Nonstick Cookware Making Cleanup Easier
The last thing you want to do after cooking an extravagant meal is stand over the sink scrubbing off all the food that stuck to the pans. Those leftover remnants of lasagna can be a lot tougher than they look.
Thankfully, there’s a way to make cleanup a breeze and, no, you don’t have to douse the pan with cooking spray: Nonstick cookware. These dishes let you fry, sauté, and bake your food with less mess and fat. So you’ll spend less time scrubbing and more time enjoying the activities you’d much rather be doing.
Ever wonder how this magical nonstick surface allows any meal to just slide right off the pan and onto the plate? Well, actually, it was an accident. Back in 1938, Ohio-born scientist Roy Plunkett was searching for a less toxic chemical to use as a new refrigerant and created a mixture meant to produce tetrafluoroethylene gas. He left it to sit overnight.
The next day, Plunkett found a white, waxy substance in place of the gas. This substance was polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE. A French engineer, Marc Gregoire, later found a way to bond the PTFE to aluminum, creating the first piece of nonstick cookware. Isn’t science wonderful?
Not Your Mother’s Nonstick Cookware
In the recent years, there have been concerns about the chemical make-up of nonstick cookware, specifically the presence of PFOA and PTFE. Manufacturers have responded by creating nonstick coatings and cookware that adhere to a more stringent set of guidelines. And the cookware is a far cry from the early nonstick cookware that our mothers used.
The coating used in ceramic nonstick cookware use a mineral-based coating. The inorganic nature of this type of nonstick coating make it outstandingly durable, environmentally-friendly, and safe for contact with food at higher temperatures. The traditional nonstick coatings were organic in nature and weren’t as durable, which led to them to crack, peel and become unstable under high temperature.
Hard-anodized cookware is made from electrochemically-hardened aluminum, and are best known for durability and long lifespan. Cookware made from hard-anodized aluminum resist to scratching, warping, and corrosion. Additionally, they are known for having even heat distribution, which make them highly reliable. The manufacturing process leaves the cookware non-porous, which makes it technically only stick resistant but most find the nonstick properties to be acceptable. Some manufacturers add an additional coating to make it completely nonstick.
Getting the Most from Your Nonstick Cookware
I love my nonstick cookware, but there are a few things you can do to get the very best performance out of your cookware:
- Read the directions: Some nonstick manufacturers recommend a light oiling before the first use of nonstick cookware. Before you put the pan on the stove, make sure you have followed the manufacturer’s recommendations to help ensure that your cookware performs at its best.
- Avoid high heat: High heat applied over a long period of time may cause the nonstick coating to crack. Stick with a lower heat to preserve the life of your pan. Plus, high heat doesn’t mean the food will cook faster or better. But it will typically mean the food is partly burnt and partly raw.
- Avoid using pans with chipped or peeling coatings: This seems like a no-brainer, but I remember some highly questionable pans from my childhood. If you coating begins to peel or is chipped, it is time to replace that pan.
- Use nonstick spray sparingly: Most nonstick cookware does not require additional spray to be nonstick. Plus over time the sprays will build up and create a pasty, stick residue that will negate the nonstick properties of the pan. There is good news, however! Your pan can be cleaned to return the nonstick finish, most of the time. A nonabrasive cleaning powder, like Bar Keeper’s Friend. I have personally seen it return some pretty gross pans to near-perfect condition.
Shopping for Nonstick Cookware
Heat conductivity: Nonstick cookware often has an aluminum base for the best heat conductivity. If you have an electric stove, a pan with a flat aluminum bottom will heat more evenly. If you use a gas stove, however, you may want to look for stainless steel pans with aluminum cores.
Oven-safe handles: Some recipes call for dishes to start on the stove and finish in the oven. Therefore, you should look for a handle that’s oven safe.
Durability: If you know you’re going to be tough on your cookware, look for a nonstick pan that will stand the test of time. Search for a brand that places heavy emphasis on durability.
Consider a set: If you know you’ll be using all the pieces on a regular basis, a set is a great investment. If you don’t, buy individual pieces. Otherwise, you’ll just have pans taking up unnecessary space in your cabinets.
Want to know more about nonstick cookware, visit our other nonstick cookware CHEFS Mix posts:
- Nonstick Cookware Making Cleanup Easier
- Caring for Your Nonstick Cookware
- Product Review: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Sol Thermolon Cookware Set
- Your Guide to Nonstick Bakeware
- Delicious Fried Food Taste–From the Oven!
Your turn: Which nonstick cookware do you find you get the most use out of? Share your thoughts with us!