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What's wrong with my non-stick pan...the beginner's guide to Non-toxic Cookware

So this is the post that you aren't going to wan to read if you've just gotten a brand new, non-stick cookware set...because I know, it's expensive and soooo easy to clean. I mean, I was the person who raised my hand to say that the reason I was registering for non-stick cookware was because I hated doing dishes and wanted to make doing dishes as easy as possible. But that was 12 years ago, and now I know better and have been working on replacing all of my cookware the past few years.

So what's the matter with that great, easy to clean non-stick coating - well it's the fact that those chemicals that repel the food are not so good for you and can wind up in your food. So if you're cooking with non-stick, you're also eating those chemicals.

Ok, now you know why not to use non-stick so what the heck are you going to use? There are some "safe" non-stick options out there that are coated with ceramic (I have this one that I actually picked up at Wegmans), which I use for eggs...but everything else I use either stainless steel or cast iron cookware.

Stainless steel is probably the best and easiest option once you learn how to cook on it and not get everything stuck to the bottom of the pan, since you don't have to deal with the "seasoning" of it like you do for a cast iron pan. The trick here is that people hate cleaning them. I know, I hate doing dishes too, and I cook ALL THE TIME and have a lot of dishes. A few cleaning tricks....especially if you get stuff stuck to the pan.

  1. Pour regular white vinegar (seriously the more I venture into safe cleaning the more valuable this stuff is!) into the pan, and put it back on the stove. Heat it up until you start to see a little steam come off it, and then turn it off. Let it cool and let the vinegar work its magic on whatever is stuck on the pan. Then clean normally.

  2. Use Bon Ami cleansing powder , this is a safe and non-toxic version of Comet or Bar Keepers Friend, to scrub clean the pan. This also works great if you aren't getting the sheen on your stainless pans or they are starting to look not clean even though they are clean. You can also use this in a lot of other places for cleaning too - works great on your stainless sink and to clean sinks and toilets :)

The other commonly available, and reasonably affordable option is cast iron. The drawbacks are that it's heavy and there is a learning curve on how to cook and clean on it. But if you're going to get a really good sear, or are low on iron, this is a great cooking option to have. So you're wondering what the heck I'm referring to when I say "season" the pan right. I'm not an expert, but the folks at Lodge are so check out their directions here. I clean my pan with regular (non-toxic) dish soap, then dry it on the stove top, and then add coconut oil. Once you do it a few times it just becomes what you do. That being said, I use my stainless pots and pans 85% of the time and the cast iron about 15% of the time, but that's just what works for me.

So what do you think, is this enough to get you started? What other questions do you have - let me know!

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