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Stovetop cooking

October 11, 2008

Do you use non-stick cookware?  My husband washed our non-stick (the registered trademark is Teflon) pan in the dishwasher, rendering it useless and dangerous.  I sent him to throw it out in the dumpster, but a friend stopped him and asked, “Why are you throwing that expensive pan out?  Can I take it with me?  My family could use it.”  I explained to him that it was ruined and poisonous and warned him not to take it to his house.  The surface was not shiny anymore and the manuals for non-stick pans always say not to put them in the dishwasher.  Unfortunately, I’m not confident that I convinced him how dangerous it would be to cook with that pan because he seemed to really want to take it home.  I went inside and let my husband continue to talk with his friend out by the dumpster.  I hope they threw it away.

I bought another non-stick pan to replace the one that was ruined.  We usually cook dinner in stainless steel pots and I have a stainless steel pan.  But for pancakes and french toast and eggs, the non-stick pans are so much better.  I also like the non-stick pans for grilled cheese sandwiches, but I was thinking if the bread gets toasty it could lightly scratch the surface and I might not notice.  Then all kinds of chemicals would be in our food.

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grilled cheese sandwich

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pancakes

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I follow the instructions in the manual and use low heat.  I don’t preheat the skillet for more than a minute and the electric burner is either on 3 or 4 (out of 9 on our stove).  When I am finished cooking I put the pan into the empty sink and let it cool before washing it by hand.  If I see any deterioration, I tend to ask my husband if we can get a new one.  We’ve had 3 pans in 4 years because I get paranoid about overusing an old one.

So, I’d like to know what you think.  Is it a fair trade off to have your food slide off the pan easily but doubt the safety of the non-stick coating?  Are you partial to a certain type of stovetop cookware?  I don’t have a cast iron skillet, but I am thinking it might be wise to get one and learn how to use it.  Please share what you know.

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6 Comments
  1. October 11, 2008 10:15 pm

    Huh. I never knew that about non-stick cookware. I’ve washed my same frying pan in the dishwasher for the past 13 years.

    Obviously I’m NO help. 😀

  2. October 12, 2008 12:24 pm

    i loved my non-stick pans but they need to be replaced. i have a cast iron skillet and have had a hard time with it and food sticking to it. i did everything one is supposed to do to maintain its fabulosity- keeping it oiled between uses, checking for rust, etc.

    Still, stuff sticks. 😦

    That grilled cheese looks pretty.

  3. October 12, 2008 8:42 pm

    We stopped using non-stick stuff a few years ago after reading that we shoudn’t keep our parakeets in the kitchen because non-stick cookware gives off fumes when cooking that can kill them. Hmmm… if it’s bad for them…..?

    We just use stainless steel now, and I use a heck of a lot of butter when cooking eggs, grilled cheese, etc. Or sometimes I use pam.

  4. October 13, 2008 10:55 am

    Haha, Kemi. I noticed that it lost its shine and went from black to gray after being washed in the dishwasher. But maybe some pans are designed to go in the dishwasher while others warn against it. I’m just trying to follow the manual and stay relatively safe.

    Thanks, C. I like an easy lunch like grilled cheese. I’m sorry your cast iron skillet isn’t cooperating. That’s what I am afraid of; that’s what keeps me from trying one.

    Kristin, yes, I read that the gases kill birds! But those studies had the pans on “high” preheating for too long. I don’t think that kind of heat is necessary. I actually like my eggs to be soft and cooked on low slow heat.

  5. Susannah permalink
    October 13, 2008 4:32 pm

    I’m constantly pestering my mother-in-law to throw out some of her old Teflon pans…supposedly it hasn’t harmed my family b/c my father-in-law is in excellent health at 70 years old!

    I love the non-stick properties because, like kristin, I use way too much butter when cooking with our stainless pans!

    Cast-iron is fantastic and I think once you get the hang of it they are really some of the best cookware products. I’m partial to a cast-iron dutch oven! 🙂

  6. refincher permalink
    October 13, 2008 8:45 pm

    I’ve been concerned recently about using teflon, but I didn’t know the dishwasher was a problem…my teflon things are so old and scratched…yikes! Anyhow, I am a BIG fan of cast iron. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the habit of caring for it, it’s really no more trouble than any other pan and just as non-stick as teflon. Plus you have the benefit of additional iron in your food. Now if only there were such a thing as a cast iron electric skillet to replace my broken but beloved teflon one!

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