It was a sad day in my kitchen a few months back when I said goodbye to my non-stick coating fry pan and wok that I have been using for many years now.
Goodbye Non-Stick Coating
Alas the non-stick coating had deteriorated after 5 years of careful use and while I thought these pans were the bees knees and really searched for others to replace it, my reasoning behind wanting another took a turn for the better as the research behind non-stick cookware revealed it’s ugly truth. There is really no safe option when it comes to non-stick cookware. Teflon, aka PFOA and PTFE have been officially banned as of 2015 because of studies revealing the toxic effect on consumers health. Links to cancer, thyroid problems, infertility and ADHD in children are among some of the results found.
Many other alternatives to teflon have popped up out of the woodwork and have been given somewhat a tick of approval but I’m still skeptical. Primarily because if you make one slip up and overheat or use the wrong wash up tool it seems that your pan has lost its non-stick and its warranty!
The two that I came close to buying and still might in the near future are the cast iron pans or enamel coated pans. But even these have been said to release toxic chemicals. So I was left with stainless steel which apparently if treated badly can produce toxic chemicals from the nickel and chromium. So really there’s no choice but to cook your food in banana leaves on an outdoor fire and avoid all contact with any form of metal cookware….period.
Given our modern world with all it’s modern and somewhat inconvenient timetables and schedules the reality of cooking in a banana leaf over an outdoor fire isn’t going to happen at least not until I go camping at the end of the year and even then I think I’ll reneg on using banana leaves. In the meantime, while I need to cook on something I decided to return to my stainless steel pans and face the dilemma of how not to get my food stuck to the pan. It seemed to me that it came down to not the pan you cooked with but the method you cooked and cleaned up with. Regardless of what cookware you choose careful cooking is the key here. Thank goodness for coconut oil.
So here’s my tips:
1. Keep the temperature down
As per many studies raising the temperature of your pan too high seems to be the most repeated tip for preserving whatever cookware you have, non-stick or not, reducing toxic emissions but also preserving the nutritional quality of your food. Recommended to keep your pans heat to under 200 ° C.
2. Season your pan well
If you are using a cast iron pan, or enamel coated pan seasoning with a light coat of oil is essential before you cook anything. A light coat of coconut oil will protect the enamel as well as being a healthy oil in which to cook.
3. Making a non-stick pan, non-stick!
If you are using a stainless steel pan than using coconut oil as your coating will give you cooking success every time. I was truly converted after trying this a few times. Given how much I used my non-stick scanpan skillet and wok I was sure I was in for cooking and cleaning drudgery when I finally succumbed to going back to using my stainless steel pan. To my amazement I had no problems with food sticking and even less of a problem with cleaning up. Admittedly it takes a little more effort than the non-stick clean up but highly worth it and more peace of mind knowing that I’m not contaminating my family’s health with toxic chemicals, well not as much anyway! Given that I cook breakfast every morning for myself and whoever else is in the mood for a cooked breakfast means my pan gets a workout every single day.
4. Clean up with Coconut Oil
For cast iron or enamel coated pans, give the pan a quick wash with warm (not hot) water and a bit of soap and then dry and wipe over with a coat of coconut oil and paper towel. For my stainless steel pan if any food has caught slightly I simply wipe it over with a bit of coconut oil and wipe the bits off with a paper towel then wash with warm soapy water. Try very hard not to use steel wool or scrapers on your pans whatever they happen to made of. Voila!
What’s your preference? Non-stick pans or not? Leave me a comment or join me on my social network.