Not too long ago I saw a cookware set that had pretty, colorful handles and a non-stick surface…and they were inexpensive. I was thinking about buying them but realized that in the description of the pots and pans, the advertiser didn’t specify that they were of the anodized variety.
Now, I had no idea what anodized actually meant but I knew that a lot of manufactures make it a point to tell potential customers that their pans are anodized so I suspected that that was considered an important selling point…and therefore a desirable thing. I decided to do a little research into the cookware world.
I went to cookware.com and read the following.
“The benefit of hard-anodization is that it makes the cookware resist corrosion and abrasion. This cookware is extremely durable and enjoys a very long life span. These surfaces do not chip or peel, and this process is actually used to protect the surfaces of satellites from the harshness of space and to harden automotive motor parts in race cars to protect them against heat and friction. The process of hard-anodization creates a chemically stable surface that does not decompose and is completely nontoxic. Using high heat will not damage it in fact anodized pans are heat-resistant to the melting point of aluminum, which is 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit. Hard-anodized cookware is also very smooth, making it naturally stick-resistant. The anodizing process actually affects the pan itself, becoming part of the pan. It is not just a coating. The inner aluminum core conducts heat very well and cooks very evenly. This core runs through the entire pan, not just the base. This creates an even heat throughout the pan that warms very quickly, although the handles stay relatively cool. ”
That sounded good but there were also many arguments against using the anodized pans. For example, this was a warning from yourcookwarehelper.com regarding the anodized products.
“Anodized Aluminum Cookware Manufacturers and industry lobbyists all claim it is safe. Their biggest argument is that the amount of aluminum leached from hard anodized aluminum cookware is a mere 35 micrograms. That is a small amount. By itself, as a single dose, it is not harmful. My recommendation is this: I recommend you to avoid hard anodized aluminum cookware. The issue is not about the small single dose. It is about the cumulative effect it can have. Just like eating a single chocolate bar is not going to cause a serious disease. However, 3-6 chocolate bars a day every day, will have an impact on your body. If most meals are cooked with anodized aluminum frypans, saute pans, sauce pans, and stockpots, the cumulative effect, along with the aluminum you already get from other items in our environment, may cause a health issue.”
Some of the negatives cited for the anodized aluminum cookware had to do with the fact that they are sometimes lined with non-stick surfaces that are undesirable. Teflon or other PFC’s had quite a bad reputation for safety. I had a couple of skillets and a saucepan lined with that type of non-stick surface and I took a good look at all the scratches, tiny, bare spots and pits in the surface and realized that I was feeding bits of chemical gunk to my family along with the food I was dishing up.
Admittedly, I did very little serious digging into the issue so I don’t claim any expertise but since I was in the market for new cookware and was going to pay for something one way or another, I decided to find pots and pans that didn’t have any particular controversy surrounding their use.
Some of the safer materials I looked at were glass, ceramic, stainless steel and cast iron. I actually had a few cast iron pieces that I eschewed years ago in favor of the ease of non-stick surfaces. I had them stuffed way back in a cabinet so I brought them out, seasoned them and started using them again. They’re heavy and they cook a little differently than my “poison pans” but I was much happier using them knowing what I’d learned about the cookware I’d been using.
I decided I liked the cast iron and after a little more research found that Le Creuset makes cast iron pieces with a smooth enamel surface that comes in lots of beautiful colors. I splurged and bought a couple of pieces…a skillet, saucepan and dutch oven to use for now and I’ll slowly add to my collection over time. Le Creuset isn’t cheap but it has a 100 year warranty. Unlike other pots and pans, you don’t have to replace them every few years. There are also other manufacturers out there who make less expensive, wonderful products.
I don’t think replacing old, coated cookware is an emergency situation but I thought I’d share what I found out. Most of us will eventually be in the market for new pots and pans so when it’s time, why not pick some that won’t leech possibly undesirable things into our food?
On a side note, I was in the market recently and saw a magazine with some wonderful looking recipes in it. I added it to my cart and was HORRIFIED when it rang up at $12.99.
What?!? I figured the thing would be about $5.oo. Oh well, too late. I’ll have to make good use of it in the coming days!
Wishing all of you happy, warm meals on these cold, winter nights!