Saturday, October 10, 2009

Article: Green Non-Stick Cookware?

As America's new-found desire to purchase "green" products sweeps through marketing departments everywhere, "green" nonstick cookware has begun showing its salesroom prowess. In some cases, manufacturers could hardly shove aside their standard messaging (insisting that traditional nonstick cookware was perfectly safe) fast enough to sell you their new fleet of non-cancerous cookware.

Cook's Illustrated magazine recently reviewed this new crop of feel-good consumer products in an article entitled Green Skillets. In typical Cook's style, they ran through the wringer 8 supposedly eco-friendly nonstick skillets:
  • Classicor Go Green Nonstick 11.5" Skillet
  • Cuisinart GreenGourmet 12" Skillet with Helper Handle
  • Demeyere-Resto 12.6" Ecoglide Frying Pan without Lid
  • Earth Pan 12" Hard Anodized Skillet
  • Greenpan Frypan 12.5"
  • Scanpan Professional 12.25" Fry Pan
  • Starfrit Alternative Eco Pan 11" Fry Pan
  • Xtrema 10" Open Skillet
As Cook's notes, ungreen (or tradtional) nonstick skillet coatings typically use two chemicals that have been indicated as likely carcinogens in studies: PFOA and PTFE. Today's "green" nonstick skillets either remove these chemicals entirely in favor of ceramic or silicone coatings, or just remove PFOA while keeping PTFE on the menu.

In addition to reducing and (possibly eliminating) the chances that you and your family will be poisoned to death by using their products, these manufacturers claim to have prolonged skillet life and improved pan slipperiness to boot.

When put to the test, however, "Not a single one of these 'green' pans was without flaws," according to Cook's.

In tests that included cooking scrambled eggs, fritattas, fish, and steak, the "green" nonstick skillets' performance was generally worse than traditional nonstick skillets (the kind that kill ya dead). Problems included sticking, uneven heating, and poor heat retention once food was added.

The conclusion drawn by the folks at Cook's Illustrated is this: "Until 'green' skillet technology improves, we're sticking with traditional nonstick or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan."

My conclusion? While a cast iron skillet is definitely some of the heaviest cookware you'll find, adding carcinogens to your family's food is no lightweight either. And just think, maybe you can quit the gym if you use cast iron often enough...


  1. Good job Derek. I agree with you and have adopted the same approach where "non-stick cookware" is concerned.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Doyle. Happy cast iron cooking!


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