Nonstick skillets are the invaluable utility player on your pots-and-pans team, but they’re not like the cast-iron pan lovingly handed down from your mother: These pans are fragile, and when the coating becomes scratched or starts to peel, you’ll need a new one. Even the most expensive nonsticks will eventually show wear, especially if you forget the “don’t use a metal spoon or spatula” rule, or if you tend to bang pots around in your cupboards—so how much you should pay is a matter of debate among the Cooking Light staffers. Some prefer to buy the least expensive (but solid) nonstick skillet and replace it every year or two. Others opt for a premium pan and treat it with maximum respect. Test Kitchen Chef Robin Bashinsky recently replaced his well-cared-for All-Clad nonstick skillet after 10 years. “I think the expense was well worth it,” Bashinsky deadpans.
Most pans feature a layer of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a petroleum-based polymer. “It’s a waxy substance that repels water,” explains Hugh Rushing, executive vice president of the Cookware Manufacturers Association. “As the cooking temperature rises, water is released from food and pushes the food off the pan.”
To make a pan, a primer is sprayed on the base metal (usually hard-anodized aluminum), followed by an optional secondary layer containing reinforcing materials to help prevent scratches; then comes a top coat consisting of the nonstick material. Teflon is the most widely known, but there are many proprietary coatings. Higher prices usually buy you more layers.
Concerns about toxins released by PTFE or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the chemical bond that helps nonstick coatings adhere to the metal pan, relate mostly to the manufacturing process rather than careful everyday cooking. But you should never crank the heat above medium-high, and toss any pan that’s heavily scratched.
Ceramic or silica-based “green” coatings, which form a slick, glasslike surface, are an alternative to traditional nonstick. Ceramic needs a bit of TLC; we’ve found it chips easily if banged against other pans.
5 Ways to Keep Your Pan Performing
- High temperatures reduce the pan’s lifespan, so use only low to medium-high heat.
- Use only plastic, silicone, or wooden utensils, and avoid cutting in the pan.
- Cooking sprays are another no-no. “They contain lecithin, which leaves a gummy residue that interferes with the nonstick qualities,” says Michael Witsch, senior research chemist with DuPont.
- Skip the dishwasher (even if the manufacturer says it’s OK). Let your pan cool after use, then wash with warm, soapy water and a sponge. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Warranties range from a few years to a lifetime, but most don’t cover normal wear and tear. Stick with a known brand if you want the guarantee; store brands may not be made by the same company every year.
Original article by Arricca Elin Sansone in CookingLight
When you first get your cast iron pan, it will have either a bullet-gray dull finish (for an unseasoned pan), or a black, slick-looking surface (for a preseasoned pan). Unless you are buying a 75-year-old pan from a garage sale, your pan will also have a pebbly-looking surface like this one:
Modern cast iron is bumpy like this because it’s been cast in a sand-based mold as opposed to the solid molds old cast iron were cast in. Some people claim and that it’s not possible to season these bumpy pans properly. I don’t buy it. I have compared my shiny, totally smooth 1930s Griswold (acquired at a flea market) to my 10-year-old Lodge skillet (which I bought new and seasoned myself). The old stuff is certainly more non-stick, but the new Lodge pan is pretty darn close, and good enough for most needs.
So the key is all in seasoning it properly. How does it work?
Well, if you look at a cast iron pan under a microscope, you’ll see all kinds of tiny little pores, cracks, and irregularities in the surface.* When food cooks, it can seep into these cracks, causing it to stick. Not only that, but proteins can actually form chemical bonds with the metal as it comes into contact with it. Ever have a piece of fish tear in half as you cook it because it seems like it’s actually bonded with the pan? That’s because it has.
To prevent both of these things from happening, you need to fill in the little pores, as well as creating a protective layer above the bottom of the pan to prevent protein from coming into contact with it. Enter fat.
When fat is heated in the presence of metal and oxygen, it polymerizes. Or, to put it more simply, it forms a solid, plasticlike substance that coats the pan. The more times oil is reheated in a pan, the thicker this coating gets, and the better the nonstick properties of the cookware.
Here’s how to build up the initial layer of seasoning in your pan:
Scrub your pan by pouring a half cup of kosher salt into it and rubbing it with a paper towel. This will scour out any dust and impurities that may have collected in it prior to use. Wash it thoroughly with hot, soapy water and dry it carefully.
Oil your pan by rubbing down every surface with a paper towel soaked in a highly unsaturated fat like corn, vegetable, or canola oil. Unsaturated fats are more reactive than saturated fats (like shortening, lard, or other animal-based fats), and thus polymerize better. It’s an old myth that bacon fat or lard makes the best seasoning agent, probably borne of the fact that those fats were very cheap back in cast iron’s heyday
Heat your pan by placing it in a 450°F oven for 30 minutes (it will smoke), until its surface is distinctly blacker than when you started. An oven will heat the pan more evenly than the stovetop will, leading to a better initial layer of seasoning
Repeat the oiling and heating steps three to four times until your pan is nearly pitch black. Pull it out of the oven, place it on the stovetop to cool. Your pan is now seasoned and ready to go
Until you’ve got a good layer of seasoning built up, avoid excessive use of soap or cooking acidic sauces, as both can make the process take longer.
People are irrationally afraid of caring for cast iron. The truth is, once you’ve got a good layer of seasoning, cast iron is pretty tough. You can’t scratch it out with metal utensils. You can’t destroy it by using soaps (modern dish soaps are very gentle on everything except for grease). To maintain and build on it, all it takes is to remember a few key points:
Use it often. A good layer of polymers should build up slowly in thin, thin layers. This means using your pan as much as possible—particularly for oil-based tasks such as frying or searing. Avoid cooking liquid-based dishes in the pan until it has acquired a reasonably good nonstick surface
Clean it immediately after use. Removing food debris is much easier from a hot pan than from one that has been allowed to cool. If you clean your cast iron skillet while it is still hot, chances are all you’ll need is a tiny bit of soap, and a soft sponge. I’m particularly wary of this at dinner parties when a well-intentioned guest may decide to chip in after dinner and get a little too generous with the elbow grease, potentially scrubbing out some of my seasoning
In most cases, avoid tough abrasives. These include metal scrubby scouring pads, and cleaners like Comet or Bar Keepers Friend. The scrubby side of a soft sponge should be plenty for most tasks
Dry thoroughly, reheat it, and oil it before storing. After rinsing out my pan, I replace it on a burner and heat it until it just starts to smoke before rubbing the entire inside surface with a paper towel lightly dipped in oil. Take it off the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. The oil will form a protective barrier preventing it from coming into contact with moisture or air until its next use
We were looking for some rice cookers because we wanted to give a nice one to a friend at her house warming ceremony. I know everybody has a rice cooker, but there comes a time when cooking in old appliance becomes boring. Moreover, such things are never wasted. She could always sell her old appliance. Since we colleagues were pooling our monies, we collected a decent sum. Our obvious intention was to purchase a Japanese rice cooker. We were going through some of those Japanese rice cooker reviews when we came across a name called Tiger rice cooker. Have you heard of Tiger rice cookers? I never did before today. I would have presumed them to be Indian make because India has tigers, not Japan. At least not that I know of. But as it turns out, this company is from Japan!
The products looked attractive. The design is good, and simple. What we liked was it had handle. Therefore, it could be used even when this friend went out on camping. We of course checked electrical specification whether it could be operated on car’s battery. Apparently it can be, though it will drain the battery a lot, if used too much.
We also checked other things such as convenience for cleaning, and multiple menu options. The company has divided the rice cookers into three types. Everybody is familiar with the voluminous but attractive electrical rice cooker. It simply has no led display, and therefore, it has no menu. At the best this type of rice cooker can keep the rice warm. The rice cooker range that includes microcomputer is larger. You could think of it as a large size beetle smashed flat from top. But don’t worry, it still looks cute. There is one that is bubble gum pink in color. It is shaped like a safe. I am sure her kids would love to operate this one. Anyway, it is a team decision. We also checked the induction type of rice cooker which is said to be the best rice cooker for cooking brown rice. I am not keen on that one, because I don’t eat brown rice.
My family and I love camping at least once in a year and more so, towards the end of the year. We love the fact that camping brings us together and that it brings so much fun and contentment. When we are back from camping, we all feel refreshed and can’t help but look forward to the next year to experience more fun. However, this year’s camping was definitely a blast. My husband and I introduced something new that our girls loved very much- an air bed. Unlike in the past when we would lie on mats at night, we invested in two air beds this year and we are glad we did.
My husband is definitely one in a million. He is always looking for ways to make each camping more wonderful and exciting than the previous ones. A friend of his had recommended an air bed and he was so determined to find a good one on the internet. I remember how excited I was when he told me about it and we started searching on the internet right away. Since I have always depended on product reviews, I decided to read several air bed reviews, to know what to expect at the very least. In the process, one review, I believe the best camping air beds caught my attention. The consumer had used a twin air mattress in exactly the same way we intended to use the Intex air mattress we were going to buy. After reading the whole review, I was sure we wanted to experience the same thing she had experienced with her best friend.
We wanted something that could comfortably accommodate my husband and I and the girls separately. We fit in very well and the nights were amazing- for a moment I forgot that we were in the middle of nowhere. Basically, we experienced comfort, convenience and great relaxation time during the nights that we spent camping. Specifically, the pains and aches that one feels when they wake up in the morning reduced considerably. I don’t know what will be different next year, but in the meantime I am still excited about the events we held during our camping this year.
Being French, I love to cook generally. I was brought up in a family with a good kitchen background. My grandfather owned a restaurant that still runs to date. I believe my love for the kitchen in inherent. One thing I certainly check out from time to time is kitchen knives reviews around the web.
I have been using kitchen knives for as long as I can remember. My first ever touch of a kitchen knife was followed by a gentle tap on my little hands from my mother. Later when I was older and working part-time at the family restaurant, I began learning about kitchen knives seriously. I never understood why every chef who was employed there came with their own kitchen knife. Well, that was until a few years back. After so much searching and consideration, I bought the Togiharu Pro 440 western-style gyotou from Korin.
First, I decided to get this knife because I’m a lefty and they can switch the handle to suit a left handed user for a few extra bucks. All I can say is that the Togiharu 440 exceeded my expectation. No wonder you need to care for the blade like a new born! It’s the best yet most demanding kitchen in the world I guess. The Togiharu 440 is a cross-breed baby and a product of two giant Japanese kitchen knife makers, Korin and Misosno. It features the best of both world. More on Japanese kitchen knives in here.
The carbon steel blade makes this gyotou tougher and sharper (Double edged) with more precise cutting than regular stainless steel kitchen knives. It also maintains the sharpness comparatively longer. The versatility of this top end kitchen knife makes ideal for most cutting and slicing tasks in the kitchen. I use it for both vegetables and meat. The Togiharu is the best knife any western cuisine chef could own since its thin and very light. It is simply the Ferrari of knives.
When I first received my kitchen knife, everything in the kitchen seemed like it was begging to be cut. It’s the kind of knife that makes you want to enroll into a cooking class. The knife came with a wooden saya (sheath) for better storage. This protects the knife’s edge. Caring for the knife is a bit of a hassle (I did not count on it being that much work). You have to clean it immediately after especially after cutting tomatoes or other acidic foods. Leave these juices on your knife overnight and you can start saying goodbye to your knife. You are also not allowed to leave soaking in water for long. I use the oil rag (which also came with the knife) to wipe it after every use. I kind of like it because it makes me look like a professional working on my tools of trade.
If you do not mind the little bit about extra care, then this is the kitchen knife for you. I highly recommend it.
The only thing that would make this amazing knife look bad is your terrible cutting style!
Last month I celebrated my 27th birth day and to my surprise, when I unwrapped gifts the next day one of the gifts was an eye catching cute little bread maker to be used for your personal needs. This bread machine was the gadget, which I was missing earlier in my kitchen.
For the first few days I was so engaged with this new birthday gift sent by Lisa my dearest college in the office, that I tried making different varieties of breads in this gadget. Earlier when I tried making breads everything else was fine, except the temperature which either burnt the bread or sometimes it was under baked. But after getting the bread machine or you can say bread maker, everything was so smooth and unbelievable. The most interesting part of the machine is it regulates required temperature and keeps the heat distributed, which is very much essential for this process. I thanked Lisa for giving me the most essential gadget to be kept in the kitchen.
After getting the machine I spared my few leisure hours to learn best bread making techniques and the most important part, recipes for my medium size bread machine. The recipes are designed according to the capacity of your bread maker; hence I researched the one for 700g unit which is more popular in US. Purchased some packs of premeasured flour along with other essentials, like yeast and conditioners. The measuring jar, I was already having helps me take exact required quantity of water. I had to take little pain in kneading the dough, since in some of the recipes it was advised that handmade dough gives better results.
Next Saturday I called Lisa with her family and we had a homely kitty party, with homemade breads as the special attraction. Lisa’s family really appreciated my efforts of searching for some exclusive varieties of homemade bread. On the plates there were sandwiches made from the American sandwich bread, bacon and cheese Easter bread, Bagels and finally panettone. Making American sandwich bread was not a much difficult task; it’s only the dough you have to take care. But other varieties like the Bagels, Easter bread and panettone requires special bread making skills. But once you master the techniques of making these beautiful varieties, then you are the master chef of your own kitchen. The bread machine gifted by Lisa finally played a great role, while spending our weekend in the most homely atmosphere.
My sewing machine that I’ve had for the best part of fifteen years recently decided to pack in. I was heartbroken, although I really can’t complain as I have used it an awful lot. It was given to me by a friend who no longer needed it, so it didn’t actually cost me anything. But it meant that I was no longer able to make my dresses that I sell online.
I love to sew and make things, and an added bonus is that I can make a little money from my hobby. I therefore knew that I needed to buy another sewing machine, however choosing one was extremely difficult. I had no idea about what machines were currently available and if they would suit my needs, never mind my budget.
The first thing I decided to do was to look up some of the best sewing machine reviews both online and in sewing and craft magazines. My previous sewing machine was a Singer and although I started off looking at this particular brand, I then started to look at other makes such as Brother, Desigino, Janome and Sewers.
I don’t want to influence your choice in any way by telling you the one I opted for. Your choice of sewing machine very much depends upon your budget and how often you will use your machine and what features you will need. For example, will you need the machine for sewing jeans or embroidery? I needed it for seeing mainly linen and cotton. Therefore the materials you will be using and how intricate and detailed the stitching needs to be, will very much influence the type of sewing machine that you will need.
Be sure though to look up the most up to date best sewing machine reviews in order to find the most suitable sewing machine for your needs that is within your chosen budget. Researching what is out there takes a little extra time, but it is well worth the effort.
Where I learn to sew – Universal Class