Your cookware should be made of an inert bacteria free material which does not peel or crack or dissolve. Moreover, it should be a good heat conductor in order to cook uniformly and it should be easy to clean. And it would be wonderful if these could be esthetically attractive.
What is enameled cookware?
Enameled cookware is the result of its coating with a glassy enameled glaze. Food adheres to steel and cast iron enameled cookware much harder than to uncoated metal cookware. Therefore, these may be used as a substitute for Teflon-coated cookware, avoiding thus any health risks associated to Teflon agents. According to Cookware Talk, enameled cookware is lead free.
Enameled cookware is much safer than aluminum cookware which reacts in contact with acid food and which, besides high toxicity, may affect the flavor and taste while they are being cooked.
Steel and cast iron enameled cookware may be used when cooking in low or high fire for a long period of time, without losing its non-stick properties, unlike the Teflon layer. They also have remarkable heat retention properties, which makes them energetically effective.
Now, this type of cookware has regained its reputation, as there are studies which indicate that health problems may occur when using Teflon and many consumers are more and more informed on the quality of the cooking process.
Enamel covers cast iron and steel to prevent rusting and they do not react with any type of food. Enameled cookware is easy to clean and safe for oven use.
Enameled steel and cast iron cookware is ideal for types of food which require long cooking in low fire. This kitchen cookware may be easily used on the cooking machine as well as serving cookware due to its attractive esthetic aspect. Just by adding a little oil in the enameled cookware, it has excellent low adherence properties to the cookware walls. It may also be put safely into the refrigerator or freezer.
You may use safely this type of cookware on any kind of cooking machine
Cookware properly made of enamel coated steel is safe for cooking, according to the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. In the past, some of the cookware used to contain cadmium, a potentially toxic agent made of red, yellow and orange pigments used for coloring the inner side of enameled cookware, but at present, it has been removed, and the inner side of cookware is exclusively coated with inert alimentary enamels.
Cast iron cookware is thick and dense with high capacity of heat retaining. Thickness requires more time (and energy) to heat up. Cooking in cast iron cookware provides an important source of nutrients as well.
Terracotta (ceramics) is considered safe for cooking. Yet, lead has been used in some of the cookware glazes. But, the tests performed by FDA in 1987 showed that the amount of lead from this type of cookware dissolved in food products has not exceeded the FDA standards. As a general rule, glazed, lead free earthenware and enameled cookware are the best choice.
Aluminum is a very good heat conductor, light, cheap and easy to clean. Nevertheless, some aluminum agents are dissolved in food products, when acid food products are cooked, such as fruit and tomatoes or those containing vinegar. Food products prepared in aluminum cookware may react with metal forming aluminum salts associated with motion and visual coordination disorders, being suspected that they may favor the occurrence of Alzheimer, but no definite connection has been confirmed.
- Keep aluminum cookware in good condition - the more worn out it is, the more the level of adsorbed aluminum by food products will be higher.
- Minimize the storage duration of food products in aluminum cookware. The more food products are prepared and kept in aluminum cookware, the more the level of adsorbed aluminum will be higher.
- Avoid preparing highly acid food products in aluminum cookware. The manufacturers of aluminum cookware warn that extremely acid or salted food products, such as tomato sauce or sauerkraut, stored in aluminum cookware may cause the assimilation of higher aluminum amounts than usual.
More expensive anodized aluminum cookware is a safer alternative.
Another alternative would be enamel coated steel or aluminum. As long as the coating layer is preserved in good condition, the surface of such cookware is long lasting and the metal does not reach food products.
Many people who care about their health rely on stainless steel cookware. But, as stainless steel is relatively inert as compared to other metals, the alloy metals may be released in food products in extremely low amounts. These metals may include nickel, molybdenum, titanium, aluminum, steel and carbon.
Researchers have different opinions on the effects of these metals upon our health. Most of them say that, although these amounts are not dangerous for the average person, they may affect sensitive people. A 1995 study has found that stainless steel cookware has contributed significantly to the increase of nickel level in cooked food. On the other hand, another study, published in 1995 as well, has found only minor increases of nickel concentrations in acid food products when stainless steel cookware is new. The mixture of steel, chrome and nickel produce corrosion proof steel which is easy to clean. Stainless steel cookware is considered one of the best and safest options when choosing cookware.
Avoid using abrasive cleaning materials when cleaning stainless steel cookware.
Stainless steel cookware may become an issue if abrasive materials are frequently used because, when being cleaned, they release small quantities of chrome and nickel. Nickel is not poisoning in small quantities, but it may cause allergic reactions. Nickel allergic people should avoid stainless steel cookware.
Recent studies suggest that copper cookware may be a better choice than stainless steel cookware. Based on the conclusions of a team of researchers from the University of Southampton England, using copper cookware may reduce the infection risk caused by potentially lethal bacteria, such as E.coli 0157.
"Stainless steel is used worldwide due to its properties considered to be hygienic â€¦ But a closer look shows scratches and marks which, at a microscopic scale, are quite deep. It is very easy for pathogen agents to infiltrate in these cracks and rubbing their surface with a rag or brush cannot be effective enough as to destroy them ", says Bill Keevil, the microbiologist who conducted the study.
Keevil and his team have found that, at the room temperature, E. coli 0157 has survived for 34 days on stainless steel and only four hours on copper.
Nevertheless, certain health experts warn on the high levels of copper occurred following the preparation of acid food products, which may cause diseases and chemical toxicity. Copper is a heavy, toxic metal as well as an essential mineral for health. Intoxication symptoms include focusing issues, unexplainable nausea, irritability, hyperactivity, constant fatigue and chronic pains.
Scientists and nutritionists agree that most diets contain enough copper to prevent deficiencies, but not enough to cause toxicity. The capacity of a healthy human liver to eliminate copper is significant and only few cases of intoxication have been reported.
Irrespective of the cookware you choose, keep it clean, do not use rough cleaning sponges and follow the manufacturersâ€™ maintenance instructions. New cookware is definitely better than old cookware.
Although Teflon cookware is preferred by many people who wish to decrease the level of fats in their diet, it is not recommendable, especially due to health and environment issues regarding the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical product used for Teflon coating. It was proved that PFOA may cause cancer, small weight at birth and a repressed immunity system at animals exposed to high doses.
Teflon is easy to scratch and may release small quantities of inert plastic in food products as well as toxic vapors at high temperatures. Studies show that DuPont Teflon releases toxic particles from 446 Â° F to 680 Â° F, out of which at least six toxic gases, including two cancerous substances. DuPont, the holder of Teflon trademark, admits that the smoke may affect people, making reference to a certain affection named ''polymer fume fever''.
Even if PFOA is removed, concerns persist regarding the toxic vapors released from Teflon coated cookware if it is overheated. According to DuPont, Teflon layer cookware have a maximum 500 Fahrenheit degree recommended temperature of use and significant decompositions of the protection layer shall only occur when the temperature exceeds 660 Fahrenheit degrees.
In 2003 Environmental Working Group (EWG) has reported that the ''Teflon may reach 700 Fahrenheit degrees in less than three-five minutes, releasing 15 types of toxic and chemical gases, including two cancerous types''.
- Consider replacing your Teflon cookware.
- Do not overheat your Teflon cookware. The non-adherent coating layer is hazardous if overheated. This may happen if an empty pan is left on a burner. Should this be the case, the smoke released may be irritating or dangerous. If you intend to keep on using Teflon, prepare food products only in low fire.