The immensely popular and favorite of many household cooks:
Not all nonstick coatings in cookware are created equal. You do need to know the difference, and the way in which you use and maintain them will determine how long a nonstick coating will last.
Further confusing is the fact that while one manufacturer will prescribe one way of proper maintenance, another manufacturer will recommend something else altogether. But there are some basic care principles for maintaining non-sticks that apply to all of them, and we will present them here for you.
Firstly, let’s examine the benefits of non-stick cookware.
Non-stick cookware will, with proper care, last for a very long time. Also, they are generally very affordable, compared to other cookwares.
They are easy to handle, being lightweight, and considered by many to be more user-friendly than other cookwares. The ease with which food is released from the pots and pans is what cooks find most appealing about them, although their time-saving qualities—even given the amount of care they need—are a close second.
A few notes regarding non-stick surfaces’ safety-
Used correctly there is no health threat when using non-stick cookware. In the past there were some justifiable concerns, which manufacturers quickly responded to and revised their constructions materials accordingly. Today manufacturers stress the assurance that their products are made in strict adherence to established safety guidelines.
Safety concerns in the past centered on the cookwares that used chemically engineered compounds to create the non-stick coatings. Hard-anodized and ceramic based non-stick surfaces were never considered as risky. The chemically engineered surfaces were discovered to be leaching chemicals into the food—at levels considered as a health risk.
That is no longer an issue because, again, manufacturers have adjusted their construction materials and fabrication techniques so that the amount of chemical leaching is well within, or under, safety guidelines. Used properly, nonstick pans absolutely do not pose a health threat.
Proper Care, Use, and Maintenance of Non-Stick Cookware-
1. Always wash a brand new pot or pan, with medium hot, soapy water, before cooking with it. Rinse and dry it thoroughly. You do not need to “season” or “cure” a non-stick, once it has been washed, you are good to go.
2. While some manufacturers will say that you can use metal utensils with your cookware, take that with several grains of course sea salt. Hogwash. Metal spatulas, spoons, etc., will scratch the non-stick coatings and, over time, render them useless. Even a tiny scratch or nick will cause food to stick there, and eventually the edges of the scratch will start to peel. Use heat-resistant silicone products or wooden ones, exclusively on your non-stick cookware.
3. Even though perhaps the main reason for going with non-stick cookware is because they are not supposed to need oils to cook with them, it is best to use just a small amount of butter, margarine, or cooking oil with them. Over time, cooked food particles will interact with the chemical coating, altering and damaging its non-stick quality. Do note, however, that you should not use cooking spray oils on non-stick surfaces. They typically have additives in them that can prove to be too harsh for nonstick surfaces.
4. Avoid using high heat for cooking with nonstick cookware, for two reasons: one, high heat will eventually break down the coating, damaging its nonstick capability, and two, high heats will increase the amount of chemical leaching, possibly to higher than safety standards. A good rule of thumb is to observe your butter in the heating pan … if it starts to burn, the heat is too high.
5. Never store foods in nonstick pots and pans. Cooked foods, especially those acidic in nature, can damage the nonstick surfaces if left in the pot or pan for long. Take the time to put leftover cooked foods in proper storage containers if you want to store them for use later.
6. Avoid extreme changes in temperature. After cooking, allow the pots and pans to cool to room temperature before washing them, and especially do not immerse them right away in cold water to cool them. This can not only damage the nonstick surfaces, it can cause warping too.
7. Nonstick cookware is not dishwasher safe. Sure it’s tempting to just start chucking your dirty pots and pans in the dishwasher, but you will, over time, ruin the nonstick coatings. Dishwasher detergents are just too harsh. Always hand wash them, with medium hot, soapy water, and then rinse and dry them thoroughly.
8. Proper Storage. When storing your nonstick pots and pans away, if you are stacking them, place a paper towel in between them. This will prevent the bottom of one from scratching the surface of the one beneath it.
Okay. Now that we know some pertinent information about nonstick cookware, let’s get into presenting what we here at Ethnic Foods R Us consider to be the three top brands – starting with the most expensive down to the most affordable.
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10-piece Cookware Set
Price: $199.95, with FREE shipping
This set gets rave reviews by scores of happy cooks. Reports are that all the pieces in the set perform with excellence – they heat up fast and evenly, and cleaning them is a snap. And the stay-cool handles, made with the very sturdy anodized aluminum, is another appealing feature.
- Calphalon’s signature hard-anodized aluminum construction for excellent conductivity and even heating.
- The interior surface is double-coated with Calphalon’s sturdy, reliable nonstick coating.
- Tempered glass covers
Rachael Ray Hard Anodized II Nonstick Dishwasher Safe 10-Piece Cookware Set, Orange
Price: $134.84, with FREE shipping
One of the highest rated cookware sets on Amazon.com, cooks’ reviews report that this set is very easy to handle and performs like a much higher priced set. Reviews also claim they are sturdy and solid, and heat quickly and evenly. It does rely on an applied chemically engineered, especially tough nonstick surface, so it’s not a true “hard-anodized” set (see above for “Hard Anodized Cookware”), but still and all, a very worthy performing set of cookware.
Also appreciated is the ease with which they clean up. Although the manufacturer’s claim that they are “dishwasher safe” we do not place a lot of stock in. The few complaints registered had to do with the nonstick surfaces scratching and peeling within the first three years, and we tend to think that is because those complaining were using the dishwasher to clean their pots and pans. We recommend you appreciate the ease with which cooked food slides off the surfaces while washing them by hand.
Overall, this set is a crowd pleaser, and a tremendous value for the price.
- Set includes: 1-quart,covered saucepan, 2-quart,covered saucepan, 6-quart,covered stockpot, 3-quart,covered saute, 8.5-inch skillet, 10-inch skillet
- Dishwasher safe. A long-lasting nonstick interior lets food slide off with ease and makes cleanup quick and easy
- Grippy handles – fun rubberized handles are oven safe to 350 degrees F
- Tempered glass lids; Lifetime limited warranty
T-fal C112SC Signature Nonstick Expert Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Red
Price: $74.95, with FREE shipping
For a bargain basement set of nonstick cookware, you just can’t beat this one. They are surprisingly solid and sturdy, with well fitting, tight sealing lids. In a 2014 episode, America’s Test Kitchen gave one of these pans a high recommendation, which helped lead to a swift rise in consumer popularity. There are some reviewers’ complaints about warping, scratching, peeling, etc., but overall, for this incredible low price, this set is an outstanding value.
Note: This manufacturer also touts this set as being “dishwasher safe”. Don’t believe it. Wash them by hand, and take good care of them, and your “bargain basement” investment will last a lot longer.
- Heavy gauge aluminum construction with vented glass Lids
- Ergonomic, stay-cool handles; Safe to use with metal utensils
- Nonstick exterior for fast and easy cleaning
- Dishwasher safe; oven safe to 350 degrees F
- Limited lifetime warranty
Again, the above sets are what we consider the best deals in terms of pricing and quality. But if you would like to see a full selection of Non-Stick Cookware sets, CLICK HERE.
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