To non-stick or not to non-stick thats the question

Santa is back to Finland, the sale now starts.

I’m used to fry in my steel frying pan(s). As long as it is heated enough before oil is added, the steel pans are perfectly non-stick. Pancakes, fried potatoes no problem! My wife thinks different though. Non-stick steel pan for use on a low temperature does not seem to exist indeed.

Should I reconsider and get the non-stick frying pan? I’m tempted, but there are some concerns about environment & health regarding the non-stick layer.

Ceramic non-stick surface have fewer health concerns (particularly wrt overheating causing thermal decomposition).

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We have two frying pans made by Greenpan. They have ceramic non stick and you can cook with hardly any oil. You can get lids as well, which we find really useful. Highly recommend.

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Another vote for ceramic frying pans. We have two Greenpan ones too and they are great. You can put them in the dishwasher if you want.

But I also have a Le Creuset traditional well seasoned cast iron one that my mother gave me nearly 50 years ago when I left Uni, that I keep for making omelettes. That just gets wiped clean with kitchen paper towel.

Best

David

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Nice to see a ceramic recommendation - I’ve seen ceramic coated pans cropping up more and more in general shops but never really been convinced- those Greenpan look a great product to try.

I’ve avoided Teflon type non-stick for some time due to the potential for toxic fumes/breakdown products. Frankly incredible such products are allowed on the market still.

+1 for Le Creuset.
You don’t need another expensive plastic spatula to remove what’s cooked from the pan without worrying about ruining the non stick finish.
Get one with a lid so you can make delicious Shakshuka.

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Another vote for Greenpan. Coating is lasting better than any other brand we have had.

Well it depends on what you are cooking; I use a dedicated pan for omelettes, it’s from John Welch. I use a cast iron griddle pan for steaks and a de Bauer steel pan for a fry up, and a small one for blinis. I have just bought a cast iron sauté pan from Staub as I love their casserole pans.

I must take a look at the Greenpan stuff as my steel pan has warped overtime.

First, to answer your question correctly, it depends on what you cook and how you cook.

I will describe the three best all natural materials and then address newer non-stick materials.

The best non-stick pan for low to moderate heat that has no health or environmental concerns and actually supplies benefits is tin coated copper. The pan can be renewed eternally—I have copper pots tht are hundreds of years old. Tin is naturally anti-stick, and copper has the best thermal conductivity of any commonly ised cooking material. That means your food will cook more evenly, which also reduces sticking.

However, tin-lined copper is not inexpensive initially (though long term it’s cheaper) and requires a short learning curve to use correctly.

The next best non-stick natural pan is cast iron. Properly seasoned cast iron actually forms a non-stick polymerized coating that arises as the seasoning oil molecularly changes. This is an inexpensive and highly durable material. It is, however heavy, and distributes heat poorly. As a consequence, it also retains heat a long time. Depending on what you cook, this can be a benefit or deficit of the material. I love my cast iron, but use it primarily for hight temperature searing.

The third traditionaL non stick pan is high carbon or black steel. These are traditional restaurant sautee pans. They are lighter than cast-iron and are also virtually indestructible. Like cast-iron, however, they require periodic seasoning to maintain their non-stick qualities.

It is the maintenance involved in traditional materials that gave rise to modern nonstick materials. That’s a big advantage of them, But they also require a very different sort of maintenance—The pens need periodic replacement because their coatings have short life spans.

All of the non-stick pans have issues to varying degrees. Yes, Teflon off-gases. Some of the ceramic pans also use a PTFE or other dangerous offgassing material—and often don’t label what sort of stabilizers are involved. Some ceramic coated pans (I was a potter for 7 years and love all things clay, including high technology ceramics) have dangerous chemicals in the application materials. Other ceramics currently seem fine—though the product is sufficiently new that we may not yet know long term issues. Ceramic is also the least thermally efficient material out there. So it can have hot-spot issues.

Finally, all of the new material pans have another glaring problem. The coefficient of expansion between the base metal (often aluminimum, sometimes stainless) and the coaring are quite different. That can ofer time give rise to delamination. If misused (left to heat unattended—for example if you get distracted by kids, or the beautiful music of your all Naim system) they can spectacularly and dangerously delaminate. This happens rarely, but it is a possibility.

So the truth is that there is no perfect solition, but a series of trade-offs that a thoughtful consumer can navigate. We own one advaced coating non-stick pan. We use it only on occasion. Otherwise, we find the traditional materials are better for the planet, better for our health and better to cook with—but I was also a trained chef in my first career.

Good luck!

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Thanks for your extensive reply, it is appreciated!

I have not bought the new pan(s) yet, but I have thrown away or given the old pans to the charity shop. It is just that I can’t appreciate bad pans anymore.

We bought 2 years ago a big set of Mauviel pans, the mCook series, which are beautiful pans. Every time we use them - and we have only LeCreuset and Mauviel now - it is a true joy besides the few times that it goes wrong but it mostly works fine.

We agreed over the weekend that we continue using this series and we get another few Mauviels. It was a family decision taken once everybody agreed on using them in the right way - quite nice to see that kids know how to check if the heat of a steel pan is high enough so that it is non-stick.

A thing I noticed is that we need much less energy to cook using these pans. They are much more efficient than the ones we had before.

Tinned copper pans were ruled out since they can’t go in the dishwasher! I discovered that it is possible to get the pans retinned at the Mauviel factory, which makes me even more a fan of them.

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An update …

My wife is binge watching Emiliy in Paris and she pointed me to this scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A22epABWNPg

It reminded me of this topic. I have been to a few local shops and they all sell these Tefal pans. I could not push myself to buy these. Ultimately, I took the plunge and ordered the most simpel Mauviel pan twice: the mSteel 24 cm frying pan. Just steel pans and we followed the seasoning instructions and to be honest, it are very good pans. And the good news: they go for under 30 euros each.

It is completely unclear to me now why the high street shops sell these Tefal pans or other non-stick in China produced pans.

All you need to fry an egg, make pancakes, roast nuts et cetera is a simple steel pan! Fast - therefore environment friendly and last a lifetime.

And no soap!

Now I’m feeling old - I have no idea what Emily in Paris is…

A quick Google tells me that it is a comedy which premiered less than 3 weeks ago, so I don’t think you need to worry too much.

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The lingerie has me intrigued :smiling_imp:

I bought a ceramic frying pan and casserole dish in a Sainsbury’s sale earlier this year - certainly seem good for the price, probably not a popular brand and I think the induction hob causes the center to heat more rapidly which probably causes slight distortion but no delaminating or cracking as yet. Cleans quickly in the dishwasher too.

Any suggestions for roasting tins and trays that last and don’t delaminate after a few uses? Wondering whether the Lakeland had andodised will be any good.

Just use a shiny steel roasting tin. I bought mine from the local cook shop and it wasn’t expensive. I use it to roast most sundays then make the gravy in it, then rinse out into a large pot to make stock. After 10 years of heavy use it still looks perfect.

For a good quality stainless steel frying pan that won’t break the bank, I like the IKEA Sensuell 28cm.

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How odd, never heard of it before and BBC article today about it culturally stereotyping the French.

Emily apparently played by Phil Collins’ daughter.