Cooking has exploded. It has become an extremely popular pastime. Cooking competition shows have soared in popularity and don’t look to be trending downwards any time soon.
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People are cooking more meals at home and eating out less frequently. In fact, a surge in cooking parties has occurred, where hosts invite guests over for their own in-home versions of Iron Chef, Chopped, and more, challenging their guests to each bring a mystery ingredient and allowing specific guests to compete against each other making the meal for everyone based on the collection of ingredients that were brought.
Because of this, the cookware industry has also seen a rise in sales. More and more companies are offering pots, pans, knives, and gadgets; each one insists that their products are must have items for every kitchen. Teflon and Calphalon have become household names, and everyone covets those Henckel and Wusthof knives.
How do you know whether the products are actually good? One way to cut through the crowded competition is to make sure that you purchase eco friendly pots and pans for your home. These products are better for the environment and healthier for consumers.
I’ve developed this guide to help you learn about what it means to have eco friendly cookware and look at some of the best options on the market today.
What Makes Cookware Eco Friendly?
There are a lot of different factors that go into making cookware eco friendly. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones below.
The Lining of Pans
A lot of pans have linings in them to make them easier to clean. They call this non-stick cookware, and it’s a great feature to have. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are not very responsible with their materials when they create these pans.
You want to avoid perfluoroctanoic acids (PFOAs) and perfluoroctane sulfonates (PFOs) in your cookware. These chemicals will cause serious health problems and they are terrible for the environment.
Fortunately today, manufacturers make many great non-stick options that are better for the environment.
Ceramic is used pretty regularly in cooking these days, and it is naturally non-stick material. It has been popular in baking for a long time because of its ability to withstand a massive amount of heat and is now coming into its own in the cooking industry as well. The downside to ceramic is that it is extremely heavy and chips very easily.
Some trusted brands include Zwilling’s Ceraforce, Green Pan’s Thermolon, and Cuisinart’s Ceramica. Look for brands free of PTFEs, PFOAs and PFOs and you should be golden.
Sustainable Materials in Eco Friendly Cookware
Aside from the lining, the materials themselves need to be considered. Most people throw their old pans in the garbage, but this is not good for the environment. The pans need to be taken to metal scrap yards to be properly broken down and recycled. To avoid this hassle, try buying sustainable materials with your cookware.
Safest Cookware Material
Stone cookware is probably the oldest form of cookware available. Its most popular modern use is in pizza ovens, for that stone-fired pizza perfection. However, this is not the only thing you can cook on stone!
More and more companies have been making cookware from lead-free, cadmium-free, toxin-free clay. This is called stoneware, and it goes through a furnace at around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit to be properly formed.
It is much healthier, it cooks much more evenly, and it is extremely durable and won’t wear out as quickly. It can crack or break when dropped, but if you use caution these sets will last for generations.
Like stone, ceramic is extremely durable and eco friendly. It can withstand large amounts of heat and is non-stick coated. The ceramic coating is bonded to the rest of the pot to make sure that your surface is non-stick and eliminates the need for sprays like Pam. They are also non-toxic, which makes them safe to use even when chipped, and easy to clean.
Unfortunately, ceramic isn’t as durable as options like stone, stainless steel, and cast iron, so they may not be the best choice for everyone. They are extremely popular for baking.
The eco friendliness of metal cookware depends largely on the type you are using. In general, these are the least eco friendly options available, as they need to be properly recycled and tend to wear out quickly.
Cast iron is one of my favorite types of metal cookware, and it is actually extremely eco friendly because of its longevity. It evenly distributes heat for better cooking and lasts for generations when properly cared for.
Most old-school cooks will consider it blasphemy to wash cast iron pans in soap and water, as over time the iron will begin absorbing flavors and seasoning. This is why you can often get a special, indistinguishable flavor that just can’t be replicated when you move from an old cast iron pan into another type to bake the same recipe.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel pots and pans are a warning zone. Many of them have made efforts to become more eco friendly, but this is also where a lot of companies have snuck in their toxic non-stick coats. These are great for everyday cooking, easy to clean, and you can scratch at them all you want without destroying them. The downside is that if you want to keep them eco friendly, you won’t find very many of them with non-stick coating that matches the requirement.
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Life Expectancy of Eco Friendly Cookware
The last factor in eco friendly cookware is longevity. Naturally, it is better for the environment to have durable products that don’t need to be constantly replaced.
Things like cast iron and stone are amazing. If you take proper care of them, they can be passed down from generation to generation without ever needing to be replaced.
Most of your metal cookware fit somewhere in the middle range, with stainless steel and copper topping the list after cast iron, and carbon steel and aluminum coming up last. Ceramic is also near the bottom of the pack, wearing out quickly when used too often.
Recommended Eco Friendly Cookware
Now that we’ve looked into eco friendly products, I want to recommend a few great sets for you.
GreenPan makes some fabulous ceramic cookware sets. All of their cookware is non-stick, non-toxic and coated with their ceramic, sand based Thermolon.
Their products have no lead, cadmium, or POAs and they won’t release toxins if they’re overheated. This company even has green production, caring for the environment with both products and manufacturing!
Ozeri makes some great stone cookware. Their Stone Earth pans are all coated with stone derived non-stick coatings and their Green Earth pans use non-toxic Greblon coating, a time tested ceramic-based, scratch-resistant cooking material. Their pans can withstand over 450 degrees of heat.
Lodge Seasoned Bundle
For shoppers on a budget who still want to be kind to the environment, you can’t go wrong with a good cast iron set such as Lodge. Be prepared to clean these differently than you would your other cookware, but if you’re good to them they will last for several generations. In fact, food will cook more evenly and flavor will become baked in overtime. Most people who begin using cast iron swear by it and never look back!
Be kind to the environment and yourself. When cooking in your kitchen, it is best to use eco friendly cookware.