Breaking up with my Teflon cookware and what I chose

inflammation kitchen kitchenware product reviews Jul 12, 2017

If you've followed along at all on Facebook this year, you may have heard me mention some pain points I've had about my neck and around my eyes breaking out in "eczema".

It's a classic example of an overloaded immune system and I've been working diligently to un-layer my own stressors in life--whether food, pathogen, chemical/environment or life--to heal permanently instead of temporarily.

I embrace the experience even on days I've wanted to give up because trials and personal experience give me passion about being a better practitioner and relentless about finding the best methods and potential shortcuts to help others heal from long time aggravations with digestion, skin, joint or muscle pain and migraines, among other things.

Anyway, what does this have to do with cookware? I'll tell you.

I've basically done a ton of experimental testing this year looking at causes of my inflammation and test showed some excess chloroform.

Chloroform....chloroform....what was that?

One source could have been my Teflon cookware. It made sense because I'd be stupidly using some pans were very clearly starting to peel.

Teflon seems to break down no matter what you do. And despite my preconceived notions that stainless was a PITA to clean, I began my research.

I turned to the premier authority on all things food and equipment--America's Test Kitchen. ATK tests things exhaustively so you don't have to. They're a legit source for no-fail recipes but also have a massive library of equipment recs.

While working at Research & Development for a major food company in college, I spent as much time as possible shadowing the chef. I learned that he turned to an encyclopedia of ATK recipes as a starting point when the company had a new food product concept. Since then, I've done the same.

After watching videos of the testers whack pans against the concrete and cook sticky eggs in a variety of pans, I narrowed down my pan replacements to two major contenders:

  1. Carbon steel: a seasoned pan popular in France for turning out crepes but less popular in the U.S. See the video review (worth it!)
  2. High-quality stainless steel.

Watch the videos to find out why. (Yes, I think they're worth it).

Which one did I choose? Both.

After watching the egg slide out of that carbon steel pan (no small feat!), I picked that Matter Bourgeat carbon steel pan for $50 after comparing my existing pan lids to what size I wanted.

(I also got the handle cover and think it's a worthwhile purchase)

I picked up a 10" All Clad fry pan on T.J. Maxx online for about $50 (versus $100+) and have been in love since. 

It’s a little harder to find online at TJ’s because you can’t search by brand and can only see it after it’s in your cart. I didn’t have luck at the in-person stores either.

My opinion is that these are ACTUALLY lifetime pans. I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t convert sooner. I’m pretty rough on cookware and kitchen things.

Not long after my new pan purchases, I was sautéing kale side by side in the carbon steel and my pre-existing CERAMIC sauce pan (side note, ceramic is okay but still not really a lifetime product.)

The ceramic was pathetic in comparison. The carbon steel distributed heat so evenly, cooked faster (DID YOU JUST HEAR THAT POTENTIAL TIME SAVER?) and made me some crispier kale.

The ceramic pan took 2 or 3x as long and the cooked kale was wimpy and soggy compared to the carbon steel.

I’m a convert.

 


A month or two after use? I still love both pans, but my family mis-uses my carbon steel by washing off its protective oil coating with soap, so it needs to be re-seasoned.

I don't mind because it's such a heavy duty pan that has years of patina ahead but that may be a discouragement to some. I need to train my family that it’s moms pan, perhaps.

Seems that my family wants to cook more (read: and not wash the dishes) than what I have pans for. Since I’m now too impatient to wait on my slow ceramic fry pans, I've added a 3rd 10-12" 🙈 metal pan to the mix--a Calphalon stainless I picked up at T.J. Maxx for $17. It's new but so far I have zero complaints.

I'd already replaced most of my saucepans with Calphalon because they were more readily available at T.J.'s. You'll recall Calphalon is the runner-up to All Clad brand if you watched the ATK video. It didn’t survive the “beat against the cement” test but did okay otherwise. Time will tell for sure, but for now, they were a cost effective solution.

Stuck on foods? They come right off with a little elbow grease; in fact, I can't believe how easy they are to clean. Bar Keeper's Friend stainless cleaner or an abrasive scour pad will take care of any resistance food remnants.

Helpful? Let me know!

XO, Christa

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