Our mums and grandmas understood the importance of investing in good quality cast iron/stainless steel cookware. Long before non-stick finishes came on the market, our mother, grandmas and aunts were cooking successfully in super effecient and non-toxic cast iron/stainless steel pans.
Nowadays we seem to ignore the old and efficient ways and resort to cooking in non-stick cooking utensils ranging from pans, skillets, woks with additional non-stick accessories like, tongs and even non-stick baking wares.It is a matter of convenience, Right? It means there is a need for using less fat (oil/butter) for cooking and easy cleaning after usage because the coating used on the non-sticks prevent food from sticking to the surface during the cooking process.
We have to first understand what goes into making non-stick pans.
Non-stick pans are cooking pans made from or coated with materials designed to prevent food from sticking to their surface during the cooking process. Most non-stick pans are made using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — a key chemical found in Teflon, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)(e.g.DuPont’s Teflon) coating although newer materials are also used.
Health concerns have been raised over the possible negative effects of using PTFE coated cooking pans. When pans are overheated beyond approximately 349 °C (660 °F) the PTFE coating begins to dissociate, releasing byproducts which can cause polymer fume fever in humans and can be lethal to birds.
Most pans get too hot in our day-to-day cooking, releasing PFOA and other toxic substances. Then, as they age and wear the coating can flake off into our food. PFOA is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor that we know stays in the body and our environment forever. About ninety-five per cent of us have PFOA in our bloodstream, including newborn infants. It has also been detected in marine animals and animals eating fish.
Dupont, one of the eight major manufacturers of PFOA, plans to phase out the chemical by 2015.
What can we do?
Aside from choosing safer cookware, we can reduce the exposure by avoiding consumer products coated with non-stick chemicals. These include some types of dental floss, microwave popcorn bags, windshield cleaning solution and even pizza boxes. Also, watch for products that may appear safe but have non-stick inserts, like rice cookers.
Before you ditch your scratched-up frying pan, check out your city’s recycling guidelines or give its recycling hotline a call. Old non-stick pots and pans cannot be placed in the normal garbage bins. Chances are you will need to drop them off at a depot that accepts scrap metal
I do admit that I use non-stick cookwares for cooking as I have never thought about the health consequences. I have decided to use less non-stick cookwares and resort to dear old “Illapa Chatti” , Cast iron cookware and stainless steel pans. We should be careful in choosing a good quality cast iron and stainless steel wares as additional metals may be used to manufacture the utensils. Buy the utensils made by a reputed manufacturer.
Do we all remember the times when our mother lovingly roasted the potatoes (for potato curry) in the(Illapa chatti) iron pan, there is a delicious caramelization brown that sticks to the surface of the pan. I still remember fighting with my brother to have that brown crust. When foods are browned, carmelization begins, and the “fond”, that mess of brown goo and dark bits stuck on the bottom of your pan, becomes a goldmine of taste, flavor, aroma, as well as adding visual appeal to the finished dish. That brown stuff is highly desirable as it provides the base for the delicious, savory underpinnings of all your sauces,curries, soups and gravies. This develops because the drippings, the juices, sugars and fats, spices from the food stick to the pan and brown; so no sticking, no browning = no taste. Got it?
Also while new nonstick pans’ ability to repel sticky foods fades over time (often just a year or two), a well-seasoned cast iron pan/ good stainless steel pans will only get better with age, and will last you for a lifetime. This ultimate longevity is what makes cast iron and stainless steel such a great, green addition to any kitchen.
If you still like to use non-stick cookwares make sure that you do not overheat the utensils as overheating causes toxic fumes to be released into the air. Use silicone/ non-stick spatula to avoid scratching the pans.
But I have decided to resort to olden ways by using less non-stick cook wares and start cooking in Illapa Chatti and stainless steel!
Until then – Bye from PetalDew, From nature with love.