If you're interested in healthy cooking, there's one area that you simply cannot neglect and that is your cookware.
You may choose all the best ingredients and learn the smartest cooking methods, but if your cookware is leaching poisons and carcinogens into your food and even into the air in your home, your efforts won’t do you much good.
They are significantly different in terms of performance, durability and aesthetic appeal.
In this guide, we will describe, compare and contrast ceramic cookware and stainless steel cookware. We will also provide guidance and suggestions to help you make the right choice for your kitchen.
You may have heard that in the early days of coal mining, miners carried a canary in a cage into the mines. If the canary suddenly died, the miners knew to vacate the mine immediately to escape toxic fumes.
It has long been known that you should not use Teflon coated cookware in homes where pet birds are present because the fumes released during cooking can kill birds. This is quite literally a “canary in a coal mine” situation!
As if being lethal to birds were not enough reason not to use Teflon, we are learning more and more every day about the dangers to humans that are posed by the chemicals used to create Teflon coated cookware (i.e. PTFE and PFOA).
These chemicals have been identified as likely carcinogens, and the Environmental Protection Agency highly recommends against using cookware that has been treated with these chemicals.
The Environmental Working Group has also recommended against use of Teflon coated pots and pans. They say that nearly 100 percent of American adults and all newborns have significant levels of PFOA in their bloodstreams.
Studies conducted with animals found that PFOA can cause birth defects, cancer and a wide variety of other health problems.
Like plastic, PFOA never goes away. Every molecule of it that has ever been produced is still present in the air and in the water. The PFOA you have in your body cannot be removed, but you can prevent increasing its levels by ceasing to use Teflon coated cookware.
Ceramic Cookware : Stylish & Efficient
Ceramic cookware is lightweight and easy to use. It is truly nonstick, is quite durable and is available in a variety of attractive colors . The cooking surface is coated with a very tough fired clay, ceramic material that is very strong but is not indestructible.
When you cook with ceramic cookware, no chemicals or trace metals can leach from the metal of the pan. The ceramic surface does not retain bacteria or flavors from previously cooked foods.
This versatile cookware can be used on an electric stovetop, gas range, under the broiler, in the oven and on your barbecue grill because it can withstand very high temperatures without damage.
Is Ceramic Cookware Safe?
Ceramic cookware is safe for all types of cooking because it can withstand temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
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It is also dishwasher safe, and hand washing is also very easy because the surface is non-porous and very slick.
While it is quite difficult to chip ceramic cookware, it can be done.
Once it is chipped, ceramic cookware is unusable because it no longer conducts heat evenly. When storing ceramic cookware, be sure to place some kind of padding between each pot/pan. This will help prevent chipping. The inserts that come in the box with your set are perfect for this use.
Also, remember that when cooking with ceramic, you should take care because it heats up very quickly and cooks very quickly. Start out by using low heat settings until you get used to cooking with this type of cookware.
Stainless Steel Cookware: Timeless Classic
Stainless steel cookware never goes out of style. A good set of high grade, tri–ply construction stainless steel cookware can last a lifetime and more with proper care. In fact a very good set can be handed down for many generations of use.
For “heirloom quality” stainless steel, look for pots and pans that have a stainless steel bottom with an aluminum or copper core for the best durability and heat conduction.
Pots and pans should feel substantial and provide a comfortable heft when you lift them. If they feel very lightweight, they are probably just stainless steel with no aluminum or copper in the bottom. This type of cookware is cheap and does not conduct heat well.
Is Stainless Steel Safe?
Stainless steel is a very stable metal that does not leech negative elements into your food or give off any fumes when you cook. For this reason, you won’t have to worry about flavor transfer or reactions with acidic foods (as you would with aluminum cookware).
Stainless steel cookware is safe for all applications, and it is also dishwasher safe.
When you cook with a good set of stainless steel cookware, you can expect foods to cook more quickly and heat more evenly with few, if any, hotspots.
You will need to use oil to prevent sticking, but if you use healthy oils that are stable at high temperatures (e.g. coconut oil or peanut oil) this should not be a cause of concern.
Don’t use olive oil for hot cooking because it becomes carcinogenic at high temperatures.
Stainless steel is an earth-friendly choice for many reasons. A good set of stainless steel cookware can be a lifetime investment. You can buy it once and buy it right!
It's easy to take care of and with proper cleaning it can be shined up as good as new, year after year. If your stainless steel cookware is subjected to rough handling or is the victim of a terrible accident, it can be fully recycled.
For all of these reasons, it is a very environmentally friendly choice.
Stainless Steel VS Ceramic Cookware Which Is Best?
It's really hard to say whether stainless steel or ceramic cookware is "best". Both types of cookware have very strong advantages and very few disadvantages.
You may very well wish to have a full set of one kind and a few pieces of the other kind, and there certainly no law that says you can't have two sets of cookware!
If you're only able to buy one set now, your choice may depend upon your experience as a cook. If you are inexperienced, ceramic cookware may be a little bit easier for you to use. If you are experienced, you might enjoy cooking with stainless steel.