas it would have to be very very hot, more than what your kitchen can provide. The problems with stainless are that it is a very poor conductor of heat, so you get hotspots easily. However, with the copper the heat will spread very quickly and evenly, and the same with aluminum, but not as much. So when the stainless first gets hot, it heats the aluminum which heats the copper, which spreads the heat evenly back to the aluminum, and then back to the stainless again, evening out the heat. They are more expensive than regular pans, and thicker. But the ones I told you about compare to others from Europe for over 2000 to 5000 dollars or more. And when I checked, you can these here at Bed Bath and Beyond for around $500 for the set. If you want to send me the money, I would try them out and let you know. LOL.. If you do get them, please let me know how they work. Like with all pans, I have found out, start them on low, wait a few minutes, then increase to temperature. After at temp, put in any oil that you are going to use. Never put any meat in first and then heat the pan, it does ruin the pan and it will stick. Also, make sure your ingredients are dry unless you are steaming them, because the water from the ingredient stops the contact between the ingredient and the pan and with meat, it will not sear.



  36. I also wonder if it’s a lot more toxic to ”season” a cookware than not to season it. The cookware itself may be nontoxic, but the cooking oil turns very toxic very fast…better not
    (also in those pores which are not properly closed there will always remain food, oil or detergent…). Off course depends what you season with. But for instance I wouln’t season with vergin olive oil.



  37. Thanks for responding, Steven. Ha ha, the check is in the mail!

    I always start low, then low to just under med when cooking. I’ve been using grapeseed oil or butter for saute-ing, but moving toward eating more ‘raw’ foods. We wouldn’t go completely raw at our house.



  38. Regarding the seasoning, I would agree with that comment. I always use either grapeseed oil or canola oil, because they have some of the highest smoke levels of any oil. I prefer grapeseed oil, and have been using it now for over 20 years, and I have seen it from being really cheap because it was the discard, to getting expensive because all of the chefs found it and started using it for their own flavored oils. I use to buy directly from the grape growers, but they stopped that.

    As for raw foods, I found out that you can sautee at low enough temps to destroy the bacteria, but still keep the benefits of the vitamins. My wife tried going low meat, raw foods and her joints started giving her problems because she was not getting enough fat or oil to be assimilated for uptake, and even her doctor told her to knock it off. She did and returned to just fine. What I found out, that it matters more on the quality of the food than what it is. We eat fish, chicken, pork, and beef on a rotating basis, do not over cook it, and eat plenty of vegs with it, not much break or pasta or other wheat products, and have our fruits in the morning when I make a smoothie with fruits (blue berries, strawberries, bananas, some lecithin, yogurt (greek, no sugar, no corn sysrup) and some milk. We will eat nothing with corn syrup in it, or any geneticallly modified product.



  39. We’re on a similar track with our eating — Weston A. Price Foundation’s protocol. Quality foods. I want a Vitamix AND a good set of pots, pans and cooking utensils.



  40. I asked Silit as well if their cookware contains titanium dioxide. Since that is actually a known carcenogenic in it’s nano form.

    But they say the silargan compound is not nano. This is what they had to say. Looks pretty good to me. What do you think?

    ——————

    Silargan is no Nano coating.

    The Silargan coating consists of different components. The function Antibacteria is silver-based. Silicon dioxide is beside many other components one of the main components.



  41. Amending: I’m in the middle of researching Acid-Alkaline balanced eating and heritage-eating, so may include aspects of those too in our diet.

    Anyone using Rosetta Soapstone cookware? Please provide pro’s and con’s and comments.

    I’m considering it as my replacement purchase. Made from soapstone and copper handles, beautiful, and only available in Canada as far as I can tell.



  42. Hi JINI,

    Quote = “EMILY – I hear you! I guess where I’m sitting at this point I would buy Le Creuset (black color enamel). If I absolutely could not afford that, then I would try the enamel-coated stainless steel.”

    1. Have you tried the Le Creuset (black color enamel)?

    2. Have you bought/tried the Mercola/Extrema ceramic cookware yet?

    Thanks



  43. No, I don’t have either. Currently I only have the beige enamel-coated Le Creuset. After daily use, the coating shows tiny scratches (after 15 years) but is still non-stick if heated slowly and plenty of oil or butter used. But when I buy again, I will try the black as that seems to be the longest-wearing. I will not try the Mercola cookware unless I hear a whole lot more about it from a trustworthy source.



  44. Hi Jini,
    Could you please discuss the difference between matte black Le Creuset pans and the silk finish? I’m having trouble finding the matte black pans in stores and I thought you preferred the matte finish.
    Thanks.



  45. JUDY – this should help you:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/670724

    I haven’t tried the black-finish Le Creuset yet (still waiting to have enough moola to afford them!), all I know is what the writer said in the article above:

    “I recommend Le Creuset pans with a matte black enamel interior, not treated with any Teflon-like substance. (The company makes its black and white interior enamel from the same material, and says the black is fired at a higher temperature and withstands higher cooking temperatures.) David Bouley of Bouley and Danube said he uses Le Creuset in his country house because “it is the most reliable.” “



  46. Pingback: Gluten-Free Healthy Terriyaki Sauce | Listen To Your Gut

  47. What are your thoughts on the ceramic SCANPAN? It is made in Denmark , they say it does have PTFE but they say ” With our new GREEN TEK technology, there is no PFOA used at any stage of the entire process, resulting in a “clean and green” nonstick PTFE compound, the production of which no longer uses chemicals that could have a negative impact on the environment.” see at http://www.chefscatalog.com/brand/about/scanpan.aspx
    I would love to hear some views on this.



  48. TAMRA – the problem with this coating is they tell you 2 substances that are NOT in it. But they don’t tell us what IS in it. So how are we supposed to evaluate? It also appears this Green Tek material is also used for all kinds of plumbing, building, roofing applications… so did they really “develop” it, are they the original patent holders? Lastly, their pans are made from recycled aluminum. But there is no data or testing provided of whether the aluminum migrates into the food during cooking (similar to nickel in certain stainless steel). Too many questions for me and not enough answers.



  49. Jini- I did some searching on the Ceramic so called Green pans and as I said the Scanpan has PTFE, and most the other ceramic pans I looked at all have a “special glaze” on them, like silicone and other metals used to make a glaze I assume to protect the ceramic and give it that non stick coating. But I have also read people saying their ceramic pans lost their nonstick coating after awhile which makes me think it is the
    special glaze they use is wearing off.. which may not be good either. Kind of confusing when they are advertised as Green and we assume its good for us as an alternative.
    – I wanted to ask about the Le Creuset hard anodized aluminum ? I actually have the small pan and I do love it, but not sure with the risks with it, OR with buying a larger saute pan in this hard anodized aluminum, What are your thoughts on hard anodized aluminum. I have read that is better as the aluminum cannot leach out . I am looking for a Large saute pan and would rather not use stainless so my only choice I find then is the Le Creuset pan, which is very heavy for a saute pan. Any advice. THANKS!!!



  50. Tamra – well, you’ve just outlined the essential problem for all of us! We love the Le Creuset enamel-coated cast iron, but it’s so darn heavy!

    My way around this has been to use the 8″ Le Creuset pan for just about everything. Unless I’m doing a big stirfry, but then it doesn’t really matter about the pan weight as you don’t need to be picking it up until it’s time to wash it – and then just use two hands. You’d be amazed how much you can fit in an 8 inch pan. I have family of 5, so we’ll do 3 fried eggs at a time, or up to 6 scrambled in that one little pan.

    I’ve also decided to turn the weight of the large pan into a positive – free wrist strengthening program! Seriously, I try to hold the pan with only one hand and I switch hands to strengthen both wrists evenly.

    Re. the anodized aluminum, again, we have the same issue: Until someone has done leaching tests on it, at varying heats and including nano-sized particles, I wouldn’t feel safe with it.



  51. Has anyone used “BLACK IRON” ?

    Apart from the handle being boltied on the iron being thiner and a much lower price, is there any difference between “BALCK IRON” and “CAST IRON”?

    Obvioulsy “BLACK IRON” being cheaper, makes be suspictious.

    Rob



  52. Ok well for the aussie simpleton, please explain I understand the negatives from aluminium, teflon, titanium, etc etc so please someone that has a science backround and is t affraid to tell the truth so we can all finally stop poising ourselves and our growing familes as previously mentioned it seems that le creuset is what we should be cooking with but what enamelor coating??



  53. Hi all. I would love your assistance. Jini, unfortunately Le Creuset is out of my budgetary range. You recommended enameled stainless steel. Does any one have recommendations for this? When I look online what I mainly find is enameled aluminum (such as the set by Rachel Ray). But given the dangers of aluminum is this wise?
    I find a lot of enameled cookware on Amazon for example, but they don’t normally mention what the base is made out of.
    Any recommendations for an affordable brand would be much appreciated!
    Have a lovely day.



  54. Yes, I know, that’s the problem with shopping online. Unless they have really detailed spec sheets, you can’t figure it out. I found these on Zappos (the 8 quart is quite reasonable):

    http://www.zappos.com/le-creuset-12-qt-enamel-on-steel-stockpot?zfcTest=pd%3A0

    Otherwise, you’ll just have to keep searching Google and also if you have a large cookware store you can go to in person and talk to someone, have a look at the boxes/tags, you might find something suitable. Good luck! And let us know if you find anything that looks good…



  55. Thanks Jini. That does look like a good deal.
    So – what is your take on the enameled aluminium? Does the enamel keep the leaching of the aluminum out?
    Or is it a problem when things start scratching?
    Thanks so much for your input.



  56. Oooh, yet another thorny question! Well, personally I would not feel safe with enamel-coated aluminum because how would I “know” whether there is any leaching taking place?

    But here are 2 opinions I found:

    1/ This one is referring to aluminum bottles with an enamel coating, but it raises some good points:

    Aluminum bottle manufacturers use an oven enamel to coat their bottles to prevent the aluminum from leaching. While these linings appear to be reliable, it’s possible the lining will flake off over time…especially if the bottle is dented or exposed to extreme environments. In fact, the lining is so delicate that many aluminum bottle manufactures warn that their bottles are not even dishwasher safe! What?!?! If an aluminum bottle can not withstand a standard dishwasher cycle, can you:

    trust it to safeguard the liquids you are putting into your body during your daily adventures (like sitting in a hot car or gym bag and banging around against your water bottle cage??)
    trust that it will not leach something into the mother’s milk, formula, or even water that you are giving your infants, toddlers, and kids?

    Lastly, if (or more likely, when) the coating degrades (look closely at the bottle threads where the plastic caps screw in) you run the risk of being exposed to a material that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The bottom line is: are the hazards associated with aluminum bottles worth the risk and are aluminum bottles any safer than plastic bottles?

    2/ from eHow site:

    The enamel used to coat steel and aluminum cookware is considered safe by the FDA, when it is manufactured properly. Early enamelware coatings had high levels of lead or cadmium, which could leach into the food being cooked or served in the cookware. Enamelware produced in or imported to the United States now does not contain a high enough concentration of lead or cadmium to present a problem. Enamelware from other countries may have higher concentrations of these materials and may be dangerous to use.

    Read more: Enamelware Safety | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_6539680_enamelware-safety.html#ixzz2BNGWcpcn



  57. There is a hazard with too much iron for certain people, hemochromatosis is a disease where the body absorbs too much iron. This iron buildup slowly destroys the internal organs. It is primarily men and menopausal women who are affected.



  58. Pingback: Eco Friendly, Healthy Cookware | Shared Tastes

  59. Hello!

    First of all, I’d like to thank Steven Sedlmayr for his comment ;)

    I’d like to ask if enamel is considered ceramic as well…?
    Or a similar question would be: is enamel potentially dangerous because of its nano particles as well ceramic? And is there any kind of ceramic coating that’s proven not to be potentially dangerous for its nano particles?

    And what about terra cotta (lead free) and soapstone cookware? Any draw backs in terms of health threats?

    I’ll be having a baby soon and that’s why I’d really like to start cooking in “healthiest” cookware available from now on ;)

    Thank you!

    Srdjan



  60. I, too, have been looking for a non-stick alternative. Years ago, I threw out all but one of my teflon coated pans (saving only the one for Rachael Ray’s cheesy chicken, which you can’t make in a regular pan, and I make only rarely because I really hate using the teflon).

    Anyway, I do have a good tip for anyone who struggles with using stainless steel or other cookware that isn’t non-stick. My husband heard this tip on a cooking show – don’t know why it works but it does. I heat oil in my pan, then let it cool while I get my ingredients ready. Then I reheat the pan to my desired temperature, throw my food in and cook. I even make eggs this way, and they stick only a little – sometimes not at all. I can even make sunny side up eggs this way – I just jiggle them free with a spatula and they slide out. It works best if you don’t move the food around very much. Cook it on one side, then flip it over, and you should be good to go. (Scrambled eggs stick a little, but not nearly as much as they do if I don’t heat, cool, and reheat.)

    I use Cuisinart’s line of stainless steel pans (with aluminum encapsulated bottoms), but I suspect this technique would work with any type of smooth pan.

    As for the alternatives to nonstick – I’m going to wait. Seems like the jury’s still out, and my temporary solution has been working well for years, although my cheesy chicken will still have to be a rare treat. =-)



  61. I want to share with you some of my new experiences.

    First the Pyroflam set: 1, 2 and 3 liter ceramic pots with borosilicate glass lids. I purchased them at amazon.co.uk and they shipped to US without any problems.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pyroflam-Round-Casseroles-Lids-Set/dp/B002DGTLB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361427255&sr=8-1

    If you are looking for ultimate non reactive cooking vessel that will stand hot to cold and vice versa thermal shocks then you found it. Perfect for slow cooking of soups and stews, but with two problems:

    1. The lids are not heavy enough to build pressure like enameled cast iron pots.
    2. These pots burn everything, even watery soup, because when used on gas burner they need some flame diffuser. I found out that the best one is just a regular piece of copper 3 mm or 1/8″ thick that I’m going to buy – 8″ x 8″ costs ca $35.

    I use them mainly for soups or stews, but not for sauteing, because everything sticks terribly and after that it’s hard to clean. When I buy the copper diffuse I hope it will be more pleasant to use them.

    Second – old good cast iron. I have had Lodge pieces for over 10 years but only few months ago I really understood how to fry with them. One day I prepared some taco meat by frying onions, garlic, chili and ground goat meat on low heat for 30 minutes. After that I cleaned the pan, using the abrasive part of the sponge and forgot about it. A week later I used it again, started sauteing onions, only to find after a few minutes that particles of seasoning (and some not fully charcoaled food) started to come off and get mixed with the onions. I got angry, threw the onions out, found some box cutter (trapezoidal shape, hard to hold without some dedicated holder) and started to scrape the skillet hard. During next few weeks I was frying on the same pan and kept scraping it after each use. Finally I became tired and my fingers almost cut from using the cutter and purchased a pan scraper made in USA by Forschner (model 40412). I used a file to round the corners of the scraper and having all the right tools I realized that the 12″ skillet I had for so long became a wonderful NON STICK pan. To sum it up, here is the list of what you should do to achieve it:

    1. Heat the pan to high temperature, smear it with a piece of suet or lard. It should start smoking lightly.
    2. Fry. Add more fat if needed.
    3. When it cools down scrape it with metal scraper till nothing peels off any more.
    4. Rinse with hot water or finish scraping under hot water stream. You don’t have to use any detergent. Let the pan stay greasy (I keep mine in the oven). It’s also important to use saturated (animal fats, coconut) or monounsaturated fats (olive oil) that will not get oxidized and will not harden into some gunk on the stored pan.

    After several scraping/frying sessions it will develop smooth cooking surface.

    I already tried: sunny-side up eggs, scrambled eggs, potato pancakes, Tortilla Española (fried potatoes, onion and eggs), Tortilla Murciana (eggs, eggplant, pepper, tomato), Indian Poodla (grated potatoes, chickpea flower, tomatoes, spices). No sticking AT ALL. When I tried to make omelettes on stainless steel or Staub frying pan, the eggs stuck so badly that even soaking for several hours would not help.
    I’m going to try making regular pancakes and injeras which are very difficult to fry, because teff flour doesn’t have gluten.
    Of course I’m not going to use the pan for preparing some acidic or watery dishes.
    I have noticed on Lodge’s website that they sell profiled plastic scrapers for their skillets. Do not try to buy it, because raw cast iron has to be scraped hard and with METAL. It’s basically remachining of the imperfect cooking surface. Imperfect because of (too coarse?) sand molds they use in the foundry. Even if they milled/ground/polished the surface in the factory you would still need a metal scraper to get rid of the residue of the burned food after each frying.

    I felt so happy about rediscovering the joy of the cast iron frying that I needed to tell you about that :)



  62. I hope all the good folks that made posts earlier are still reading…I’m a little late to the pots-and-pans party. I have a little dilemma and am growing bleary-eyed spending hours and hours doing research. I want one really good fry pan for my mom. As a tie-over, I bought a 12″ Revere pan made in USA that was used in almost mint condition. However, I would like to get her one more with a LITTLE more weight and flat bottom, however, here are the issues:
    1) she is in her 80s and has terrible arthiritis…especially in her hands, (cast iron and many multi-plys are too heavy)
    2) she always, always, always uses metals objects (forks, spoons, etc) to stir stuff in her pans while frying…sorry, but can’t expect her to change that much after 70+ year routines, (hence, enamel is not a great choice for her…and nothing depending on interior coatings)
    3) I wont buy any cookware made in CHINA–especially for my mom or myself..end of story…EVER.
    4) I will pay big bucks for ONE good fry pan this one time—a decent size (either 9, 10, or 11″) because 8″ is just too small for frying up more than one burger/chicken breast/etc. at a time and she won’t need another 12″. Just something for every day eggs, french toast, reheating, etc.
    So, there you have it. A hard bit of stuff to mix up together and come out with one perfect pan. Kind of sad, right? I’ve looked at everything listed above except the one cooking school pan posting…will check that in my next round of reviews. If you understand my challenge and still have an excellent idea, please let me know. Thanks so much! P~



  63. Is having a collection of guns in your home, not more hazardous to your families health than a ceramic frying pan



  64. Guess that depends on whether some thugs target your home for a break in. That gun collection might be better for your family’s health than your preferred line of cookware. Perhaps you could hand out pots and pans and commence trying to defend yourselves. Back to this strand of cookware comments, thanks for all the interesting comments. I’m wondering if anyone knows about the safety / quality of Zwilling Spirit thermolon ceramic cookware? Thanks!



  65. Hi will like to know is JML ceramic pan safe for health?

    As they mention;

    *Ceramic coated cooking surface
    * Non-stick and PTFE & PFOA free cooking surface
    * Scratch resistance
    * Durable forged aluminium base



  66. Can someone please tell me a cookware that does not contain nickel? Thought maybe glass cookware, but not sure what to buy or where to buy it. Would ceramic coated glass cookware be an option, and is something like that even available and if so where? I am highly allergic to nickel, need answers fast.
    Thank you!!



  67. As one reader said, iron CAN be toxic IF you have a condition where it accumulates in the blood. My Grandmother, Mother and I always used cast iron. My husband and I had blood tests done a year ago and our iron levels were normal. So, if you are concerned about it, see your health care provider and have your mineral levels tested. Sometimes doctors will not order those tests without requesting them.

    I have no problem with ANYTHING sticking by using just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, and I don’t know what the person was talking about with the loss of flavor. I pride myself on my cooking, use only fresh herbs and find no problem with the resulting taste and I have never, never noticed a metallic taste in my food, even acid based food.

    I cooked with copper clad stainless steel for a while. They are very pretty and look nice if you want to just hang them as decoration. I gave mine away because you can’t brown anything without it sticking to the pan unless you drown it in oil but then all you taste is the oil. So I went back to my cast iron. It does take a little experience to understand cast iron but it’s worth it. And…and this is a biggie for me, my pride and joy is my Electrolux induction range which works flawlessly with cast iron. I just put a paper towel under the skillet so it won’t scratch my stove top.

    I love the clean up with cast iron. When the pan has cooled I just wipe out any remaining oil or fat, heat it back up and then put 1/4 cup of water in the pan and scrape it gently with a spatula (the same technique you use to make a reduction). Everything comes right off. Rinse with running water, wipe out with a paper towel, allow to dry and wipe with some fresh oil to protect it. Every now and then I’ll put a little extra oil in it and around the edges. Heat it up until the oil is on the point of smoking then remove to a trivet and let it cool. Wipe and store. This keeps it stick free and beautifully seasoned.

    Yes, and it’s true, leaving tomato based sauces or other acidic foods sitting in the pan, even for a half hour, is a bad thing. I haven’t found that it changes the taste of the food but will remove a lot of coating from the pan. For those things I still use stainless steel.



  68. Hi Jini- Do you know how the Le Creuset Cast iron frying pans compare with the Le Creuset toughened non stick pans? Are both no toxic? the website says that the later has non toxic teflon coating, thanks Melissa



  69. I haven’t looked at it, but if it’s Teflon, how can it be non-toxic REALLY? Whenever a marketing dept makes a claim, be sure to research the actual data, then draw your own conclusion.



  70. Hi Jini, What I find strange is that Le Creuset don’t try to sell/advertise their cast iron products as being the safest. This might mean they are not too sure themselves of how safe they are. I still plan on buying their cookware but just wondered about this. Thanks.



  71. Colleen – or perhaps Le Creuset is not aware of growing consumer health concerns and that this would actually be a selling point!



  72. Corning amber visions skillet seems worth trying,not sure if easy to clean after eggs, what do you think?



  73. I haven’t used Visions skillet, but having experience with Pyroflam (high tech ceramic) I may say that everything sticks to Pyroflam in some extraordinary way, even soups burn on the bottom if not stirred constantly.
    These vessels need heat diffuser for gas burners (piece of 3 mm copper sheet would suffice), but even with it I still doubt they would perform well. They are very bad heat conductors.
    My enameled Staub frying pan is also useless for eggs that stick badly and make cleaning a real task.
    As I said in my previous post – well seasoned raw cast iron does miracles. Seasoned and scraped with metal scraper after each use to polish the surface. Always heated up to high temperature, a little bit of suet/lard smeared over the bottom and
    you can make omelets, potato pancakes, regular pancakes and anything that usually sticks to the pan. Try it with glass, or stainless! Only teflon can match it, but obviously we don’t want it.
    I think that actually it would be possible with stainless lining if it developed black seasoning, but who wants to have a stainless pan that looks like it’s dirty?



  74. Well I do have the Glass Corning Visions skillet and have used it for a while now. It is pretty good for eggs, but yes they burn easily. It is not that easy to clean but if you soak it all day in the sink then it is fine. I find it does not need a lot of heat to do the job. I also have cast iron, and it is great. Sometimes when I don’t want the iron taste too much I would prefer the glass. In any event I am no longer using any of the “green” or non-stick stuff anymore. For storage in the refrigerator nothing beats Pyrex glass also. No metals touching the food….



  75. IN re to comment #28 :Thendriak on February 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    You fergit 1 thing. A pan at cooking tempt is far past the temp needed to kill anything that can kill a human. BTIM bacteria and virii. If your last cooked item was a tomato egg and cyanide omelet you made for your inlaws, or Botch infused Bon Viviane Vichyssoise and you didn’t give it a good cleaning, the pan is clean.

    Any bacteria/virii that is active after being raised to 400 plus degrees is not carbon based, and grows at depth around sea vents over volcanoes. Those weird weird things eat sulfur and methane.

    EXCEPT for prions, and if there were prions in you last dish all who ate of it are 3 years away from death. Apparently,(unless new research shows differently)Prions can withstand super high temps and flame. See the book, THE DEADLY FEAST.



  76. Hi all,

    If you eat eggs don’t worry about Teflon in your food. I know that sounds weird, but apparently the bad part of Teflon/Silverstone/ptffe burns off the pan at about 500 degrees, or thereabouts. flames are at 451 degrees. Every bird born has that chemical in its body AND its eggs. So you get dosed every time you eat an egg (lord knows what else)/hot wings/chicken salad sangwitch.

    I once called Du Pont and asked about this and the techie help desk said absolutely. These pans out gas everytime they are used and it can be found in the flesh and eggs of every avian on the planet.

    (I had heard about this on a Local PBS station that was interviewing either an author or a scientist who wrote a paper. And frying pans are not the only source, lots of medical devices use it. It is used to reduce friction in train trucks (that have huge disc of the stuff, think washer).

    Just remember man has created most of the issues. But nature has lotsa toxins laying around waiting for a human to earn a Darwin Award!



  77. Jini,

    Thanks for writing the review. I bought a set of Lodge cookware based on your review and have one question. In your review, you mentioned the following:

    “The remaining pans cooked well with just a film of oil. The Le Creuset pan and the two cast-iron pans produced amazing results. Nothing stuck, including the eggs, and it was quite easy to roll up omelets.”

    I just tried cooking eggs in my new pan. I washed it, dried it, and then coated it with oil. I cooked eggs and they stuck terribly. Am I doing something wrong? How did you make your Lodge pan non-stick?

    Thanks,

    Chris



  78. I’m curious. Is there a reason why Amazon sells items; such as Le Crueset, WMF etc. – products that should be made in France or Germany, however when bought from Amazon will say Made in China?
    Does that mean that it actually is not a guaranteed Le Crueset product and should not be trusted to use?



  79. Hi Rissa,

    Some companies farm out manufacturing for certain items. Le Creuset, for example, still manufactures all of their cast iron stuff in France but their non cast iron items have been found with “made in Thailand” written on them. The best thing to do would be to contact the manufacturer directly about it and notify both the manufacturer and Amazon if you purchase something which shouldn’t have been manufactured where the label says it came from.

    Kind regards,
    Justin
    Customer Care



  80. I may have missed it on this thread but any comments on STONE COATED pans.
    Are STONE COATED pans good for frying steaks and cooking mixed vegetables?
    Am a bit confused – are STONE pans lined with PFOA and other toxins free? Seems some are and some are not?
    If STONE pan is PFOA free, are they fairly non stick anyway?
    Want to buy one soon – on special for $45 (AU) 26cm size.
    What is a very good stone pan to buy?
    Are they good in a dishwasher?
    Do the stone surfaces wear out slow or fast with normal family cooking?
    If stone not good what would you recommend around $50US



  81. Steve – you will have to contact the manufacturer of the brand you’re interested in and then do your own research into their claims.



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