As we near the end of 2012, I want to give an update on healthy cookware and safe cookware. Which cookware brands offer healthy cookware? Are there new studies about nonstick cookware or hard anodized cookware? I'll answer these questions and more in this update.
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. More information can be found in my original article: Which Cookware is Safe and Healthy? 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.
Second, let me confirm there are no changes in the safety of anodized aluminum. All manufacturers still advertise the material as safe. More information on the aluminum issue can be found in my original article: Is Anodized Aluminum Cookware Safe? The potential danger comes from scratches in the surface that can lead to aluminum leaching into your food.
The bottom line is simple: most anodized aluminum cookware today is now coated with a teflon-like nonstick surface. It is great cookware if you are not afraid of the health concerns.
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 in your food. There are many selections that are considered healthy cookware.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless 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.
Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware comes in 2 varieties: pre-seasoned 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.
Ceramic Cookware and Clay Cookware
Cookware 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.
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. I have a couple recommendations.
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.
Another one I like that has survived my long-term testing is the Cuisinart GreenGourmet seen at the bottom of that link.
A Complete 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.
written by Mark, March 18, 2013
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 19:34