Lets talk cookware

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by glocke12, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. glocke12, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011

    glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    #1
    About ten years ago I was given an expensive Caphalon non stick cookware as a gift. I treated it well, but most of it is not longer "non stick".

    I've also owned various other non-stick pieces of cookware, only to find that after a couple of years the non stick coatings peeled off, and I am sure I ended up eating some which kind of freaks me out.

    Same thing for kitchen utensils. Most spatulas, spoons etc that I find in stores are made of a plastic type material and I eventually find that they fall apart and probably wind up in my food.

    Seriously thinking of going stainless steel...

    what are y'all using?
     
  2. iJohnHenry, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011

    iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #2
    I don't have any at the moment, but many people are going back to cast iron.

    Just be sure to 'season' them properly before use.
     
  3. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #3
    I like cooking and have used - and still use exclusively - cast iron cookware (Le Creuset), stainless steel (Italian made mostly, such as Lagostina, or the German brand Fissler), and (okay, sheer self-indulgence) Italian copper saucepans.

    My advice would be to buy a good Italian or German stainless steel (18/10 quality) set, and/or cast iron. Buy as good a quality as you can afford, as it'll be worth it and will last well. As this can be quite expensive, I'd suggest that you can often get really good stuff in the sales, (that is when I have bought some of my really good stuff).

    Cheers
     
  4. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    #4
    I'm a huge cast iron fan. I've had good luck finding some neat Wagoner stuff in my local antique store. The Lodge stuff I've bought new has a rough cooking surface, the Wagner stuff has a factory machined surface. That said, even the new Lodge stuff I cook eggs on without issue. I even have a set of ManGrates for the grill.

    I recently found an old cast iron waffle maker, I cleaned it up but haven't used it yet.

    I have a fairly inexpensive stainless steel set of pots and pans for occasional use.

    I'll never use "non-stick" cookware again.
     
  5. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000

    eternlgladiator

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Location:
    Twin Cities
    #5
    I don't think you can go with all one style. Stainless is great stuff but to switch to it from nonstick is a big change. You have to cook differently and you'll still want a couple nonstick pans. Things will stick to stainless like crazy if you don't know what you're doing. I think a hybrid type set is the best way to go as much as I love things to match. I buy the pots and pans I want for what I need them to do.
     
  6. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #6
    i recently went through the same switch.

    got rid of almost all non-stick (mostly leCrueset) and after a good deal of research settled on All-Clad.
    Pricey, but really really good: it is stainless steel interior, magnetic steel exterior, with an aluminum core all the way up the sides, to reduce weight and to spread the heat better (quicker and more even).

    If you really want to splurge, go for the copper-core set.

    be aware that it takes a bit of a learning curve to go away from non-stick, and they are more work to cook with and to clean
     
  7. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Location:
    Illinois
    #7
    I cook a lot. I had calphalon and many others, including copper bottom, stainless steel, and many, many cheapo store brand non-stick items. The non-stick always gave way, and the cooking was never very consistent.

    A long time ago, I was given a very, very old cast iron pan, and put it into the back of my cabinet. A couple of years ago, I pulled it out thinking it would be good for a particular searing purpose, and discovered that NOTHING stuck to it. It cooked evenly, heated up far better, and was incredible in its versatility. I now cook almost exclusively with cast iron pans. Today, even my newer, less well seasoned pans are basically magical in their resistence to anything sticking to them. If I burn residue away from the food, or have carmalized sauces, or even egg, it wipes right off. The worst was something weird someone made, and whatever it was came off with a light scrub.

    For what I do, a flat round 12" pancake pan (no sides), an 8" round, a couple 12" rounds, and a larger 14-16" pan are about all I need to make almost everything imaginable.

    If you switch to cast iron, remember that old can be a good thing, and good seasoning and smart cleaning are important.
     
  8. Mousse, Mar 11, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011

    Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2008
    Location:
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    #8
    Nothing beats cast iron for skillets in my book. Everything cooks evenly with an iron pot.:cool: It takes a while (I measure time in Ice Ages:p) to properly season the cooking surface to make it nonstick. Well worth it, IMO. On the downside, you have to careful how to clean it or you'll damage that nonstick surface you worked so hard to get.
     
  9. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    Jan 30, 2004
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    having a drink at Milliways
    #9
    i have a cast iron skillet that i use rarely and it is rusty. how do i season it?
     
  10. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2008
    Location:
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    #10
    First off, clean ALL the rust off the pan. No duh, right?;) I usually just cook normally until it gets develops the non-stick surface (that's why my way takes so long:p).

    I've heard folks applying a thin coat of cooking oil on the cooking surface and then heating it up in an oven (450-500F for 30 minutes). Flip the pan upside down, so that the oil excess oil drips off the pan. Aluminum foil is good to keep your oven clean.:) It might take several applications to get a good non-stick surface.

    One more thing, I'd only use a cast iron pot on a gas range. I've lost a 12 year old skillet to an electric range. It cracked where it touched the heating coil.:(
     
  11. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Chicago, Illinois
  12. StruckANerve macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    Rio Rancho, NM
    #12
    I have been working on seasoning a new cast iron skillet that I got a few years ago but never used. It works okay but things are still sticking to it. What I love to use is a very well seasoned Wok that my father-in-law gave me. That is an amazing piece of cookware that I would recommend to anyone. If you get one make sure it is Carbon Steel. There are plenty of videos on youtube on how to properly season a Wok.
     
  13. vincenz macrumors 601

    vincenz

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    #13
    Another vote for cast iron. You won't go wrong with a seasoned pan.
     
  14. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #14
    Most of my stuff is Fissler stainless steel (I've got 5 pans and a saute pan).

    I have a small 'Vogue' non stick fry pan, and a couple of no-brand unfinished steel pans with flat steel handles (not heat proof!). These three I bought for very little at a restaurant supplies shop... the steel pans needed to be seasoned, but now they're great for searing steak or duck then transferring to the oven to finish off.

    I also have a large el-cheapo non stick frying pan (Tefal) and a cast iron griddle.

    I have a small Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker (fantastic for curry and stew in 1/3 normal time) and an old Le Cruset stew pan (has a saute pan for a lid). Honestly I don't like Le Cruset... the enamel inner can't take high heat (and sticks easily), the non stick doesn't last long and the massive weight means it takes ages to heat up and cool down - just too inflexible for the price.

    Personally, I think the ideal set consists of good quality stainless stuff for general purpose use, coupled with cheap steel and non stick saute pans. Even big-bucks non stick pans don't last very long, so you may as well buy mid range or cheaper ones and replace them more often. I do like the professional saute pans with the metal handles... you need to use a heat proof glove with them, but they're great for transferring stuff to the oven for finishing.
     
  15. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    Jan 30, 2004
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    #15
    the problem with this approach is that cheaper stuff releases more/worse plastics into the food.
     
  16. firestarter, Mar 11, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #16
    Where did you read that?

    Maybe no name stuff has poor coating, but Teflon are probably the biggest name in non-stick here in the UK - and the Vogue professional pans I'm using are restaurant grade '3 times Telflon Platinum coating'. At $25 or less for a medium saute pan, they're well priced and hard wearing as they're designed for commercial kitchens.

    When I say cheap or mid range, I'm talking about shopping smart for good priced high quality gear - as opposed to spending $150 on a Fissler non stick saute pan that's only going to last a couple of years.

    It's better to give a mid range pan an early retirement rather than keep using a high end non-stick after it's coating has started to come off, just because you spent $$$$ on it.


    Edit: I notice that you've recently gone all steel, and I agree with that approach for most things. Eggs and batters are easier to do on non-stick, but for everyday stuff including meat I find myself using steel instead. If you're making any sort of sauce after sauteing meat, the deglazing liquid pretty effectively cleans the pan anyway.
     
  17. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #17
    I have a comical amount of cookware given that I live alone -- it's probably time I get rid of some. Attributable to my parents giving me a pile of their old cookware when I moved out, and also me buying a bunch in the years since.

    My go-to pan is a 10" Lodge Logic cast iron skillet. It stays on my stove top since I use it the most. I also own two enamelled cast iron dutch ovens which are great for stews and roasts, and I want to try making artisan bread with them too. I also own a 12" Lagostina stainless steel skillet.

    I use a couple of stainless steel saucepans and pots in various sizes, which I use for making pasta and soup.

    Then there's my "own, but don't really use" pile:
    - a large non-stick wok
    - an 8" Lodge Logic cast iron skillet
    - an 8" Starfrit "50% lighter" cast iron skillet
    - a large KitchenAid enamelled cast iron roasting pan with ridges
    - one of those flat, oval shaped fajita pans
    - several other old non-stick frying pans from my parents
     
  18. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    #18
    One thing to consider when thinking about going with stainless steel. If you plan to spend a lot on your new stainless steel cookware you may want to think long term about your stove top. The new, induction based, cook tops are not compatible with all stainless steel cookware.

    From what I've heard the induction cook tops are pretty fantastic technology and you don't want to go and replace all your cookware if/when you upgrade your stove.

    Cheers
     
  19. VictoriaStudent macrumors regular

    VictoriaStudent

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    #19

    I would strongly consider Le Creuset. It has several advantages over any other cookware:


    1) It will never rust, unlike cast iron...no seasoning ever required.
    2) It is completely non-toxic and will never leach anything into your food
    3) With Le Creuset, cooking temperatures can be reduced. For example, with an electric stove, I never have to turn the burner more than half-way up - I get temperatures similar to "High Heat" with only 1/2 power. Dittor for gas - in fact, with gas..the lowest temps are often enough to boil water quickly.
    4) Because it retains heat well, I can also turn the heat off around 10 minutes or so before my dish is done (burner cooking).
    5) It will last a life-time, and can be passed on to your children (or someone else) when you pass on..thus saving precious resources.

    sure, it costs more..but, it will also be the last set of cookware you will ever have to purchase.

    ps: if you get stainless steel, get the highest grade you can. Some tests have shown inferior grades will release nickel into your food. Granted, the levels released are low..but, there are no real standards of safety when it comes to that sort of thing. And, for god's sake, avoid all teflon. Casual googling reveals that crap is dangerous.
     
  20. Don't panic, Mar 11, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011

    Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #20
    i'll start from last: as i mentioned earlier, going all non-stick required a bit of re-learning to cook some dishes (including eggs), but eventually it's fine and i really like my cookware now and i basically don't see any need for non-stick, although i still have some of my old gear (solid aluminum brand stuff).
    at the end, the major difference is that non-stick has to be just a little bit more 'hands-on' and requires more continuous attention.

    as far as the toxic plastics that might get released, i had read a lot of reviews articles on the subject when i was deciding what to get to replace my ageing set of non-stick (including actual studies), and basically there are two issues with old non-stick coatings.

    One is the material used to make the non-stick 'stick' to the pan, which is different from brand to brand even if the coating itself is the same (teflon for example). what is used will affect how easily and under what conditions the coating comes off (e.g. temperature).

    the second is the non-stick material itself. teflon is probably the most common and used to be the norm but is not used muchanymore, because while it is mostly 'safe' under normal usage conditions, it becomes toxic when it is 'overheated' or when it starts peeling off, because it releases the fluoropolymers it's made of.

    the catch is that that temperature (typically 500°F) is reached fairly easily in spots under 'normal' conditions, especially if the pans are the cheaper, thin ones, but it still can be achieved with the thicker aluminum ones that disperse heat well (like the ones I had), in particular as they age.
    the higher the temperature, the more nasty the toxic gases/plastics released. higher temperature are easily reached with 'dry' pans, which is why you should always have 'something' cooking in the pan and not pre-heat.
    actually the least problematic are the bits/flakes, because they are just going to go through, and because as they mix with the food, their temp stays lower. However, a chipped pan is also more likely to release the toxic compounds.

    In addition, not all brands use teflon (which is proprietary) and other compounds might have worse or better characteristics.

    i think the latest generation products avoid teflon and teflon-like material alltogether and use ceramic coatings. this should avoid most (all?) the toxicity aspects, but still eventually chip off, and you need to replace them, because food cooks unevenly in scratched pans.

    in all we are not talking of drop-dead toxicity, but given that we were going to have to buy new stuff anyways, and with young kids around , we decided to byte the stainless-steel bullet and go all no-non-stick.

    on a related note, for similar reason i now don't heat/re-heat anything in any plastics anymore (even supposedly safe ones), especially in the microwave, but always transfer to glass/ceramic and then re-transfer if necessary.
     
  21. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #21
    Long time cast iron fan here. We have some antiques that have been in my wife's family for centuries.

    Dale
     

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  22. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    #22
    I'm sure my cabinets will eventually look similar. I'm looking for a used bread pan. I currently have:

    16.5" x 9.5" Lodge double sided griddle
    12" Lodge round skillet
    11" Lodge square ribbed skillet
    10.5" Lodge round flat skillet
    10" Lodge dutch oven
    9" Wagoner cornbread skillet
    (4) 9 x 6.5" oval serving dishes with wood trays
    (2) 8" Lodge skillets
    8" Wagoner waffle iron
    (3) Mangrates


    I have found that doing the initial seasoning with avocado or grape seed oil at a high tempt works well. These oils burn off at a high temps so they provide a good base to work with and won't burn off in normal cooking. After that just cook as normal.

    NEVER clean cast iron with soap, use a plastic based sponge if you need to scrub it, otherwise just wipe clean with a paper towel. If you have to rinse it with water then throw it back on the stove at med-low to burn off any extra water. if you just can't get something to scrub off then put it back on the stove with enough water to cover the burt on stuff and bring it to a simmer, it will come right off. I spray my stuff lightly with olive oil lightly before putting it away, most people wipe it with some sort of oil before storing.

    The manGrates I treat a little differently. Since I am often cooking at much higher temps on the grill the seasoning burns off rather easily. I let them cool covered on the grill (this takes hours, they retain heat like a mofo) then store dirty. When I use them again I get them up to temp then clean right before use.
     
  23. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
  24. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #24
    Maybe you need to show me first hand :)

    My better half and I are really getting into cooking here...
     
  25. Tolmion macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2011
    #25
    Re:

    I may be used and the kitchen - pots cast iron (Le Creuset), stainless steel (made in Italy Lagostina rule, or the German Mark Fissler) and (okay, a sheer delight) Battery Copper Italian cuisine - and then only .

    My advice would be to build a good quality stainless steel Italian or German (18/10 quality) and / or purchase of cast iron. Buy a good quality you can afford, because it's worth it and go. These can be very expensive, I'd say (this is where I bought some of my really good stuff) is often very good things in the past to get.
     

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