Your non-stick pans are ironically named because everything’s sticky. What to do? What to buy? I’ve recently used coated ceramic pans, and this is my report.
For those of us who take cooking pretty seriously, non-stick cookware is a slippery path we all fall down.
Often, it’s not slippery enough. Or it becomes unslippery far too soon in our cooking journey. If only there were metals that were non-stick without chemical treatment. Alas, we must call upon science for the best in unsticky cooking experiences.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably T-Fal’ed and Teflon’d your way through a litany of non-stick cookware options. Why so fickle, one may ask? Well, they just never last, do they?
The death of the unsticky pan
It’s a slow-go, the demise of once-non-stick pans. Then one day you notice your bacon is sticking to the pan. Bacon. Bacon! Something that is, like, 98.3% fat is sticking to your “nonstick” pan. What is this betrayal?
Foolishly, you decide it’s an anomaly. It’s okay. Your mad cooking skills will atone for said anomaly.
At least this is what you convince yourself is true until that regrettable day you decide you’d like an omelette. You get cracking. Eggs meet pan. Heart sinks. An eggy layer sticks to the entire pan and you’re scraping your ugly, disappointing meal onto your plate.
And so the non-stick pan quest resumes again.
The non-stick controversy
The trouble with Teflon and other non-stick devices as that it eventually fails and flakes off. In some, this is impossible not to notice. In others, it’s hard to tell when the coating has failed, like when I was the unfortunate cook of the Unhappy Omelette.
There are those with anecdotal evidence about the dangers of eating any non-stick coating that flakes off, but the USA’s EPA tells us they have yet to prove any of these claims. There is no evidence, they tell us, that Teflon or other coatings are dangerous or that it’s the missing link to Alzheimer’s, or whatever else you’ve heard.
So if we assume the EPA knows a thing or two, we can assume the pans are safe, and the failing of the coating isn’t a step towards an unholy death, but instead just a total pain.
That still leaves non-stick cookware a controversy among the pros. Why? Cooks LOVE high heat. Many things require low and slow cooking, but high heat makes all the difference with everything from steaks and fish to mushrooms and potatoes. Caramelization is the dream when saute pans are cranked to 11 and the flames fly.
Non-stick cookware can’t take high heats. This is pretty much true of most brands. Cooks will tell you old-school cast iron or heavy aluminum is where it’s at, and that if your meat is sticking to the pan, it’s just not cooked yet. Once it stops sticking, it’s been properly seared. (Really.)
I’ll agree with all of that, but when it comes to making my hashbrowns, sauteeing onions, and other tasty things, it’s all about the non-stick cookware, and I can handle a medium-high maximum heat.
Enter the ceramic-coated non-stick pan
When my messy omelette broke my cheffy little heart, I decided I needed a new non-stick pan. I spotted the Bialetti Aeternum ceramic-coated non-stick pan and thought it was a nice-looking pan, well-priced, and I have a bit of a mad love for ceramic, so I wanted to get it a try. For $22, I figured it was worth the adventure.
After a month, I’ve loved cooking with it. But I’m pretty new in my ownership of the pan. The non-stick aspect is so good that it was actually difficult to flip my eggs, they slipped around so much.
But how will it last?
This is the trick with all non-stick pans, including eco-friendly ones like mine: Longevity. I’ve never had a non-stick pan stay pristine for a whole year, and if this one fails, like a number of online reviewers claim it does after a few months, I’ll likely shrug it off and accept that this is just the case for most non-stick cookware.
Then again, perhaps all these reviewers are not babying these pans like they should be. A number of these convenience sponges with “cookware-safe scrubbers” are very hot commodities with the handwashing community, but I know my non-stick pans I’ve just burned through all went downhill quickly with these supposedly “non-stick safe” scrubbing sponges. Even if it claims it’s “non-stick safe,” don’t go there! Soak it for a half-hour if you must and wipe it clean. Don’t “scrub.”
This time, I will soak and softly scrub these pans, and hopefully they’ll last like they ought to last. So far, I have none of the “dots” or wear that some complained of, and others posted reviews saying they were a year into ownership and the pans were mint-condition thanks to careful cleaning.
If you’re willing to clean things properly, use the pans as directed, and be very careful how you put them away so that other pans’ bottoms never touch the cooking surface, you might love investing in new eco-friendly lines of non-stick ceramic cookware.
Lots of brands exist for non-stick ceramic cookware, but I’ve not used others. They all receive similarly popular reviews of the 4-5-star ratings from their owners on all the big websites. Look for lines like T-Fal, WearEver, Ozeri’s Green Earth line, and others.
No matter how great your non-stick cookware, you can expect them to last longer if you do all your high-heat searing in indestructible cast-iron pans instead. Stock your kitchen with some of each, and you’ll have all your cooking needs addressed.