This Article is About
aluminum cookware
toxic gases
pots and pans
risking your health
store brands
cast iron
scratches
Choosing Cookware
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Choosing Cookware

Most people know that the quality of their food can make a difference in their health. But how many know that the quality of cookware is also important and can impact their health? It definitely can make a difference and I'm going to briefly explain why.

The main reason has to do with the composition of materials. Pots and Pans come in six categories: 1) Non-stick, 2) Aluminum, 3) Cast Iron , 4) Glass, 5) Stainless Steel and 6) Enamel-Coated. And there are variations in most of these categories.

Non-stick cookware is extremely popular and widely available. You can find high-end brands at department stores and on the Internet all the way down to dollar-store brands. But no matter what brand you pay for, you are risking your health using chemically-coated cookware. It does break down in high heat and can release toxic gases and particles into your food and into your environment. Think the heat isn't that high in every day cooking? Not so. Your cookware can easily get above 400 degrees on the surface in less than five minutes. Non-stick cookware is one of those "modern conveniences" that is in the long run not-so-wonderful.

Aluminum cookware is also very popular because it is very light-weight and it heats up quickly. It can also be inexpensive. Since aluminum is a soft metal that dents and scratches easily, aluminum cookware can be problematic. Aluminum does not belong in your body. It is not some kind of "trace mineral" that you should have--it is toxic. You may find cookware labeled "anodized aluminum." That's a little better because that means the aluminum has been treated to make it harder, less porous and more scratch resistant. But it doesn't 100% resolve the problem of aluminum getting into your food. If you have aluminum cookware or choose to buy it, my best advice is to keep it protected and don't let it get scratched or dented.

Cast Iron cookware is said to be beneficial because the iron can leech into your food. I'm not one who would promote getting your iron in that form, but at least it is probably harmless. I use cast iron frying pans and I have recently gotten a cast iron stove-top grill which I love. All of these are very well seasoned and most cast iron cookware comes with instructions on how to season them. One brand, Lodge, has a line of cast iron that is already seasoned. My son used cast iron for camping throughout his scout career and became the chosen one for preparing dinner for his troop. His specialty was peach cobbler made in a cast iron dutch oven. For some, a downfall to cast iron might be the fact that it is extremely heavy. Also it requires special care and attention so it doesn't sit in water or remain wet because, after all, it is iron and can rust.

Next is glass and I really don't think many manufacturers are making glass pots and pans--though I have seen some. Mainly we know glass cookware when we're talking about baking pans. I like them and I use them.

Now we come to stainless steel and there is a seemingly infinite variety of these and many decent brands to choose from. Growing up my mother had the old Revere Ware with the copper bottom. The first thing you should know is that stainless steel cookware has "ingredients." That's right! Just like food (sort of)! It is a combination of metals and/or sometimes a layered conglomerate of metals. For instance the stainless steel may be on the outside and the inside cooking surface with layers of aluminum and metal alloys in between. I highly recommend good stainless steel cookware and tend to choose the layered variety. My favorite brand is All Clad. That is a high-end brand but the quality is excellent. Regardless of what stainless steel cookware you invest in, you will still have to check the metal content and you definitely have to take good care of the pots and pans so they too do not get scratched and dented exposing other metals to your food.

And finally we have enamel-coated cookware which some say is the safest and best thing to cook with. The popular brands are enamel-coated cast iron which make them very sturdy but also heavy. Again you would have to take care to protect the enamel by following the instructions and making sure you use the right utensils so it doesn't get scratched. I would choose this cookware for preparing dishes with longer cooking times. Who wouldn't love a hearty stew cooked in a beautiful enamel-coated dutch oven? These types can also, by the way, go from stove top to table because they make beautiful serving dishes as well.

The best kind of cookware is cookware that suits your purposes and that you'll be able to enjoy using without compromising your health and the well-being of your family. Be prepared, no matter what you buy, to care for it, clean it and handle your cookware well because all cookware requires proper care and maintenance.

Here's to you and your future culinary creations!


Street Talk

We use glass and cast iron as much as possible here. Thanks for the tips!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

You're welcome Shawn! Thanks for commenting.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Barbara9  

excellent, well written article

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thank you so much Barbara!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thanks Joan!

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Joan S  

Patty, You speak my language in this article. I grew up with Revere Ware too. As a matter of fact, I have Revere pots from my childhood. And I love polishing the copper bottoms. The pots look new. Also enjoy cooking in All Clad. Totally agree with you about non-stick coatings and rarely, if ever use them. If there's a scratch, I throw them out. Your advice is spot on.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
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