We broke up with Teflon and have a new relationship with the cast iron pan. After the constant replacing of scratched pans and wondering if Teflon is really safe to cook on, we decided to ditch it. I was scared to live with out it! I love making a quick egg with easy clean up, and Teflon pans do clean up quickly.
A quick overview about why Teflon is a concern.
Years ago, a cancer causing compound was found in Teflon and has been removed. If you have old Teflon, I’d read a few articles and decide if you still want to cook on it. Personally, I wouldn’t. While the Teflon product has improvements to its safety, I’m not thrilled that when heated too high (like preheating a pan) or scratched, it can still present health risks. We are legit eating chemicals. But can we live without it? I found this article balanced and informative. Not to mention, you have to replace Teflon pans if they become scratched. Cast iron will last a lifetime. Think about all the Teflon pans in the garbage and energy used to make pans that are in essence temporary. Plus, they get expensive.
I (Will) do most of the cooking in our house, and Susan does the baking. I always wanted to master cooking eggs in traditional pan without them sticking, so Susan challenged me to not use Teflon for 30 days. We took the pans out of the cabinet and set them in another room and broke out the cast iron pans.
In short, the answer is there was some adjustment time, but cast iron is amazing. It’s a habit change to clean and care for cast iron, but once we got used to it, no big deal. If you’re thinking of ditching Teflon, here’s some things we learned while making the switch to cast iron, plus some steel pan options as well.
Season Cast Iron Correctly
The main thing is cast iron needs to be seasoned or ‘oiled up’ to make it non stick. We found vegetable oil worked the best and lasted the longest. We reseasoned as needed. Here’s a good video how-to from Serious Eats.
Cleaning Cast Iron
We don’t use heavy dish washing detergent and we don’t have a dishwasher. (We have to renovate our kitchen to install a dishwasher.) All our pans are washed by hand! It takes a minute to wash a pan. If food gets stuck, we use a stainless steel scrubber to remove it. Overall, it’s been pretty easy to care for once you get in the routine.
Buying Cast Iron
Yes, you can buy vintage! If you see a rusty old pan while antiquing, you can restore it. It’s kinda amazing how these pans were built to last. I rounded up my favorites for your shopping pleasure. One of the less expensive brands is Lodge. We have Lodge pans and they are amazing. I also linked to some local makers and more designer cast iron.
- Finex Cast-Iron 12 in Skillet with Lid
- Barebones Cast Iron Kit, 12 Inch Skillet & Crock Pot with Lid
- Lodge Cast Iron Baking Pan
- Field Company Cast Iron Skillet #10
- Lodge Cast Iron 5-Piece Cookware Set
- Barebones Cast Iron Skillet, 12 Inches
Buying Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel Pans
Another option is carbon steel and stainless steel. It’s just a matter of preference – they both have the same functionality. One bonus with steel pans, they are much more light weight than cast iron. I find the carbon steel doesn’t hold heat for as long as cast iron. That could be good or bad, depending on what you’re cooking.
- Chainmail Scrubber
- All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Stainless-Steel Traditional Covered Fry Pan
- de Buyer Mineral “B” Fry Pan
What I Learned
Switching pans is like anything you do in life, it takes practice to get the hang of how it works. Now I can cook fried eggs, and slide them out of the pan without a spatula. And well, it’s safe to eat, too.
One Small Thing
I asked a group of my friends on social and from the blogging community to try something with me: each month we change one small thing. One small habit. It takes a very long time to change behavior we’ve had our entire life. Think about it: will it take one or two generations to change how much and what we consume? I hope this topic inspires you to see what changes the group is making.