Hey, tumblr mom! Since everyone is asking you about food can I ask your opinion on frying pans? We need to replace ours and my husband is really into the idea of buying cast iron frying pan. It seems like to much work for me, tough. I've always used either stainless steel or teflon ones. What do you think? Is it worthy? And if you had to choose between teflon or stainless steel which would you buy?
Oh, and I was going to mention it in the other ask I sent but forgot. I have IBS and one thing that really helps me is chilean boldo infusion. Idk how easy it to find it where you live (the fresh leaves work best), but it’s something a lot of south-americans use to treat hepatic and gastrointestinal issues. (Fun fact: the nurse at my high school used to have a bottle of concentrated cold boldo infusion in the fridge to give to students who were hangover)
Thank you for that last little bit, it’s something I will bring up with my allergist/many doctors as a quick google tells me it could also help my gallstone/bile production issues. So thank you :)
And ooooh god not teflon, anything but teflon, firstly because I don’t like how they cook/retain heat, and secondly because of some of the health concerns that comes with what happens when teflon starts to break down and you start eating it/breathing it in. Y’all can call me a mad hippy over that if you want but when your immune system is as fragile as mine you’ll avoid anything at all that might harm it.
Both stainless steel and cast iron have their merits.
You are right in that the cast iron takes a little more work to upkeep—initially. After it’s been seasoned a few times and you don’t do things like soak it in water or scrub it with lemon juice, it’s going to become practically indestructible. There’s a reason you can still buy cast iron skillets in antique stores that just need a little bit of salt and oil to get them back in working order. If you maintain it right, your cast iron will likely outlive you by quite a few decades. I wipe mine clean after every use using waterand a non acidic soap, dry it on a high heat, and then season lightly with some oil after each use. Once it starts to smoke, that’s you, you’re done seasoning. You only really have to do the salt and oil scrub if it loses the coating or if something gets burned onto it, or if you have rust spots, which happen form not being properly sealed.
I will say, cast iron is hard to get used to working with at first, because of how differently you have to manage the way it conducts heat. Cast iron is great at retaining heat, which is what makes it great for searing meat and yes, even baking in, but you need to get it hot first, which can require about ten minutes of prep over a hot stove trying to ensure even heat coverage. (I throw mine in the oven for 20 mins)
That might seem like a lot of work, but given how well it retains the heat after that, it actually cooks things better. With stainless steel the output of heat is enough to sear the outside of something, but to cook say, a chicken in it (yes you can cook a whole chicken in a skillet) you’d need to keep it on the heat for longer for the heat to reach the middle, resulting in chewy over tough food. With cast iron, the heat output from it is so much better that it’s already starting to cook the rest of the bird while you’re searing it, resulting in less cook time, and hopefully a more juicy meat—as well as making the outside very nice and crispy. Cast iron is great for making things crispy.
That and you know, you can fight the Fae folk with it if the need arises.
There’s a common misconception that you can just throw things into a stainless steel pan and it’ll be fine. But the truth is if you want to maintain your stainless steel in good working condition, you will want to make sure it’s evenly oiled before any food touches it (Ask ETD about the time he made popcorn and ruined my pot because there wasn’t enough oil around the SIDES of the pot so the heat just obliterated everything and I had to buffer the pot to get it back to working condition, he felt so bad lol) and make sure that it is adequately preheated. Otherwise your food is just going to burn and stick to the base and it’s going to be a mother fucker to get it off. I’ve seen far too many people burn away the caramelization going on in their stainless steel pans because they don’t know how to heat/preheat with it. (note if your caramelization does get stuck, loosen it up with some water or better yet some stock, get that flavor back in your food yo!) Other than that, yea, once you get used to how stainless steel works and retains heat, it is lower energy when it comes to maintenance vs cast iron. Just don’t use cold salt water in them, or you risk pitting the pans. (As I have previously talked about)
Because you have mentioned you have IBS, I will stress the importance of trying to buy as high quality stainless steel as you can, as not all stainless steel is made equal.
Surgical stainless steel is the safest as it is non porous, while a lot of the cheap stainless steel you can pick up (I’m thinking of places like Walmart and Target) can break down and leech into food during the cooking process. Stainless steel is an alloy made from a mix of metals including iron, chromium (is what keeps it from corroding) and nickel to name but a few components, and given nickel is a high allergy metal you don’t want that going into the foods of people who may be sensitive/allergic. (I had a friend find this out the hard way that that is what was going on with her)
The way I was taught to test the quality of the pan is by holding a magnet up to it. If it sticks? It’s typically going to be higher in nickel than you want it to be and could cause a possible health risk for people with nickel allergies. Nickel is also a carcinogenic and considered worse than aluminium which everyone and their dog is now trying to get away from because of the metal being linked to cancers and altzheimers, so, just something to keep in mind seen as how you already have a compromised gut <3
(Also to those of you reading this now who are about to go check your pans: if it sticks? It’s not a cause for panic. Although if you have a known nickel allergy and you keep getting sick and you have no idea why…you may want to consider replacing your pans.)
There is also a third option available to you, which is ceramic pans. Which honestly have become my favorite frying pans to cook with. Due to their low metal content they will not work on induction stove tops, but if you’re using electric or gas you’re good to go.
They still don’t have the slippy non stick you get from teflon pans where flipping a pancake is akin to wielding a projectile weapon, but given how ceramic heats up and retains heat, they are pretty non stick and it makes them ideal for cooking with a lot of things. You also generally shouldn’t use metal utensils on them, because you can damage the glaze, but plastic, wood and silicone are fine.
They’re sort of like the easier to maintain version of cast iron in that regard and use less oil to cook with. (I personally would never fry eggs on stainless steel, meat and veg sure, but eggs need a surface that is more forgiving and ceramic was a god damn revolution to me. I speak from over a decade’s worth of experience of making breakfasts in restaurants and cafes) They are also great for throwing in the oven, and using as shallow casserole dishes, provided you make sure they are listed as oven safe. (Mine is good up to 350′f)
Due to the materials they are made with, they are also pretty damn sturdy and hard to break, and you also can’t damage them by soaking them in water, which is also nice. You should not however cook on anything higher than a medium-high heat on them, whacking your heat up as far as you can with a ceramic pan is going to cause issues (it will cause issues with a lot of pans tbh, but you can generally get away with it for boiling water, just not in a ceramic pot), like breaking down the glaze quicker and ruining the non stick. You also should not take it from a hot stove and throw it in the sink right after cleaning. You really shouldn’t do that with any cooking utensil, but especially do not do it with ceramic as you might crack or even explode it. And no one wants that.
Again, like stainless steel, not all ceramic pans are made equal and some will be made from cheap material/coated with an extra non stick layer to compensate for this, and they will break down faster/ruin your food, so keep that in mind if you do decide you want to look into them. Between the three, ceramic is in my experience the best, most easily maintained non stick without the health risks of teflon. It’ll also cost less in the long run, because you wont have to replace the pan as often as you would a teflon one.
I currently have the Green Pan Lima frying pans, which tbh I found a lot cheaper in an outlet mall than Amazon currently has it listed for, and I think Target might be selling them right now too for cheaper. It’s an excellent pan and I can get really crispy results with it due to how well it holds heat. I’ve also used it to bake with.
I have also used the Cuisinart ceramic range, which you can use metal on, but I sort of found the heat retention to be not as good as Green Pan Lima.
And then there’s also the Green Life range which tends to be cheaper and rather cute, even if it doesn’t feel quite as sturdy in my hands. (They currently have both the large and small pan on sale on Amazon for $30, which is pretty good) I’ve got my eye on their ceramic bake ware sets though. I’m intrigued to see how they’d work out compared to my metal tins.
Anyway, I hope some of that was helpful for you, in weighing your options. Ultimately it’s about personal preference. I love all my pans, cast iron, stainless steel and ceramic, but it really depends on how much maintenance you are willing to put in, and how much you are willing to spend.
As for the rest of you, you now know more about cookware than you likely want to, but who knows, it might be useful for you one day :)