Le Crueset cookware

Like most people I have a variety of pots, pans and skillets in my cupboards.  I have everything from glass to non-stick teflon going on in there.  After getting sick and figuring out what I can and can't have we started rethinking our cookware as well.  After doing some research, I felt educated...and appalled.  Here is what I found out!

We all know non-stick cookware is convenient and easy to clean, but it also has some health concerns.  PFOA, a component in teflon coating on those pans, is a know carcinogen and mutagenic.  At least 98% of the population of the US will find PFOA in its bloodstream, and even in the cord blood of newborns.  DuPont, the creator of the substance has been fined heavily in the past for covering up just how dangerous it is.  Oh, and if you have feathered friends in your home, non-stick pans can kill them.  No, I'm not kidding.
If you are still using non-stick pans here are a few tips to use them safely:

  • Don't overheat them, dry heat them or heat them over 400 degrees.
  • If they are in any way scratched or the coating is coming off, throw them away.
  • Don't heat an empty pan - it can take less than 2 minutes to over heat a non-stick pan.
  • Don't sear or broil meat in non-stick pans.  Typically you need to heat the pan past what is safe to cook the meat that way.

Aluminum Cookware is for many people a cost effective way to cook their food.  Unfortunately aluminum can leach into your food.  Cooking veggies in aluminum cookware produces hydroxide poison which can neutralize digestive acids and cause gastro intestinal troubles.  To give you an idea of how bad this stuff is, the sale of aluminum cookware is prohibited in Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Hungary and Brazil.
Anodized Aluminum seals in the aluminum, and gives it a non-porous non-reactive surface, until the teflon is put on it.  The acidity of your food will break down the surface on these, so be careful to make your sauces in another pot.

Stainless Steel, unless it is surgical grade can be made from pretty much anything, including scrap metal.  The only other thing you have to worry about with these is nickel, in the better pans.  But you have to be able to afford the high end ones to avoid the inferior metals and other leaching concerns.  When you get into that much money, there are better options.

Cast Iron is another great one.  They require some extra maintenance but can be a fairly inexpensive albeit heavy addition to the cupboard.  The drawbacks however, are that seasoned pans are 99.9% of the time seasoned with soy oils.  Be aware of that before you buy them and look for non-seasoned if you want cast iron and season them yourself.

Back in the 80's, glass pots and pans were all the rage.  You can still find them, Corning makes the Visions line here in the US.  No leaching into your food, but a bit on the sticky side.  Great for simply boiling water and making pasta though.  Special bonus with these, they are made by the same group that makes beakers so you feel a little like a mad scientist while doing up dinner!

Ceramic is a newer version of the non-stick pan.  There are a few on the market now in the US, and most aren't worth buying.  The ceramic is inferior and develops pits in the ceramic rather quickly.  Ecoluxe out of Italy is one that's worth buying, but you have to go to Italy or stumble on their pans in Marshalls like I did.  If you find some, buy them.  They're completely worth it.

Last but certainly not least, there are the enameled cast iron variety.  You get all the greatness of the cast iron along with the no leach of the glass.  If you're going to go this route, keep in mind these types of pans are handed down through generations.  They will last you a lifetime and probably your grandkids too, but you pay for that quality.  Le Creuset and Staub are two lines that are worth the money.  Martha is making her own these days, but the reviews were awful on the enamel pitting, cracking and coming off.

For any of you with allergies or intolerances, if you are buying anything second hand and it's porous material, assume it's contaminated and don't buy it.  Save yourself some agony later.

I'm slowly switching over to Le Creuset and glass.  What are you cooking on?

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