Tips for Using Your Pots and Pans Effectively
There are a number of ways to use your pots and pans cleanly and greenly. The major considerations are to cook food properly without it sticking or leaching harmful chemicals into your food, and to cook efficiently in a manner that will get the job done with the least amount of fuel consumption.
Why You Should Steer Clear of “Non-Stick” Pans
Non-stick pans will start to stick sooner or later. This is because a metal spatula or even a fork will cause tiny scrapes that will damage the non-stick coating (such as Teflon) over time, and cause it to disintegrate and leave food sticking. Even worse, the chlorine in the Teflon (yes, like the chlorine in bleach) can leach into your foods. It can also be released into the atmosphere, returning to its natural gaseous state.
Watching Out for Aluminum
A lot of cheap cookware is flimsy and can melt in high temperatures. It can also leach minerals into your foods. Aluminum cookware has even been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cleaner and Greener Solutions
It can be tempting to buy any old cheap pot on sale, but the truth is that some are better value than others. The value is in relation to cooking results, ease of cleaning, durability, ease of care and long-term use and versatility.
1. Le Creuset
The Le Creuset line of cookware is expensive and a bit on the heavy side, but well worth it. It can go from oven to table to fridge or freezer, and to the stovetop as well. It is enameled cast iron and resists sticking, scratching, or any other type of damage — short of dropping it from a huge height and cracking it.
The enameling makes it energy efficient, so you will find food cooks faster on the stove or in the oven, in a similar manner to your using glass bakeware. The tight-fitting lids keep heat and moisture in, further making this cookware one of the most efficient way of preparing meals in the kitchen. It is dishwasher safe, but also really easy to clean by hand.
2. Cusinart Green Gourmet
Cusinart Green Gourmet cookware is a more affordable option, though it won’t be as durable. It is non-stick without Teflon and is made of recycled stainless steel and ceramic. Ceramic cookware tends to also cook more efficiently than conventional pots and pans. The downside is it is not dishwasher safe and can’t be used on induction cooktops. Don’t use metal utensils, or it will damage the coating. Wood and plastic spatulas and other utensils can be used. It can only be used on the stovetop.
3. Ceramic Cookware
Ceramic is all natural, made with clay which is hardened and then polished to a smooth, durable finish. Like Le Creuset, it can go from oven to table and in some cases even into the microwave. It is sturdy, lightweight and won’t stick provided you oil it well.
No matter which pots you put on your stove, think about efficiency. For example, if you are boiling pasta, either add your vegetables right in it, or place in a bamboo steamer above the boiling water.
Make more soups, stews and casseroles, for one-pot meals that will retain all the nutrition of the food and make for easy clean-ups.
Try eating more stir fries too. They are quick and easy and take less than 5 minutes.