Q: I'm looking for help in selecting new cookware. My Teflon set is 8 years old and flaking, and I'd like to get pots and pans without Teflon coating, as I'm concerned about the health risks associated with nonstick cookware.
I'd like something that food doesn't stick to, is easy to clean, and is economical, and I am open to mixing and matching (e.g. stainless pots and iron skillets).
I hope to get three pots (including a stock pot) and two or three frying pans. Suggestions? Which stores do you suggest? (I live in Philadelphia.) Thanks for your help!
Sent by Jill
Editor: Jill, our best advice is to look into cast iron cookware. It's very affordable, lasts forever, and is completely natural. Keeping it seasoned may sound intimidating at first, but is very easy to get used to. We recommend Lodge Cookware, which can be ordered online or found at hardware stores or places like Walmart.
The only downside to cast iron is that is can be reactive to acidic ingredients, giving food a tinny taste or discolorations. It's not harmful, just a little annoying. The better your pans are seasoned, the less of an issue this is.
Here's some more information on cast iron:
• What's the Difference Between Cooking with Nonstick and Cast Iron Pans?
• Technique: Seasoning Cast Iron
• How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan
• Food Science: What is the Seasoning on Cast Iron Cookware?
Martha Stewart has also come out with a line of green nonstick cookware, which doesn't use the PTFE chemical in the coating (the main issue with teflon), though we think it might be discontinued. Cuisinart has a similar line of green nonstick pans available on Amazon for around $140 for a 10-piece set. Our sister site Re-Nest recently did a round-up of the best green nonstick cookware.
For stockpots and other pans, we'd recommend going with stainless steel pots (like All-Clad). They're not nonstick, but you'll also be using them more for simmering soups and braises than stir-frying over high heat.
Does anyone else have suggestions for Jill?
Related: Good Question: Investing in New Cookware