Nonstick Cookware Problems
I want to share why I gave up nonstick cookware and then let you know what I now use instead. I first heard that non-stick cookware (Teflon) was toxic about 14-15 years ago. The danger isn't just in the chipped pieces, but even brand new Teflon releases toxic fumes when it is heated. I was shocked but it made sense. I ditched all my Teflon back then and I haven't used it since.
Sure, it's easier to use nonstick cookware when cooking things like scrambled eggs and when washing up, considering that foods just slide right off. However, the convenience of the synthetic polymer in nonstick cookware that makes things not stick is not worth the risks. You can research and read more about it but the fumes from these non-stick cookware coatings can actually kill pet birds and these fumes are toxic to humans!
There are a few other types of cookware that I have been using over the last two decades
- Iron Skillets – I have multiple iron skillets I inherited from my dad and then some I purchased for myself. Iron skillets need to be seasoned and maintained to work well. So, if you invest in them make sure you learn how to do this. Every time I teach someone how to season and maintain their iron skillets, they contact me a few weeks later with excitement at how easy it is to cook in their iron skillets now that they know how! Properly seasoned iron skillets are as easy to cook on as nonstick cookware! The only downside of iron is that it is incredibly heavy!
- Enameled cast iron – my favorite brand is LeCreuset. I have three items of this brand that I use constantly! The downside is like cast iron, it is heavy and over time the enamel can chip, it's also pretty expensive. My most used piece of cookware; one I purchased about a decade or more ago is the Doufeu (kinda wish I'd bought the red one now but these things last forever, so I'm still using my blue one).
In the 1600s, cast iron Dutch ovens were designed to be placed directly onto burning wood or embers. Cooks would pile coal or embers on top of the vessel in order to surround the food with heat, creating an oven effect. The doufeu features a recessed lid designed to hold ice rather than embers. The doufeu can be used just like any round or oval oven, but it has added performance benefits when it comes to slow cooking. As moisture begins to evaporate inside the doufeu, the cool ice-filled lid causes this moisture to condense. Specially designed dimples on the flat interior of the lid then direct the moisture back down onto the food. This self-basting effect minimizes the need to add additional water and ensures that food remains moist, nutrients are not lost and flavors intensify. Even when the ice in the lid melts, the self-basting process continues to function, as long as water in the lid remains below the boiling point.
- Ceramics – Xtrema Ceramic Cookware is made from clay, water, and various inorganic minerals like Kaolinite, Mullite Petalite, Cordierite and refractory clay that are found in the earth’s crust; it's safe, non-toxic and contains no metals, lead or cadmium. In addition, there are no chemicals or glues in Xtrema ceramic cookware. I have three pieces of cookware by Xtrema, one small saucepan, a medium saucepan and a large pot. My only complaint about this cookware is that you have to be careful not to drop or bang it as it may chip.
- Stoneware – You may have seen me use this baking pan in some of my meal prep videos on YouTube as it is another one of my favorites. I contemplated getting the pizza stone but decided on the baking pan as I can still make pizza in it but having the edge around the outside means I can make lots of other dishes in it as well, whereas a pizza stone would not hold in ingredients in the same manner.
- Glass, like Pyrex – all of my pie dishes are Pyrex. These are great and very durable as long as you don't drop them they'll last forever! These are fairly inexpensive compared with the other types mentioned here. I do have a pyrex saucepan and soup pot but I don't really use these as much because I feel like they scorch easily.
- Stainless Steel – is my last choice because it does have alloys containing nickel, chromium, molybdenum, and carbon. I use these on occasion for their durability. I have one frying pan and two saucepans that are stainless steel. They are very durable and what I expect my children to use when they are cooking. Mainly because they aren't as heavy as iron or enamel-coated iron, and because they aren't as breakable as the Ceramic and Glass cookware. When my children become young adults they do use my skillets more but for starting out little chefs, we use the stainless steel. Much safer than using nonstick cookware and worrying about my kids breathing the toxic fumes. It's nice to keep a stainless steel baking sheet as well. I wouldn't mind having a set like my daughter has, they feel high quality and I love cooking with them when I'm at her house.
*Update 2021 – I found a cookware set that meets all my requirements and is a breeze to cook with. You can read my full review, but just briefly
360 Cookware is made of three primary metals that are bonded together, with a .110 gauge of thickness. The inside layer (cooking surface) is T-304 Surgical Grade Stainless Steel, 18/8. (18/8) refers to the percentage amount of chromium and nickel in the metal. In this case, it’s 18% chromium and 8% nickel. The outside layer (sits on the burner) is T-400 series stainless steel which has a lower nickel content and high carbon steel content to interact on induction cook tops. These two layers of stainless steel surround a layer of aluminum, which ensures superior heat conduction and even heating.360 Cookware
I recently shared how I keep my iron skillets looking fantastic and perfectly seasoned in a live video on my ThatOrganicMom Facebook page if you want to see exactly how I do it:
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