Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Best NonStick Cookware


Best Cookware without Teflon

Nonstick cookware is generally assumed to mean Teflon or Tefal or some improved version thereof.  Did you know that Teflon had its origin in the World War II Manhattan project?   Over the years, the use of this type of nonstick cookware has posed serious health concerns, primarily because of PFOA (perfluorooctanic acid).  PFOA is extremely toxic to avian species, most notably pet birds.  PFOA persists in low levels in the environment.  It is found in the blood of the U.S. population as well.  The cookware industry has a mandate to eliminate PFOA in 2015.  (See Environmental Protection Agency PFOA homepage.)  Teflon-type cookware that is supposedly safer is already on the market. 
An alternative approach is to avoid Tefal- or Teflon-like products altogether.  At Kitchen Essentials, we believe that the “best nonstick cookware” can be either ceramic cookware or porcelain enamel cookware.

Ceramic Cookware Dangers

Ceramic cookware is produced in either an unglazed or glazed style.  Unglazed is porous and easily damaged.  Glazed ceramic cookware has a hard attractive finish that protects the product from wear and tear.  Glazing also makes ceramic cookware tolerant of high heat, a major deficiency of all Teflon-type nonstick cookware.  At one time, glazed ceramic cookware posed a health risk because of the presence of lead and cadmium in the finish.  However, the glazing process has since then been modified to reduce the concentration of these elements to levels well below that permitted by the Food and Drug Administration.  (See Cookware Manufacturers Association Guidelines Section 7.5.1.4a for more information.)  Consumers can safely use ceramic cookware, but should exercise caution when purchasing ceramic cookware produced in countries other than the United States. 

Visit Hard-Anodized Ceramic Cookware for more information.

 

Is Porcelain Enamel Cookware Safe?

Porcelain enamel cookware, sometimes known as enamelware, is similar to ceramic cookware in that modern manufacturing technology has made this product very safe to use.  Porcelain enamel has a very hard glass-like finish that tolerates high temperature and is essentially inert.  Levels of cadmium and lead are far below the tolerances established by the Food and Drug Administration.   Although we do not recommend it, some porcelain enamel cookware can be placed in a dishwasher.  Normal cooking utensils can sometimes be used (always check the manufacturer’s recommendations), but here again, we suggest using the same utensils that one would use for the best nonstick cookware 

Specific product recommendations can be found at Porcelain Enamel Cookware.

 

Best Nonstick Cookware

When discussing the best nonstick cookware, two additional products deserve to be mentioned:  All-Clad Cookware and Hard Anodized Cookware.  Both are available in the original as well as a nonstick style.  Because of the superior construction of the substrate (either clad or hard anodized metal), it is claimed that the nonstick surface is more durable.  Nonetheless, the chemical composition of the nonstick material is the same as for other traditional nonstick products.  For this reason, we would still favor either ceramic coated cookware or porcelain enamel cookware as the preferred nonstick cookware.  We do recommend the original style of clad or hard anodized cookware, but for a different reason.  That is, when used properly, these products clean up so easily that from a practical standpoint, they are almost nonstick.  Another advantage is that this cookware can be used when a fond is needed for a gravy or sauce.  Of course, when the gravy/sauce is created, the fond is removed so clean-up is simple.  Both of these products will be discussed in future blogs. 

UPDATE:  Cuisinart is promoting GreenGourmet cookware which combines the best features of hard-anodized and nonstick ceramic cookware.  Learn more at Hard-Anodized Ceramic Cookware.

What is your experience?  Do you have a preference?  What is the best nonstick cookware?  We invite you to share your opinions in the comments section below.

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