So what exactly is a “green pan”? A green pan is a piece of cookware (it could be a skillet, a pot, a griddle etc) manufactured with new non-Teflon coatings that are replacing the not so healthy nonstick surfaces of the last 20 years. These materials are considered safer than the more traditional petroleum based nonstick surfaces (aka PTFE / PFOA )
The new nonstick surface has been around for a few years and much has changed since I wrote the original article reviewing green pans.
In order to keep things simple, I will start with the pros, of cooking on a green pan:
Green pans provide a healthy cooking surface, and will not transfer petroleum base particles to the food (have you ever seen a flaky Teflon pan? Scary isn’t it)
They are environmentally manufactured so as to not leave a big footprint on the environment (the other nonstick surfaces are made out of chemicals that are do not break down easily)
All ceramic or silicon coated cookware is safe for humans and animals alike. Most ceramic coatings will not harm birds. Also, ceramic coatings do not contain toxic substances.
There are opinions galore as to whether these pans are good and truly nonstick. The funny thing about it is that there seems to be no “in-betweens”. People either love them or hate them and in my opinion there are many factors to take into consideration. Just scroll down and read my readers’ comments.
Quality matters. Not all ceramic cooking surfaces are created equal. The problem with these new surfaces is that they seem to wear out after several uses. At least that seems to be the problem with some people.
In reality, the only true “con” that I have found is that the surfaces seem to lose the ability to release the food easily.
So if you want to get a green pan (and please pay close attention) you need to be mindful of the following:
- Do not use excessive heat. A ceramic coated pan should be heated to medium heat, unless it is built to withstand a lot of heat such as the Zwilling-JA-Henckels-Spirit -Thermolon-Fry-Pan.
- Always hand wash it. It is not difficult to wash a nonstick pan by hand. The dishwasher detergent eventually wears out the slick surface. Play it safe and wash your pan by hand.
- Buy good quality cookware. Choose tri-ply construction with a thick aluminum interior that will conduct heat evenly and will retain it for continued cooking.
With these few tips in mind, you should be able to satisfy both your culinary needs and your health concerns. Buy a good quality green pan and start cooking!
To your health,
Since the new trend toward more green products, even cookware manufacturers are trying to come up with a solution that is environmentally friendly. This new technology’s goal is to build nonstick cookware without using the chemical PFOA in the manufacturing process. PFOA has been used as a catalyst in the production of PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), which is the basic material all nonstick cookware surfaces. The problem is that although PFOA does not seem to transfer to the food, it is a chemical that is hard to break down in the environment.
Traditional nonstick pans are made of polytetraflouroethylene or PTFE aka Teflon. The problem with PTFE, is when the cookware reaches temperatures of 500 F or more, this otherwise stable and non-toxic chemical will begin to deteriorate. When a nonstick pan has been scratched or overheated , it is very possible that some of the coating ends up in the food we eat. In addition, some of the fumes released by even a new nonstick pan can be lethal to household birds.
The new green pans, are supposed to eliminate these hazards. They use materials such as ceramic and silicone to provide a smooth slick surface. The problem is that the nonstick does not work as well as good old Teflon.
Should you get yourself a green pan?
Think twice before you buy. Tests conducted by America’s Test Kitchen showed that most green pans did not perform as well as the more traditional nonstick finish.
Their main complaint was that more emphasis seems to be made on the nonstick “green” surface than the actual ergonomics. According to their testers: “None of the skillets had a flawless design—if it was the right size, it was too heavy; if it was lightweight and maneuverable, the cooking surface was too small for many recipes”
Some user reviews are reporting about staining and sticking. It seems that the pans are good at the beginning (first few months) but after a while, the food starts to stick to the pan. Perhaps the technology is too new and it needs to be perfected. However that was not the case when Teflon was first used in cookware.