Cooking Without Nonstick Pans

We still have a few nonstick skillets in the house, but I haven’t been using them. Last night I cooked something I was sure was going to stick to my stainless steel pan (stir fried chard with garlic, olive oil, fried tofu, white soy sauce, and sweet soy sauce — yum!). When I was done, the pan looked even worse than I had imagined, but with a sprinkle of baking soda, it came off easily. And, honestly, if it hadn’t, it’s not like it wouldn’t have after a good soak.

So why were we all (or at least a lot of us) convinced that we needed to cook on a non-stick surface anyway? A regular set of pots and pans can last a lifetime (and then be given a second life if passed on or donated to a thrift store), but teflon-coated pans last five years at most before they stop being sticky or get scratched. And where is that teflon going? Into our food?

I read up for a bit on new “green” nonstick pans on the market, but even if those surfaces create less pollution in production and aren’t going to release toxins at high heat, it still seems like a product I don’t need. We’ve got the set of pots and pans I bought when I moved out almost twenty years ago, and we have cast iron. We probably have more than we need.

Sometimes avoiding plastics and petroleum products doesn’t require an alternative; it just requires that we recognize that some of the things we think we need aren’t actually necessary.

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2 Responses to Cooking Without Nonstick Pans

  1. I have recently forced myself and asked my wife to start “over using” our cast iron skillet. I found a couple good restoration technics on pintrest that have got our skillet back to a smooth, nonsticking, piece of equipment. I feel better and i believe the food is tasting better. May just be my opinion, or all in my head, but it truly does taste better. I’m glad I’m not the only one looking to lose those high dollar pans that only last a few years at best.

  2. Mezzie Learns says:

    My husband restored our cast iron skillet after we’d mispacked it in a move and it rusted while sitting in a garage way too long. That’s another thing cast iron has over nonstick; you can’t restore nonstick.

    Ours gets used every day now, and I don’t think you’re wrong that the food tastes better. The same is true for woks — nothing we cook on a skillet is ever as good as it is cooked on a wok. Maybe it has to do with heat distribution or that both types of surfaces have to be seasoned. Our wok station is non-operational right now, but we’re hoping to get it up again in the summer.

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