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Consumer Advocate Mark Jala Issues Warning About New PFOA Free Nonstick Cookware

PFOA free nonstick cookware should be healthy cookware, right? It might not be. Consumer advocate Mark Jala issues a warning to all buyers of healthy and safe cookware that just because a cookware advertises as PFOA free that it may not be healthy or safe cookware. The problem lies in that huge companies making millions of dollars on PFOA over the years are not going to stand by and just watch that money go away. DuPont, 3M, and other makers of PFOA have replaced PFOA with another chemical compound. Time will tell just how good, or how bad, it really is.

Is PFOA Free Nonstick Cookware Healthy?

PFOA in Our Bodies Today

PFOA has been manufactured in industrial quantities since the 1940’s. It is not a new product. It helps create a slick surface. Today, PFOA is applied to pre-treated carpets, carpet care liquids, apparel, upholstery, textiles, medical garments, floor wax and wax removers, tile sealants, food contact paper, dental floss and of course, cookware. Studies show 98% of all people have PFOA in their bloodstream right now.

Imagine you come home from work, tired and exhausted. You take your coat off and walk on your ScotchGuard protected carpet and plop down on your stain resistant sofa. It feels so good to relax. You take in a good deep, relaxing breath. Little did you know that the dust you stirred up walking on the carpet and sitting down on the sofa lifted up tiny particles of PFOA that is now being inhaled in that relaxing deep breath. Congratulations, you are now one of the 98% that has PFOA in your system.

A good history about PFOA and how deceptive the manufacturers have been over time can be found here at Environmental Working Group.

PFOA Free Nonstick Cookware Consumer Warning

Consumer advocate, and founder of www.YourCookwareHelper.com, issues a warning to all buyers of PFOA free nonstick cookware. “If you think the new PFOA free nonstick cookware you are buying is healthy cookware, you may want to look again. DuPont, 3M and other manufacturers of PFOA products have replaced PFOA with another chemical compound. That new chemical compound may be what is in that new cookware you are considering. The bottom line is no one knows the health implications of that new chemical compound. PFOA started being made in the 1940’s and it wasn’t until the late 1990’s to early 2000’s before any action was even considered about PFOA. PFOA will have been in production 75 years before being voluntarily removed from products. How long will it take for the PFOA replacements to be fully vetted for health concerns?” says Mark Jala. “We just don’t know yet about these new products.”

Healthy Cookware Recommendations

Mark Jala recommends, until these new PFOA replacements can be fully vetted, to stick with the known healthy and safe cookware products. These products include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Ceramic
  • Cast iron and enameled cast iron
  • Clay
  • New variations in “green” cookware

Until the PFOA free nonstick cookware is fully vetted for safety, this website will show on the dashboard the following graphic(this change will be fully implemented in 2014):

Maybe Healthy Cookware  For more details on healthy cookware please see the other articles on this site:

  1. Healthy Cookware and Safe Cookware Trends
  2. Healthy Nonstick Cookware for Your Health and Cooking
  3. What is Safe Cookware and Healthy Cookware
  4. Is Anodized Aluminum Cookware Considered Safe Cookware?

Some of the favorite healthy cookware items recommended on this site include the following:

Scanpan Classic 8 Piece Cookware Set Scanpan Classic 8 Piece Cookware Set
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Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
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Healthy Cookware and Safe Cookware Trends

Healthy cookware has come of age. I see more safe cookware on the market than ever before. Here are the trends I see.

First, let me confirm that there are no changes in the safety of teflon or other traditional nonstick coatings that contain PFOA and PTFE. On their website, DuPont continues to claim that their coating is safe to cook with using normal temperatures. When overheated they acknowledge the fumes are toxic and cause a condition in humans called polymer fume fever. The potential danger comes from overheating the pan, scratches through the coating to the real cookware material, and harm from ingesting peeling flakes of the nonstick coating. More information can be found in my original article about safe and healthy cookware.

Second, let me confirm there are no changes in the safety of anodized aluminum. All manufacturers still advertise the material as safe. The potential danger comes from scratches in the surface that can lead to aluminum leaching into your food. More information on the aluminum issue can be found in my article about Anodized Aluminum Cookware.

Healthy Cookware is Safe Cookware

If you want the assurance you are cooking with healthy cookware for you and your children, you have alternatives. You don’t have to be afraid high heat or scratches in the cooking surface are leaching harmful chemicals into your food. There are many selections that are considered healthy cookware.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Cookware SetStainless steel cookware is still some of the healthiest cookware available. One choice you will have to make when it comes to stainless steel is the non-clad, clad, and if clad, how much. Stainless steel cookware that is not clad will be inexpensive, but not very good cookware. Stainless steel by itself does not distribute heat very well. Consequently, cookware manufacturers insert a layer of aluminum and sometimes copper, in between the layers of stainless steel. This is called clad. The inserted aluminum is perfectly safe and cannot touch your food. Some stainless steel clad cookware only has the aluminum on the base where it distributes heat very well across the bottom. The more expensive and best performing cookware has aluminum fully clad not only on the base but also up the side walls. This surrounds your food with excellent heating and usually takes less heat to properly cook food.

Stainless steel clad cookware is usually 3 or 5 layers. Sometimes you will find 7 layer cookware. The added layers can help, but usually just add to the cost.

My favorite Stainless Steel Cookware Set is the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro. It is reasonably priced and the quality is near All-Clad quality. I’ve been using some pieces for a long time and love them.

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
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Cast Iron Cookware

Staub Coq au VinCast iron cookware comes in 2 varieties: preseasoned or enameled. The old standard is the preseasoned which builds up a near nonstick surface over time. Enameled cast iron cookware is very attractive with a variety of colors, and offers a near nonstick surface also. Cast iron cookware is heavy. It is not great to use on flat top stoves because of the weight and possible scratching.

My favorite cast iron cookware comes from Lodge. Whether preseasoned or enameled, Lodge is excellent quality and offered at bargain prices compared to the very high quality Le Creuset or Staub.

Lodge L Series E2OC30 Enameled Cast Iron Oval Casserole, Liberty Blue, 2-Quart Lodge L Series E2OC30 Enameled Cast Iron Oval Casserole, Liberty Blue, 2-Quart
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Ceramic Cookware and Clay Cookware

Healthy Cookware - Emile Henry BrazierCookware manufacturers are offering more ceramic type cookware, usually as an interior coating. It tries to compete with the nonstick coatings and some do a pretty decent job. While most clay cookware is for inside the oven, there is 1 brand that has an excellent product for stovetop use also. Clay cookware offers superb heating characteristics.

My favorite Clay Cookware is the Emile Henry Flame Top Cookware.


 

“Green” Cookware

Lastly we have a selection of cookware advertised as “green” or eco-friendly. Some of these have ceramic interiors. We have to be careful of some advertised as “green” because while they take some measures to be eco-friendly, they still have chemicals either in the product or used in the manufacturing stages. Not all of those are bad either, making the choices even more difficult. The only ones I suggest being really careful of are the ones advertised on TV having marble, concrete, or diamonds in the cooking surface.

My favorite “green” cookware is Scanpan. More than just a coating, the cooking surface is an integral part of the cookware and very good at being nonstick. And it is dishwasher safe.

Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set
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Another one I like that has survived my long-term testing is the Cuisinart GreenGourmet.

Cuisinart GGT-10 GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart GGT-10 GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set
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A Complete Healthy Cookware Set

As a final word I’d like to recommend a tip. As the founder of the Home Cooking Academy, offering online cooking classes, I push my cookware to the limits. My personal preference is stainless steel, but stainless steel is horrible for delicate dishes like eggs and fish. Add cheese to your omelet and you’ll have a cleaning mess as it will stick badly to stainless steel. Regardless of which route someone takes, I always recommend a stainless steel and a nonstick skillet, preferably 12″. A stainless steel skillet is excellent for saute and searing food where you’ll deglaze the pan with a cold liquid to make a great sauce. The nonstick skillet will be used for your omelets and fish fillet dishes at lower heat levels. Scanpan and Cuisinart GreenGourmet are excellent choices for the healthy nonstick skillets. A Cuisinart Multiclad Pro skillet is great if you have a set of something other than stainless steel.

 

Healthy Nonstick Cookware for Your Health and Cooking

Healthy nonstick cookware exists and can make a huge difference in your health and ease of cooking. I recommend 2 brands with excellent products. One might think using the terms healthy and nonstick together may seem like a contradiction. Times are changing, and DuPont in my healthy nonstick cookware selections. It has long been considered that the healthier cookware choices are glass, cast iron, and stainless steel. Enameled cast iron is very popular, and with a non-porous enameled surface, it is nearly nonstick. Today there are two cookware brands I’d like to introduce you to that offer healthy alternatives to nonstick performance.

Healthy Nonstick Cookware

Scanpan Pro Healthy Nonstick CookwareScanpan Cookware is a company from Denmark that makes a carbon steel core cookware coated with a ceramic/titanium surface. This ceramic/titanium surface is nearly as good a nonstick as what DuPont makes. The cookware is relatively light, and it is priced reasonably well.

Scanpan Professional 10.25-Inch Fry Pan Scanpan Professional 10.25-Inch Fry Pan
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Check out the details about Scanpan Cookware. Scanpan now makes 8 product lines, in stainless steel and healthy nonstick cookware. 

NOTE: I have been using Scanpan classic cookware for several years now and it still has an excellent nonstick surface. The best part: it’s dishwasher safe! Yes, a healthy nonstick cookware that is dishwasher safe.

Cuisinart GreenGourmet Healthy Nonstick CookwareCuisinart GreenGourmet is a healthy nonstick cookware that is very good quality. I’ve been testing a GreenGourmet skillet for several years and the performance is still excellent. I would not put it on the same level as the DuPont style nonstick, but it does still slide food off remarkably well. Cuisinart GreenGourmet comes in 2 varieties, a stainless steel outside or anodized aluminum. The one I’m testing is anodized aluminum. It heats very evenly and retains heat exceptionally well. 

Cuisinart GG22-24 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch Open Skillet Cuisinart GG22-24 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch Open Skillet
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Here are a couple alternatives for those looking to use healthy cookware and something different from the usual cast iron, glass, or stainless steel. There will be much more info on these brands coming in the near future.

Happy Cooking!

 

Is Anodized Aluminum Cookware Considered Safe Cookware?

With all the hard anodized aluminum cookware on the market, is it considered safe cookware? You’ll be surprised to know where you can ingest aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight, a great heat conductor, and generally inexpensive. Since normal aluminum is reactive with food and known to be toxic, anodized aluminum with its electro-chemical treatment, has become the standard for aluminum cookware. Because it is still aluminum, questions remain about its safety. In this article, I expand on a previous article on safe and healthy cookware where I first addressed the safety issue of anodized aluminum cookware.

This article was updated on October 12, 2017.

Aluminum in our Environment

Aluminum is the 3rd most common element in the earth’s crust. It is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the dirt we walk on. Because it is so plentiful, it is inexpensive. Aluminum is already in many products we use:

  • cookware and utensils
  • cans for our beverages
  • anti-caking agents for salt and sugar
  • baking powder
  • antiperspirants
  • bleaching agents for white flour
  • cake mixes
  • commercial teas
  • toothpastes, sunscreens, and cosmetics
  • infant formulas – soy formulas contain 10 times more aluminum than milk formulas
  • antacids, buffered aspirin, and many over-the-counter medications
  • vaccines

Anodized Aluminum Cookware

Anodized aluminum cookware has been around for a long time. It is lightweight and inexpensive. Natively, it is soft, and it does react with acidic foods, becoming toxic. Manufacturers found that aluminum can be anodized to make it stronger, slicker, more durable, and non-reactive with foods. Calphalon, a maker of anodized aluminum cookware explains it this way:

Unison Anodized Aluminum Cookware“Hard-anodization is an electro-chemical process that hardens aluminum. (Hard-Anodized aluminum is 30% harder than stainless steel.) During hard-anodization, aluminum is submerged in an acid bath, then subjected to electrical charges. The result is a chemical reaction wherein the surface of the aluminum combines with oxygen to become aluminum oxide. This reaction is also known as oxidation, a process which occurs spontaneously in nature. Hard-anodization is actually controlled, accelerated oxidation.

What does it do?

Hard-anodized surfaces resist abrasion and corrosion. A hard-anodized pan is the most durable pan you can buy.

Anodized materials have an extremely long life span. Anodized surfaces do not chip or peel. In fact, anodized aluminum is used to protect satellites from the harsh environment of space, to harden automotive racing parts against friction and heat, as well as for display cases, coolers, and grills for the food industry.

An anodized finish is chemically stable. It does not decompose. It is nontoxic. High heat levels will not damage the anodized finish. Anodized surfaces are heat-resistant to the melting point of aluminum (1,221°F).

Most important for cookware, hard-anodizing makes cookware surfaces so ultra-smooth that they become virtually nonporous (without pores). Pores in metal cookware are one of the leading reasons why foods stick while cooking.”

Aluminum as a Health Concern

Aluminum and our health was brought to our attention in the 1970’s when a Canadian research team linked aluminum with Alzheimer’s Disease when they found high concentrations of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Since then, the research has been scrutinized in a manner similar to the chicken and the egg story. Which came first, the disease or the aluminum?

We do know that high concentrations of aluminum are toxic. The December 2007 Idaho Observer article “Aluminum Toxicity: A Misdiagnosed Epidemic” shows that aluminum is a known toxic substance when accumulated in tissue or the brain by reporting the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) info on aluminum:

“In simple terms, the most notable symptoms of aluminum poisoning are diminishing intellectual function, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and, in extreme cases, full blown dementia and Alzheimer’s. Aluminum toxicity also causes bone softening and bone mass loss, kidney and other soft tissue damage and, in large enough doses, can cause cardiac arrest.”

From the “Toxological Profile for Aluminum”, September 2006, we also know that:

  • Foods such as processed cheese and cakes may contain moderate amounts of aluminum as a result of its addition during processing.
  • People are exposed to aluminum in some cosmetics, such as deodorants, and in pharmaceuticals such as antacids, buffered aspirin, and intravenous fluids. Antacids have 300–600 mg aluminum hydroxide (approximately 104–208 mg of aluminum) per tablet/capsule/5 milliliters. Buffered aspirin may contain 10–20 mg of aluminum per tablet. Vaccines may contain small amounts of aluminum compounds, such as aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, or aluminum sulfate (alum).
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of aluminum in vaccines to no greater than 0.85 mg/dose
  • Factory workers who breathe large amounts of aluminum dust can have lung problems, such as coughing or changes that show up in chest X-rays.
  • Some workers who breathe aluminum dust or aluminum fumes have decreased performance in some tests that measure functions of the nervous system. Some people who have kidney disease store a lot of aluminum in their bodies. The kidney disease causes less aluminum to be removed from the body in the urine.
  • People may get skin rashes from the aluminum compounds in some underarm antiperspirants.

Healthy Cookware Recommendations:

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
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Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set
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Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware and My Recommendation

Anodized Aluminum Cookware Manufacturers and industry lobbyists all claim it is safe. Their biggest argument is that the amount of aluminum leached from hard anodized aluminum cookware is a mere 35 micrograms. That is a small amount. By itself, as a single dose, it is not harmful. My recommendation is this:

I recommend you to avoid hard anodized aluminum cookware. The issue is not about the small single dose. It is about the cumulative effect it can have. Just like eating a single chocolate bar is not going to cause a serious disease. However, 3-6 chocolate bars a day every day, will have an impact on your body. If most meals are cooked with anodized aluminum frypans, saute pans, sauce pans, and stockpots, the cumulative effect, along with the aluminum you already get from other items in our environment, may cause a health issue.

February 2015 Update:

Since the time I originally wrote this article, the cookware industry has made some changes. Today, many cookware products made of hard anodized aluminum are coated with nonstick surfaces. Nonstick surfaces have their own health issues, especially when scratched or exposed to high heat. Even the outside of aluminum cookware is now often coated. This does limit the exposure to aluminum. Beware of these products if the outside nonstick surface is scratched. ALSO NOTE: When baking, I see a lot of baking products made of native aluminum like baking sheets, etc.

Aluminum is everywhere. If you are like me and try to eat healthy, the cookware we use is a place where aluminum exposure can be reduced. As a tester of a lot of cookware, I admit I do like the way anodized aluminum cooks. For me, I try to use the healthy cookware materials I mention in my other articles, or the recommended cookware sets above, and pay attention to the surface quality of any anodized aluminum cookware I may use. We may not be able to control the aluminum in our food when we eat out, but it is something we can control at home.

In this article, I offered information about how common aluminum is in our environment, and how dangerous it can be if too much accumulates in our body. By itself, the aluminum leached from a single cooking with anodized aluminum cookware is not harmful. The caution is in the accumulation of aluminum not only from cookware, but also from other sources already in our environment and other products we may consume.

Happy Cooking!

What is Safe Cookware and Healthy Cookware

Can certain cookware be considered safe cookware or healthy cookware? I go over what makes cookware safe and healthy. You might be surprised at a couple cookware materials! We’ve all heard the phrase “We are what we eat.” We probably haven’t thought of that in terms of aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, glass, or polytetrafluoroethylene. 

Introducing the Your Cookware Helper Exclusive “Healthy Cookware” Logo

Healthy Cookware

Your Cookware Helper tries to make your cookware decisions as easy as possible. We were the first to introduce a logo to easily identify dishwasher safe cookware. Now, I am happy to introduce you to the Healthy Cookware logo. Soon, you will be seeing it on all the pages identifying the cookware known to be safe and healthy.

You Are Ultimately Responsible For Your Health

Safe Cookware Healthy CookwareAs I write this article and summarize the facts, I don’t need to remind you that ultimately it is you who has to take control and responsibility for your health. As you review this information, you have to decide if what you are presented with makes sense for you. Understand that cookware manufacturers are always going to claim their products are safe. There are industry associations, representing manufacturers, who may conduct some tests and claim certain product lines as safe cookware. Regardless of these claims, it is still you who has to decide whether you believe the tests and arguments presented. History is prolific with examples of products claimed to be safe, tested as being safe, but ultimately recalled or slowly banned from use. Doctors once advertised and promoted cigarette smoking as good and safe. That is one example the medical community would love to forget. So as you read what is presented, it is OK to be skeptical of certain claims and tests. It is your health, and you know you are responsible for your own health.

What Makes Healthy Cookware or Safe Cookware?

Nonstick Skillets are NOT Considered Healthy CookwareThe most important health factor to consider is the transfer, or leaching, of the cookware cooking surface to the foods being cooked. External surfaces that do not come in contact with food are not a health concern. Copper cookware was once used as a common material to cook food. It was later discovered that native copper interacts with foods, especially acidic foods, and is highly toxic. Today copper is only used clad in between other cookware materials or on the outside, and not on internal cooking surfaces. Another factor is not just the internal cooking surface, but what happens to that cooking surface when it is heated. Heat changes the composition of materials. What may be safe at room temperature can be extremely toxic when applied to a heat source.

Is Nonstick Cookware Healthy and Safe Cookware?

That is the million dollar question, and most probably, millions of dollars have been spent arguing each side. Additional information can be found on our Nonstick Cookware page. Here’s a synopsis of what we know:

  • Teflon is a patented product, discovered in 1938 by DuPont, and approved for cookware by the FDA in 1960.
  • Many lawsuits have been filed over the nonstick surface both as a cookware and in its manufacturing.
  • “In 2004, DuPont agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle another class-action lawsuit brought by Ohio and West Virginia residents who contended that releases of PFOA from a plant in West Virginia contaminated supplies of drinking water.” 
    New York Times, Alina Tugend, October 14, 2006
  • DuPont acknowledges that when their non stick surface is heated beyond a certain level, it can kill birds and create a sickness in humans they call Polymer Fume Fever. It produces symptoms resembling a cold.
  • All nonstick surface manufacturers claim their products are safe. The FDA does not OK a product as “safe” but rather that it is safe for use in cookware.
  • There have been no published studies on the effect of ingesting chipping and peeling non stick surfaces have on humans.

I do not consider traditional DuPont nonstick style surfaces to be considered healthy cookware or safe cookware. There are safe and healthy nonstick cookware alternatives, however. DuPont style nonstick cookware has chemicals used in production and use, like PFOA and PTFE, that are known cancer causing agents.  

Safe Nonstick Cookware

I do recommend Scanpan as a safe and healthy nonstick cookware. I have been using Scanpan classic cookware for several years now and I love it. It is durable and the nonstick surface is nearly as good now as it was when I bought it. And the best part is that it is truly dishwasher safe. Check this out:

Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set Scanpan Classic 11-Piece Deluxe Cookware Set
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Is Hard Anodized Cookware Safe Cookware?

Anolon Advanced Cookware SetSince the 1970’s when Canadian researchers reported that the brains of Alzheimer’s disease victims contained abnormally high levels of aluminum, aluminum cookware has been under fire. “Now cookware manufacturers have developed a process for treating aluminum that retains the heat conductivity properties of the metal, but changes aluminum in other ways. The process, called anodization, involves a series of electrochemical baths that thicken the oxide film that forms naturally on aluminum. This supplemental coating hardens the metal, making it more scratch resistant. Food barely sticks on the hard, smooth surface of this altered aluminum, making it easier to clean.” FDA Consumer Magazine.

In reference to anodized aluminum cookware, I am not referring to the variety that has a nonstick surface applied to the inside. When it comes to health matters, the reality is that there are no published studies indicating safety one way or another. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Manufacturers and industry lobbyists all claim it is safe. There is a strong argument in their favor in that the aluminum has been treated, albeit electrochemically, and what the food is cooking on is technically no longer standard aluminum.
  • Aluminum is ingested from so many food sources today, the amount leached from cookware, about 35 micrograms, is a fraction ingested from a single antacid tablet, as much as 5,000 micrograms.

Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware that is in perfect condition appears to be safe cookware. My caution comes under 2 circumstances: 1) Avoid anodized aluminum cookware once it has become scratched and the native aluminum can leach through, and 2) Avoid it if your health routine already has you avoiding aluminum from your diet. Additional information can be found on our Anodized Aluminum Cookware page, or the article Is Anodized Aluminum Cookware Safe.

UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this article, most anodized aluminum cookware comes with a nonstick surface at least on the inside. There are very few product lines available today where food is cooked on the anodized aluminum surface. When it comes to the health aspect, you have to consider the nonstick surface.

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Healthy Cookware?

Cuisinart Chefs Classic Stainless Steel Cookware SetStainless Steel is considered a safe and healthy cookware, with one caveat. It is usually recommended that the inside cooking surface of stainless steel cookware be 18/10 stainless steel. That 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The published safe intake rate of chromium is 50-200 micrograms per day. One meal prepared in 18/10 stainless steel cookware gives you about 45 micrograms. So, that is fine. When it comes to nickel, some people are allergic to nickel. It is thought that the average adult consumes between 150 to 250 micrograms of nickel per day. Even when cooking highly acidic foods like tomatoes or rhubarb, it does not give off anywhere near that amount. If someone is highly allergic to nickel, an alternative is to use a stainless steel cookware with less nickel, like 18/8 or 18/0. Additional information can be found on our Stainless Steel Cookware page.

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
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What Cookware Materials Are Considered Healthy and Safe?

Most cooks desiring to cook with healthy cookware will usually use glass/ceramic/stoneware, cast iron, and stainless steel. There is a reason why glass is used in lab experiments. It is not porous and does not react with its contents. Glass cookware has been around for a long time and still used heavily today. Ceramic cookware, though can chip, can have excellent heating properties and be easy to clean. Stoneware can be shaped and colored to be suitable for many decors. Though used primarily inside the stove, there are some pieces that can be used on the stovetop. Additional information can be found on our Glass Cookware page.

Cast iron, plain or enameled, is an excellent choice because of its long lasting heating abilities. The enamel surface is glass based, not paint based. Additional information can be found on our Cast Iron Cookware page.

Le Creuset Cerise Cherry Enameled Cast Iron Round French Oven, 5.5 Quart Le Creuset Cerise Cherry Enameled Cast Iron Round French Oven, 5.5 Quart
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In this article I summarized the findings on the health aspects of dominant cookware materials. Be sure to check out the links to the individual materials of interest. It is important that everyone take charge of their health, and become knowledgeable about healthy and safe cookware materials.

Happy Cooking!

 

Cookware and Cookware Trends – Updated November 2013

Cookware and cookware trends need to be reviewed annually. What cookware product lines that have been dropped is as important as what is added. Cookware and kitchen trends are always fun to watch. While some new fangled devices make a big hit, others fall into obscurity. It’s interesting to see new advances in cookware trends in terms of colors, usability features, handle designs, and cladding of materials. In this article, I take a look at cookware trends I see and review popular cookware brands.

Staub Cast Iron Cookware

Cookware and Cookware Trends

There are 4 trends I see happening in the cookware marketplace:

  1. Cookware manufacturer websites are transforming in a bad way. It is getting harder to navigate and find detailed information. They tend to push selected products and sell direct from their own websites where the store is the only place to get information. What is the purpose of MSRP when they discount on their own sites? They are moving away from spelling out clearly why each product line exists or what differentiates one from another. Cuisinart does one of the best jobs with their cookware products page offering a helpful cookware comparison.
  2. Many cookware manufacturers are expanding into other kitchen products, namely kitchen electronics and cutlery. Slow cookers, sandwich presses, immersion blenders, toasters, and indoor grills are popular.
  3. Color choices are increasing. Gone are the days when a kitchen had to choose between black, silver, or red. When the enamel cast iron colors exploded on the scene, kitchens around the world lit up in color. Rachael Ray rocked the industry with her signature orange and unique cookware shapes. Today various colors are coming out for the entire cookware line. Anolon, Circulon, and Farberware, of Meyer Manufacturing, offer grey, bronze, red, titanium, orange, and chocolate colors.
  4. Mutli-function devices are making new inroads into the kitchen. Just like the convection microwave, today we can see coffee-maker, toaster, and griddle all-in-one units. Waring has a rotisserie turkey deep fryer and steamer. Single and multi-purpose devices and gadgets are swamping the market. Kitchen stores see mango pitters, strawberry cutters, corn huskers, corn holders, corn butterers, etc. fill walls of kitchen gadgets sure to fill countless kitchen drawers.

What’s New and Available in Cookware Brands

While many brands are reducing their product offerings, a few are expanding. Here’s a round-up of popular brands with what’s in and what’s out.

All-Clad

Five Current Product Lines:

  1. D5 Brushed Stainless Steel
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Copper Core
  4. MC2
  5. Hard Anodized

Cop-r-Chef has been discontinued, which had a copper exterior and stainless steel interior. Products are still available at Amazon.com and other stores.

All-Clad LTD2 no longer an active product line. The dishwasher safe hard anodized aluminum exterior with stainless steel interiors has been discontinued. Items are still available  at Amazon.com and other stores.

D5 Brushed Stainless Steel – gaining in prominence. The 5 layer cookware incorporates advanced usability features already found in competitors like Cuisinart. Shiny induction ready stainless steel exterior and the new starburst brushed stainless steel interior (designed for less stick performance) is a solid addition to the product line.

Anolon

Six current product lines:

  1. Advanced
  2. Advanced Bronze
  3. Chef Clad
  4. Nouvelle Copper
  5. Nouvelle Copper Stainless
  6. Ultra Clad

Chef Clad  – dishwasher safe brushed aluminum exterior, aluminum clad and polished stainless steel interior. The aluminum base is encapsulated with magnetic stainless steel for induction ready cooking.  Oven safe to 500 degrees.

Ultra Clad – Dishwasher safe fully clad aluminum interior with stainless steel inside and out. Attractive black nonstick band on the outside. Induction ready and oven safe to 400 degrees.

Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel – Stainless steel inside and out. Fully encapsulated base has aluminum and copper. Dishwasher safe.

Calphalon

Twelve Primary Product Lines:

  1. AccuCore Stainless Steel – NEW!
  2. Commercial Hard Anodized – NEW!
  3. Contemporary Nonstick
  4. Contemporary Nonstick Bronze – NEW!
  5. Contemporary Stainless Steel
  6. Simply Easy System Nonstick – NEW!
  7. Simply Enamel
  8. Simply Enamel Cast Iron
  9. Simply Nonstick
  10. Simply Stainless Steel
  11. Tri-ply Stainless Steel
  12. Unison Nonstick

Calphalon, owned by Newell Rubbermaid, is trying to look like Anolon, owned by World Kitchens. Their website colors and addition of bronze cookware is eerily similar. They used to have a lot of product lines, cut back on them, and now once again have many lines to offer. The problem with such variety leaves one wondering if they can really be so good with so many?

Circulon

Nine Current Product Lines:

  1. Classic
  2. Contempo
  3. Contempo Red
  4. Contempo Stainless Steel
  5. Elite
  6. Elite Platinum
  7. Infinite
  8. Symmetry
  9. Symmetry Chocolate

Symmetry is a new dishwasher safe line. It is tulip shaped like the Anolon Nouvelle. Glass lids. DuPont Autograph 3 layer nonstick surfaces inside and out with the TOTAL food release system inside. Impact bonded stainless steel base makes it suitable on all cooking surfaces.  Hard anodized aluminum core.

Contempo Red is a new dishwasher safe product line featuring pour spouts and a modern look.  DuPont Autograph 3 layer nonstick surfaces inside and out.  Red exterior and large silicone handles.  Like Anolon, Circulon is part of the Meyer Manufacturing family, having many features shared between brands.

Contempo Stainless Steel is exactly like the Contempo and Contempo Red but with a shiny stainless steel exterior.

CorningWare

CorningWare has dramatically reduced their product lines to just 3:

  1. Etch
  2. Simply Lite
  3. French White

Etch is stoneware with artisan details. One year warranty.

French White is also stoneware in a basic fluted white color and timeless design. One year warranty.

Simply Lite is a glass material half the weight of traditional ceramic bakeware. Three year warranty.

Cuisinart

Cuisinart has 13 product lines:

  1. Chef Classic Stainless Steel Color
  2. French Classic Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
  3. MultiClad Unlimited Professional Clad
  4. MultiClad Pro
  5. Dishwasher Safe Anodized Aluminum
  6. GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
  7. GreenGourmet Hard Anodized Aluminum
  8. Chef Classic Stainless Steel
  9. Chef Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Aluminum
  10. Chef Classic Nonstick Stainless Steel
  11. Contour Stainless Steel
  12. Contour Hard Anodized Aluminum
  13. Advantage Nonstick
  14. Chef Classic Enameled Cast Iron

While many cookware manufacturers have been decreasing their active product lines, Cuisinart has been expanding.

Here’s a look at the newer lines:

French Stainless Steel – made in France and fully clad tri-ply construction of a pure aluminum core and stainless steel outsides.  (Fully clad means the aluminum core is not just on the bottom, but fully clad up the side walls.)

Contour – Very similar to the Chef Classic line, except a curvier shape, and glass lids vs stainless steel lids. Both are budget oriented with clad only on the bottom.

Advantage Nonstick is very budget oriented designed to be starter cookware sets. It has many advanced features, but priced this inexpensively, they skimped somewhere. Reviews are very mixed. May be fine as a starter set, but don’t think it can handle aggressive cooking.

Cast Iron – With Lodge, Staub, and Le Creuset out there, I question why Cuisinart would offer a cast iron product. However, reviewers love the product!  They say it is dishwasher safe, and while it may be, I’d be careful washing this in the dishwasher. Should the porcelain ever get chipped or cracked, dishwasher use will accelerate the problem.

Demeyere

Demeyere is a very high-end Belgian cookware line. One new product line has been added, the Industry. It has an American style with European know-how. Availability is very limited for all Demeyere products. Since being bought out by Zwilling, of Henckel fame, I hope the availability of Demeyere cookware will improve.

Emerilware

Emeril now has 6 product lines:

  1. Pro-Clad
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Hard Anodized Aluminum
  4. Hard Enamel Aluminum
  5. Enamel Cast Iron
  6. Pre Seasoned Cast Iron

Emerilware is still supported by All-Clad. While All-Clad is made in America, Emerilware is made in China to offer a price advantage. Emerilware also offers some design features he had built in, not found anywhere else.

I still like the Pro-Clad, Stainless Steel, and Hard Anodized Aluminum product lines.

Emile Henry

Emile Henry is an innovative French manufacturer of cookware, bakeware, and kitchen items. Like CorningWare used to be, Emile Henry designed the Flame Top cookware product line that is a clay material suitable for both stove top and inside the stove use.

Emile Henry quality is extraordinary. They make:

  1. Natural Chic Colors
  2. Urban Colors
  3. Classic Colors
  4. Flame Ceramic Cookware
  5. Flame Barbeque Cookware

The items come in these types of cookware:

  1. Braisers
  2. Dutch Ovens
  3. Baking Stones
  4. Grilling Cookware
  5. Pizza Stones
  6. Risotto Pots
  7. Roasters
  8. Tagines
  9. Woks

Considered healthy cookware, Emile Henry products make great gifts for all levels of cooks.

Farberware

Farberware is also part of the Meyer family, along with Anolon, Circulon, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Silverstone, and KitcheAid. Farberware has 10 active product lines, all priced very inexpensively:

  1. Affiniti Porcelain
  2. Classic Aluminum
  3. Classic Stainless Steel
  4. Millennium Aluminum
  5. Millennium Stainless Steel
  6. Porcelain
  7. Premium Nonstick
  8. Superior
  9. High Performance Nonstick
  10. Dishwasher Safe Nonstick

One of the distinctive features of Farberware is that most of their products, except for the Millennium Stainless Steel, are only oven safe to 350 degrees.

Most Farberware Cookware sets are street priced under $100.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid, part of the Meyer family, is well known for their mixers and food processors. In terms of cookware, KitchenAid offers 6 product lines:

  1. Hard Anodized Aluminum Nonstick
  2. Porcelain Nonstick
  3. Gourmet Distinctions
  4. Gourmet Stainless Steel
  5. Gourmet Porcelain
  6. Gourmet Hard Anodized

All of their product lines were recently revamped. Sometimes it is not easy to find KitchenAid cookware, and their website doesn’t even link to them anymore. One has to really search to find them.

Prices for KitchenAid sets run up into the $200’s.

Le Creuset

Known as one of the best makers of enameled cast iron cookware, Le Creuset has 4 product lines:

  1. Enameled Cast Iron
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Enamel on Steel
  4. Stoneware

They also offer dishwasher safe nonstick skillets in hard anodized aluminum and stainless steel that are hot forged, assured to never chip or flake.  Reviewers LOVE this line of cookware claiming it is the best nonstick cookware available. A newer product line is the Heritage Cookware Collection which brings back some earlier designs with current manufacturing processes.

Lodge

Lodge is largely an American cast iron cookware manufacturer. While they make the preseasoned products in America, the enameled cookware is made overseas. Lodge has 4 product lines:

  1. Seasoned Cast Iron
  2. Enamel Cast Iron
  3. Seasoned Steel
  4. Stainless Steel

Known for their lower priced pre-seasoned cast iron and enameled cast iron cookware, Lodge has expanded with serving wares to help the home cook offer the same sizzle as restaurants.

Very new is their seasoned steel, whether at home or on the campsite, and the Elements set of stainless steel and cast iron.

I have several pieces from Lodge and they are made very well and perform well.

Lodge is going through an identity crisis. They keep re-categorizing their product lines, grouping and regrouping products in different named categories. I wish they would stop.

Their enamel cookware is made in China under strict supervision, and produces products very near Le Creuset and Staub quality, but priced significantly less.

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray cookware is part of the Meyer family. She has 3 current product lines:

  1. Hard Anodized Aluminum
  2. Porcelain Enamel
  3. Stainless Steel

Now in their 2nd generation of products, the stainless steel and hard anodized aluminum cookware offers updated features and performance.

The porcelain enamel line is NOT recommended for glass/ceramic stovetops and is not dishwasher safe.

Rachael Ray cookware is famous for the color schemes and cook-friendly shapes.

The hard anodized aluminum cookware is dishwasher safe, even those with nonstick interiors.

Scanpan

Scanpan is made in Denmark and famous for their PFOA-free GreenTek surface. Considered healthy, the interior surface is not a coating, but rather integrated into the cookware itself. All products are dishwasher safe. Scanpan has expanded recently with 8 product lines:

  1. Classic
  2. CSX
  3. CTX
  4. Fusion 5
  5. Impact
  6. IQ
  7. Professional
  8. Maitre D’

The CTX has a stainless steel exterior and modern look while the Classic and Professional have pressure cast aluminum exteriors. The professional and CTX lines have stainless steel handles where the classic has phenolic resin.

With very flat surfaces Scanpan is great for flat top stoves. The CTX line is induction ready.

I’ve used a Scanpan Classic frypan for 5 years now and washed it in the dishweasher. It has maintained a pretty good nonstick surface, even when used with medium high heat. It shows no sign of peeling or flaking. 

The Impact and IQ lines are truly unique with the IQ line having a silicone edge and a steam valve.

Staub

Staub is a French cast iron cookware maker known for innovation and excellent design.  Like Le Creuset the colors are beautiful. Staub is well known for their innovative technology that helps the cooking process. Staub makes a wide range of products including:

  1. Cocottes (Dutch Ovens)
  2. Grill Pans and Fry Pans
  3. Mini Cocottes
  4. Presentation Cast Iron Dishes
  5. Fondue Pots
  6. Saute Pans

New for Staub are more bright and vivid colors they call Vitamins, pure white colored items, teapots, and the saute pans.

 

How to Choose a Kitchen Cookware Set

A kitchen cookware set often costs less than individual pieces and adds uniformity to a kitchen. Choosing the “right” kitchen cookware set is easy once you answer a few basic questions. When it comes down to it, the cookware material and pot/pan sizes are still the core components whether you are buying individual pieces or a cookware set.

Questions on Choosing a Kitchen Cookware Set

Which Kitchen Cookware Material is Best for Me?

Your Cookware Helper and this site put an emphasis on cookware materials. After all, the right cookware material will provide the right results when cooking and during clean up. There is no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on what suits your cooking time and style. In my article “Matching Cookware Materials to the Cook,” I define the 4 different types of cooks, and which materials are best for each. Making a mistake here can be costly in both cooking results, and the longevity of the kitchen cookware set chosen.

What Sizes of Kitchen Cookware do I Require?

Anolon Nouvelle Cookware SetThe June 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated has a good article on choosing the right kitchen cookware set. They put a focus on the sizes of cookware offered in various cookware sets. They find that many cookware sets offered by the manufacturers have individual pieces, like the fry pans, sauté pans, and sauce pans, that are simply too small. When it comes to kitchen cookware sets, size matters! If you are a one or two person household, most of the sets offered today will be fine since they tend to offer 1 to 3 quart sauce and sauté pans, and 8” to 10” skillets. If you are looking for a cookware set for a larger family, your choices become more difficult and prepackaged sets will not suffice.

How Many Pieces do I Need in a Kitchen Cookware Set?

Be aware that when it comes to the number of pieces in a cookware set, the lids count as a piece! So, a sauce pan and lid counts as 2 pieces, not 1. One would think a sauté pan would count as 1 piece with the lid. But it doesn’t. A 10 piece kitchen cookware set with a fry pan or 2, may include a couple sauce pans, sauté pan, and a stock pot. To answer how many pieces you need, you’ll need to consider how many you are cooking for, and how do you cook? If you tend to cook a lot at the same time, you will need more pieces. The standard pieces that come in a cookware set are the skillet, sauce pan, saute pan, and stock pot. These will come in varied sizes with or without lids.

Should I Buy Individual Cookware Pieces or a Kitchen Cookware Set?

Le Creuset Cast Iron SkilletThe best answer I can give is: It depends. But this one you need to answer for yourself. If you have determined the best cookware material for you, the best brand and product line for you, and find a kitchen cookware set with cookware pieces in the sizes you require, then a set will offer the best price and offer uniformity in your kitchen. On the other hand, if you like different cookware materials and the sizes you require are not offered in cookware sets, then you don’t have much choice other than purchasing individual cookware pieces. It would be a mistake to buy a cookware set with the wrong individual piece sizes for your cooking needs simply because it would be convenient or to save a few bucks.

Final Thoughts…

Many cookware marketers like to pitch cookware sets. There is more money to be made in cookware sets. I would love to refer you to Amazon.com, my favorite online store, to buy a cookware set. But I am in this for the long haul, and want you to make the right decision. You need to honestly answer the 4 questions above. Once you do, then you’ll know if a cookware set is best for you.

If you have decided to buy a cookware set, then you probably want to see which cookware sets I have awarded as best in terms of Premium Quality, and Value. Click here for the award winners: Award Winning Cookware Sets.

 

Can the Right Cookware Make You a Better Cook?

We need cookware to cook our food. Your Cookware Helper says the right cookware can actually help you cook better! Here are 4 reasons why cookware matters. Cookware plays an important role in the art and science of cooking.

How Cookware Can Make Us a Better Cook

There are 4 primary reasons why the right cookware can help us to cook better.

  1. The right cookware will heat evenly. 

    All-Clad Stainless Steel D5 Cookware SetOne of the most important attributes of quality cookware is that it heats evenly. Consider all the cookware that is clad with copper and/or aluminum, for the sole purpose of helping the cookware provide even heating. When you use the properly sized cookware for the stove heating element, you expect the pan to provide an even amount of heat throughout the cooking surface. If it does not, the food will need more attention for flipping or stirring, cause food to stick, and possibly even provide food that is not cooked thoroughly.

  2. The right cookware is appropriate for the job. 

    Here is where a little experience goes a long way. Obviously one will use a skillet to fry eggs or chicken, a sauce pan to boil water or heat liquids, and a sauté pan to cook up a bunch of veggies or meats. The appropriately sized cookware for the job is important. When you have multiple choices of cookware to use, choosing the right one can make the cooking process easier, or add a really nice touch to the meal.

    Consider these real life cooking stories. I have an All-Clad stainless steel sauce pan that is clad with aluminum all the way up the sides. I recently used it when I was cooking grits with mushrooms as a side dish for swordfish steaks. During the cooking process, the heat was set to low, and the grits were slowly bubbling in the All-Clad sauce pan. The aluminum up the sides allows the pan to provide an even heat that wraps around the food, not just on the bottom. It was the appropriate cookware for this thicker side dish. Had I used a simpler Farberware sauce pan with aluminum clad just on the bottom, I would have to stir more frequently, and possibly risk having it burn on the bottom. For thinner liquid based dishes, the Farberware would be suitable.

    Staub Grill Pan WideHaving sear marks on certain foods adds that restaurant quality touch to dishes. When making an Orange Chicken dish recently, I slowly baked the chicken in the oven. However, before serving it, I used my Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan to put sear marks on the chicken before I placed it on the serving dish, where I then drizzled the orange sauce over the top. The presentation was a success.

    Here is another tip to help with a restaurant quality presentation. Consider using Staub Cast Iron Roasting Dishes, preheated in the oven, and place your chicken, steak, or vegetables on the Staub Roasting Dishes to give that sizzling effect, and final cooking, as you bring your dish to the table.

  3. The right cookware is comfortable to use. 

    Comfort is an important variable when selecting cookware. Is the cookware too light or too heavy? Are the handles properly sized for your hands? If it is a heavy piece, does it have a helper handle to allow both hands to pick it up? As a tennis player, I know that a grip that is too small can cause elbow strain. Cookware with handles that are too small can also cause arm strain. Do the handles heat up too quickly? Many pieces today like the KitchenAid Brushed Stainless Steel cookware have handles with silicone inserts for soft, cool handling. Determine what makes cookware comfortable for you. With comfortable cookware, you will use it more, and enjoy handling it. If it is not comfortable, you may not handle it as necessary to get the proper results.

  4. The right cookware gives you confidence in our cooking abilities.

    Consider the folks you find to be good cooks. Do you think they are confident in their abilities? Such confidence starts with the cookware. If you use cookware that heats evenly, the appropriate cookware for the job, and comfortable to use, don’t you think that would add to your own confidence? Of course it would. Confident cooks are not worried about the outcome. They try new things. They are creative. Their cookware is something they don’t have to be concerned with. They know it will perform satisfactorily. It is the right tool for the job just a a plumber or carpenter uses the right tool.

Cookware comes in all shapes and sizes. Using the “right” pieces will help you in your cooking abilities, and build your confidence. Anyone can be a good cook. Cookware is an important part of the cooking process. 

If you want help learning how to cook, I recommend my very own Home Cooking Academy. It offers structured online cooking classes that teach busy home cooks how to consistently make attractive, aromatic, and delicious meals.

Happy cooking!

 

Learn How to Avoid Food Sticking to Stainless Steel Cookware

Food sticking to stainless steel cookware is a real nuisance. Learn these tips on how to avoid the sticking and love your stainless steel cookware. Stainless Steel Cookware is healthy, safe, hygienic, and attractive. Many cooks have difficulty with stainless steel cookware because of food sticking to the cookware surface. Cooking in stainless steel cookware does not have to be difficult. In this article, I will cover the major reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware, and how to avoid it.

Why Food Sticks to Cookware

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Cookware SetIn my article “Why Food Stick to Cookware,” I covered the 4 major culprits. Here, I will discuss the primary reason why food sticks to stainless steel cookware. The answer is: heat. Too much of it.

Stainless steel by itself is not a good conductor of heat. An all stainless steel fry pan will have hotspots where some parts of the pan will get hotter than other parts, causing uneven heating, and making it much more difficult for the cook. The cook has to toss, turn, flip, and move the food often to allow a more even heating. The constant attention can often lead to undesirable results.

Consequently, quality cookware manufacturers (see below) layer, or clad, their stainless steel cookware with aluminum and/or copper to provide a superior and even heat distribution throughout the cooking surface. A result of such aluminum and/or copper cladding is that the pan or skillet heats up and retains heat quicker and longer.

When stainless steel cookware is clad with aluminum and/or copper, the pan or skillet will get hotter at any given heat setting compared to cookware not clad with aluminum and/or copper.

Understand that even when you learn how to avoid food sticking to stainless steel cookware, it is NOT nonstick. Some foods will almost always stick to stainless steel cookware. Make a cheese omelette and cleanup will be difficult. Stainless Steel cookware is excellent when you want a fond for sauces, but not great for some delicate foods. In these cases, a good nonstick skillet will come in very handy.

How to Avoid Food Sticking

The use of proper heat settings is crucial. Here is how I use my stainless steel cookware effectively:

1. Set your stove burner on medium – 50%. Place the pan or skillet on the burner and preheat at this level for about 3-5 minutes. Pre-heating is essential! Pre-heating actually helps the stainless steel close the surface pores giving the food less area to stick. 

2. Add your butter, oil, or liquid to the pan or skillet. Let the liquid heat for 3-5 minutes until it is just about ready to smoke.

3. Reduce the heat setting to medium low – 30%.

4. Add your food.

5. Certain foods may start to sear, even at this heat level. Don’t worry as the food will release from the pan or skillet.

6. Finish cooking at this heat level.

7. After you enjoy your meal, clean the pan or skillet thoroughly, removing all oils or grease. Residual oil or grease will cause sticking also.

Enjoying Your Stainless Steel Cookware

When using the proper heat settings, food sticking to stainless steel cookware will not be a problem. Naturally, there are times when you do want food to stick for browning or searing. The proper heat setting gives you control over when food is to stick, or not stick.

Read more about stainless steel cookware.

Some quality manufacturers to check out include: All-CladCalphalonCuisinart, and Demeyere.