Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sticking to my "No Non-Stick" Commitment

I have known for years that cooking on a "non-stick" pan is detrimental to my family's health.  I keep ignoring that little guy with wings who sits on my right shoulder and warns me to not use those pans.  The little guy in the red suit on my left shoulder keeps reminding me of how convenient those pans are.

I finally made a commitment to use the non-stick pan only for pancakes until I can purchase a cast iron griddle.  I use my cast iron skillet for all other frying, and I do like it.  Even if it's not as convenient as a non-stick pan, at least I know my skillet is not off-gassing carcinogens and that I am not ingesting Teflon coating in the various flakes that usually peel off of the surface of the pan.

Yes, this change is way over due, and I know better than to put off the inevitable change.  I have altered my food choices and food preparation choices in many ways through the years, but I held onto this "non-stick" convenience out of stubbornness.

If you are just getting started in the use of cast iron, be sure to season your pan well.  A good-seasoned and well-used cast iron skillet will turn black.  For the first seasoning, we usually apply a layer of flax oil on the skillet and heat in a 150-250 degree oven for a couple of hours.  From then on, after washing and heat-drying the skillet, we reapply the oil and heat on the stove top on low for about five minutes.

Cleaning:  do not use soaps or metal scrubbers in your cast iron.  Instead, use hot water and a plastic scrubbie.  After rinsing, heat the pan on the stove top until dry.  If the seasoning is wearing out, give the pan another coat of flax oil at that time and heat through.

Another cooking option is to use stainless steel or ceramic cookware. All of our pots are stainless steel, and I have a ceramic skillet on order.  I am interested in hearing of anyone with experience using ceramic.

Be slick.

Dangers of Teflon

Is Teflon Dangerous?

Ceramic Cookware

Note:  I have used shortening on occasion to season the skillet.  I do not advocate the use of shortening in baking or cooking.  The amount used in seasoning the pan is very small.  Flax oil is another alternative for seasoning cast iron, and it yields a somewhat more durable coat.

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