Saturday, May 20, 2017

Crafting The Perfect Juice (Using a Juicer OR Blender)

home juicing

Today I want to talk about juicing. When people ask me about healthy cooking and how to incorporate more nutrients into their diet, juicing (either with an Omega Juicer or Vitamix Blender) is one of the things I always suggest first.

Think about it. With just a few ingredients and in no time at all you’re getting all the great nutrients, all the great vitamins, and all the wonderful taste of the garden in a drink. So let me go over you what I do and how I build out a great juice.

The Components of the Perfect Juice

I always like to start with a base. For this I use either celery or cucumber, but it’s up to you. You simply want a watery vegetable. So that’s the first ingredient I’m always going to put in my juicer.

After the base I’m going to go to the meat of the juice, which I like to call the bulk. For this I typically use dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. That’s the meaty base I’m going to put in with the other part of the vegetables and makes for a great start.

After the base, I personally like to finish it off with fruits or vegetables that contain a lot to flavor like carrots or apples. So typical I’ll add some apples, some carrots, or strawberries to my juice, which makes it taste awesome and is a good way to finish it off.

To make your juices last longer, my secret tip is to add some kind of citrus. My favorite fruit for this is grapefruit, but any citrus will work.

Juicer and Blender Tips

One thing you want to look for in a juicer is something that isn’t loud, and something that’s easy to clean. A lot of people will make the mistake of buying a juicer, finding out it’s too loud, and never using it. So do your research beforehand, and make sure that you don’t fall into that group! Blenders can work also work well for this, but they do tend to be much louder.

In our house, we like a good Omega masticating juicer, because they are super simple to put together, very simple to clean, and very quiet.

Fresh Juice Vs. Store Bought

A lot of people ask how making your own juice at home is different than buying a ready-made juice from the store that comes already bottled. The main difference is that you need to use a lot less fruit when you couple it with other vegetables. This means less sugar and more nutrients coming from other sources, as opposed to just straight juice.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kitchen Experiment: How Wild Salmon Differs From Farmed Salmon and the Best Way to Cook It

wild caught salmon compared to farmed salmon

Most home cooks pay close attention to internal temperature when cooking a steak, where know just five degrees means the difference between rare, and medium rare. But few people pay that much attention when dealing with fish, which is really too bad, because even fatty fish like Salmon, can go from tender and moist to chalky, and dry in a flash.

The Experiment

wild vs farmed salmon comparedIn our kitchen, we used an instant read, digital thermometer to tell when Salmon is done. And we’ve always preferred it cooked to 125 degrees, that the ideal balance of firm, yet silky flesh.

The majority of salmon we cook is farmed atlantic, but as we’ve cooked more wild species, we started to wonder if 125 was maybe a bit too high. To find out, we bought multiple filets of the foremost common species of wild pacific salmon. King, also known as Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, and Chum. We cooked samples of each to both 120 degrees, and 125 degrees sou vide, or sealed in a plastic bag, and cooked in a temperature controlled water bath. We also did the same for samples of farmed atlantic salmon.

We then asked tasters, blind to the differences in internal temperature, to pick which sample had the best texture. Everyone preferred the Coho, Sockeye, and Chum samples cooked to 120 degrees. And the farmed atlantic, cooked to 125. While a few folks preferred the King sample at 125 degrees, the majority preferred 120. These results may sound surprising. After all, salmon is salmon right? Well, not exactly.

Conclusion

salmon filletsIt turns out that farmed atlantic salmon differs in two important ways, from the half dozen commercial wild varieties caught in the Pacific ocean. One, due to their sedentary life, the collagen protein in farmed atlantic salmon contains less chemical cross links, than in wild varieties, which translates into softer flesh. And two, farmed atlantic salmon contains more fat than any wild variety, and up to four times as much fat, as the leaner species. We know that fat provides the perception of juiciness when cooked.

So, with naturally firmer flesh, and less fat to provide lubrication, wild salmon can have the texture of overcooked fish, even at 125 degrees. By cooking wild salmon to just 120 degrees, the muscle fibers contract less, and stay moist and tender.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Manual vs. Electric Coffee Grinders: Which is Right for You?

Electric coffee grinderThe coffee you drink is only as good as the grind you make and the difference in taste when you brew a fresh cup of coffee is immeasurable. Then there’s the all-important question every home brewer started with: Manual or electric coffee grinder?

To be able to answer this question, you first need to know what you are looking for from your coffee grinder. How much money are you willing to spend? How much work are you willing to put into brewing your coffee? Do you need an appliance that doesn’t make a lot of noise? Do you want the grinder to achieve a super-espresso grind?

Once you know what you’re looking for you can make a decision. This article explains what the two different types of grinders can offer you and your brew. By the end of it, you should be able to make up your mind and decide on the right grinder to fit your daily coffee ritual.

Manual Grinders

A manual coffee grinder requires a little extra work. You provide the power needed to grind the coffee through winding the swivel arm which grinds up the beans. If you’re looking for a fine grind, you could be spinning away for a while, but a coarser grind isn’t going to be as much work.

Manual grinders are portable and easy to travel with and usually smaller than electric. Meaning if you like your coffee ground to perfection at work, as well as at home, you can take it along with you without a problem.

The price range of manual grinders is also significantly less than electric, leaving you with more money to spend on luxury coffee.

Manual coffee grinder pros

  • Simple
  • Sturdy
  • Consistent
  • Portable
  • Low-priced

Manual coffee grinder cons

  • Require effort
  • Grind size limit
  • Extra labour

Electric Grinders

One word comes to mind when we begin talking about electric grinders, convenience. If you have enough to do in your day and cannot take the time to grind your own coffee beans, then an electric grinder is for you. They are easy to use, just a flip of a switch and a choice of settings and you can let the machine do all the work. You can choose from a variety of coffee grinding sizes.

They do, however, make a little more noise than the manual grinder, so if you are planning on a brew before the kids wake up to sustain your sanity before the day starts, electric grinders may just put a flaw in that plan.

They are usually also more expensive than manual coffee grinders, but the convenience is worth every penny. No elbow-grease required and more time to sit back and enjoy your perfectly ground brew.

Electric coffee grinder pros

  • High performance
  • Convenient
  • Multiple size settings
  • Hard-wearing
  • Long lasting

Electric coffee grinder cons

  • Loud
  • Requires electricity
  • Large
  • Expensive
  • Not easily portable

Think back to what you were looking for in your coffee grinder and filter through the pros and cons provided to make your decision. Go for the manual coffee grinder if you want a great tasting brew and a worthy coffee experience, but you want in on a budget. If you don’t mind a little elbow-grease and want the availability to grind coffee anywhere any place, this is the grinder for you.

If you’re able to invest a decent amount into your coffee experience, then you will want to go for an electric coffee grinder, providing you don’t mind a little noise and are happy leaving the grinder in one place. If you value excellent coffee and want it conveniently then this is the perfect grinder for you.

Whichever process you choose to grind your coffee, you’ll still experience the great taste, flavour and smell of home brewed coffee. When you home brew once, you’ll never go back, so get ready for an exhilarating coffee experience.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Do You Need to Wash Your Quinoa Before You Cook With It?

rinsing quinoa

Quinoa has a high protein content, contains all nine essential amino acids, and cooks up quickly with a firm, satisfying texture. The only real downside to quinoa, some batches can be unpleasantly bitter. This bitterness is due to a concentration of compounds called saponins, and they’re found on the surface of the seed. These saponins repel birds from eating the seed before harvest, which is a good thing, but their mild toxicity can cause stomach distress for some people, and that’s not such a good thing.

The Quinoa Experiment

washing quinoa before cooking itTo get rid of the bitter coating, many brands of quinoa come pre-washed, but not all of them. To find out if pre-washing guarantees less bitter quinoa and if you should still rinse the pre-washed stuff, we ran an experiment. We purchased all available brands of both pre-washed and unwashed white quinoa and rinsed half of each under cool water in a strainer for one minute while leaving the other half un-rinsed. We cooked each sample using 1-3/4 cups water to 1-1/2 cups quinoa and tasted them blind, side by side.

Tasters were asked to write the samples according to level of bitterness. There was no discernible difference in bitterness between pre-washed quinoa that we did not rinse and unwashed quinoa that we did rinse. Both of these samples fell in the middle of the pack in terms of bitterness. The pre-washed quinoa that we rinsed was deemed the least bitter while the unwashed quinoa that we did not rinse was by far the most bitter.

The Verdict

Our results show that making the best tasting quinoa begins at the supermarket where you want to buy brands that are labeled as pre-washed, but your work isn’t done yet. Even pre-washed quinoa benefits from a quick rinse in a fine mesh strainer to produce the least bitter, best tasting pilaf. Happy cooking!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Delicious and Easy 5-Seed Dutch Oven Bread

cooked dutch oven breadWhen it comes to baking at home, it seems that making delicious loaf of bread can be one of the more daunting tasks. Many home chefs never attempt it because it seems like between the exact ingredient measurements to the cooking time required, the chances of nailing the perfect loaf are slim to none.

Well, today we want to change all that! Cooking bread in a dutch oven is surprisingly very easy and there is no kneading or special baking equipment required (If you don’t own one, you can check out our dutch oven comparison reviews). Everything you need you already have around the kitchen! Just use a spoon and a bowl to stir the ingredients together, let the dough rise, and in about 3 hours you will have delicious, hot, and healthy freshly baked bread.

To make this bread extra tasty, we will be adding some seeds for a rich, complex flavor that we are confident you will love. It comes out of the oven with a perfectly thin crust on the outside, while still being softy and spongy on the inside. It makes excellent bread for a sandwich, a hearty breakfast toast or just served up plain with some warm butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100˚F)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 3/4 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 cups better for bread flour, plus extra flour for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted, plus more for top of bread
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted, plus more for top of bread
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

Equipment Needed
Dutch Oven
Parchment Paper

How to Make the Most Delicious 5-Seed Bread

Preparation: Cut the parchment paper into a round shape to fit into the dutch oven. Dust the parchment paper with about 1 tablespoon of cornmeal or semolina and set it off to the side. The dusting is an optional step, but it does and an extra crunch to the crust that’s pretty tasty.

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups warm water, 2 Tbsp honey and 1/2 Tbsp salt until the honey is completely dissolved.
  2. Sprinkle with 3/4 Tbsp yeast.
  3. Let set for approximately 5 minutes
  4. Stir in 3 cups flour and all of the seeds.
  5. Use a spatula to mix until it comes together and seeds are well incorporated (no kneading required).
  6. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and let rest at room temp (70˚F) for 2 hours or until tripled in volume.

After Your Dough Has Risen

Sprinkle dough with flour and use a spatula to fold the dough in half then fold in half again.
Sprinkle generously again with flour and with well-floured hands, lift up the dough and form a ball in your hands. Place over the center of your prepared parchment paper with the folded seam side down.
Place over the center of your prepared parchment paper with the folded seam side down.
Sprinkle the top with extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds if desired.
Let rise uncovered at room temp for 40 minutes.

Baking Your Bread

  1. Place the empty dutch oven and lid inside the oven and preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  2. Once preheated, remove dutch oven and place on the stove.
  3. Lift bread with the parchment paper and set it in the center of your hot dutch oven.
  4. Cover with lid and bake at 450˚F for 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove hot lid and bake another 2- 5 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  6. Remove bread from dutch oven with the help of parchment paper and place bread directly on wire rack to cool until it’s nearly room temperature before slicing into it.

This dutch oven bread is a staple in our home and I hope you’ll come to love it as much as my family does.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

12 Creative Cooking Hacks that Will Make You Cook Like a Pro

Once you get a good grip on the foundations of cooking, you realize there is no need for you to keep that cookbook handy. After all, cooking becomes second nature to you, regardless of whatever dish you’re preparing. Admit or not, we all need express kitchen karate skills – as there is no better joy than drooling over a tasty meal over dinner. Whether you were born a cooking master, or just skilled by practice or interest, you need some tricks to add a little fire to your game.

Check out these cooking hacks that will change the way you cook, and probably even leverage your skills to wow your family and friends.

1. Grill fish in a bed of lemons.

Grilling is an all-time favourite outdoor experience. Whether you are somewhere at the beach or having a nice backyard family bonding, it’s quite impressive to cook meat over a bed of lemons so as to avoid getting the flesh stuck to the grill and being torn apart. Save yourself from a unwanted load of cooking disasters and excite your guests with a cool zesty flavour of grilled succulent fish.

2. Wrap your bottles of soda and beer with wet paper towel to cool them faster.

The party isn’t complete without a few good drinks, so you might need to grab some bottles of soda before it ends. Take your wet paper towels to the rescue! Use them to wrap your bottles before dumping them to the fridge to cool them faster than the speed of light!

3. Keep your greens fresh by puffing some air.

Are salad greens your favourite? Keep them fresh and prevent them from getting soggy by storing them in a plastic container and blowing some air inside. Twist the top and tie it close with a rubber band. The secret? Spell C-O-2.

4. Wear gloves when mixing meat.

Save water and time. Wearing gloves when mixing meat makes hand washing a lot less frequent.

5. Anchor your cutting board.

A sliding anchor board is such a hassle. Prevent this from happening by placing wet and textured paper towel beneath. Chopping has never been faster and easier. You can even use the wrung out paper towel to clean the counter when you’re done.

6. Peel ginger with a spoon.

Every person who’s been in the kitchen at least once knows how hard it is to peel fresh ginger with a lot of nooks and crannies. Just use a regular spoon to peel and mince it.

7. Partially freeze your raw and slippery chicken.

Firm up the meat right before working with it. Place your raw chicken in the freezer for around 15 minutes. This helps the meat to become less slippery and easier to cut into thin slices.

8. Use two plates to slice cherry tomatoes at once.

Cutting tomatoes in half can be a tedious task and a slow process. Do it at once by holding them in place between two plates or plastic container lids, then slice them in a horizontal fashion through the opening. Remember to use a sharp knife when doing so.

9. Revive your stale bread.

Run your loaf of bread through some water and pop it in the oven for around 10 minutes. It will make the bread just as fresh and crunchy as a newly-baked one.

10. Use dental floss to make quick and precise cuts.

If you don’t have a knife large enough to cut mushy treats like cakes and pastries, avoid mess by using dental floss to cut them out precisely. This is also ideal for Swiss rolls and cheese.

11. Keep ice cream soft by locking them inside a Ziplock bag.

Ice cream in containers can get super hard when stored in the freezer. Keep them as soft as when you first bought it by placing the container inside a ziplock bag before storing it in the freezer.

12. Use pasta water to even out sauce consistency.

Save the last half-cup of water used to boil your pasta to improve the texture of your sauce. After draining, mix the liquid to your stodgy or thick sauce to thin it and even out the consistency.

Cooking is much more enjoyable when you have some sturdy little tricks in mind. It’s not just a matter of skill after all, but also a mix of creativity and good logic. Cook in style. Be the pro you want to be. Apply these hacks and you’ll never cook the same way again.

Mumsy & Bub is an Australian-based community of mothers who aim to inspire and educate mothers about the ups and downs, and in-betweens of motherhood. Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for exciting news and updates. You may also send them an email at info@mumsyandbub.com.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Best Non-Stick Cookware Sets – Top 5 Reviewed and Buying Guide

Non-stick cookware is the unsung hero of the kitchen. It’s one of those pieces of cooking equipment that you can easily take for granted until you deal with a pan that has lost its coating and you’re forced to wrestle with the bits and chunks of food left behind in the pan, ruining your otherwise flawlessly cooked dish. I use my non-stick pans almost daily, and reach for them when I’ll be cooking more delicate foods that have a tendency to stick like eggs or a nice white fish. And even though a nice wok is preferable, I have been known to whip out my trusty non-stick cookware when preparing stir-fry because the bits don’t stick to the pan and I’m not left with burnt pieces in my food. Not to mention that when food doesn’t burn into a pan, it also means that cleaning it will be a much easier and take less of your valuable time.

I also love non-stick cookware because it means that I only need to use a very small amount of extra oil when cooking, and when I’m trying to cook healthier, this is invaluable. There are a ton of non-stick cookware sets out there, many of them not so great in terms of durability and quality, so we set out to find the best buys for your money. Also, as the convenience of non-stick cookware has become more and more a part of the home cooking standard, many different types of non-stick surfaces have hit the market. In this guide, we clarify not only what the differences are, but also which is the best one for your kitchen.

A hot topic in recent years is the debate the health effects of non-stick surfaces. Our goal with this review guide is to not only provide you with the best non-stick cookware sets, but to also educate our readers so they have the information they need to make informed choices. If you just want to check out the reviews, you can find those immediately below. But if you want to know more about what to look for when buying, what to avoid and also what you need to know about non-stick cookware surfaces in general, check out our buying guide after the reviews.


Rachael Ray Cucina Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set

Rachel Ray’s Cucina Non-stick Cookware Set features hard-anodized aluminum pans coated with the triple-layered Eclipse nonstick coating system manufactured by Whitford. The first, basecoat layer contains reinforcing elements that include resins and “unusually hard materials.” The second layer contains more reinforcing materials, and the third, espresso-colored topcoat layer consists of PTFE or Teflon. This set, however, is manufactured without the use of PFOA.

It includes a 1-quart and 2-quart saucepan, an 8 ½” and a 10” skillet, a 6-quart stockpot, and a 3-quart sauté pan, and glass lids for everything except the skillets. The set also includes two slotted, nylon, cranberry red cooking utensils – a spatula and a ladle-shaped spoon. The cookware handles are made of stainless steel coated with cranberry red silicone, and two rivets secure each handle. The sauté pan also features and extremely convenient helper handle. The handles on the lids have a high arch to help avoid burns from contact with hot glass. The set is dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 400°F, and the pans can be used on gas, electric, glass, ceramic, and halogen cooktops but require an induction disc for use on induction cooktops.

Pros

  • Has a PFOA-free triple-layered non-stick coating with two layers of reinforcing materials for increased durability.
    Contains two saucepans, two skillets, a stockpot, a sauté pan, slotted nylon cooking utensils, and glass lids for everything except the skillets.
    Has stainless steel handles coated with silicone that are securely attached by two rivets.
    Is dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 400°F.
    Can be used on gas, electric, glass, ceramic, and halogen cooktops.

Cons

  • Cannot be used on induction cooktops without an induction disc.
    Has a PTFE- or Teflon-based non-stick coating.

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized 17 Piece Set

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized Cookware Set also features hard-anodized aluminum pans, but this set is coated with Whitford’s titanium-enforced, silicon-based QuanTanium coating. That means that it is both PFOA and PTFE free. Cuisinart states no oil or butter is needed for cooking in their Chef’s Classic set. The set includes a 1, 2 and 3-quart saucepan, an 8” and a 10” skillet, a 3.5-quart sauté pan with helper handle, a 4-quart Dutch oven, and an 8-quart stockpot with glass lids for everything except the skillets.

The set also includes a 20 cm uncoated steamer insert with a cover. The tight fitting lids seal in moisture, nutrients, and flavor. The stainless steel handles are secured with two rivets each. The pans feature drip-free rims and are oven safe up to 500°F, but they are not dishwasher safe. Also, although Cuisinart says that it is safe to use metal utensils with these pans, we recommend extending their life by staying with nonmetal utensils. While these pans can be used on gas, electric, glass, ceramic, and halogen cooktops, they require an induction disk for use on induction cooktops.

Pros

  • Uses Whitford’s silicon-based, titanium-hardened, PFOA and PTFE free QuanTanium coating.
    Provides a very complete set including three saucepans, two skillets, a Dutch oven, a sauté pan with helper handle, a stockpot, and a steamer insert with glass lids for everything except the skillets.
    Features drip-proof rims on the pans.
    Is oven safe up to 500°F.
    Can be used on gas, electric, ceramic, glass, and halogen cooktops.

Cons

  • Is not dishwasher safe.
    Should not be used with metal utensils.
    Requires an induction disk for use with an induction cooktop.

T-fal Ultimate Hard Titanium Non-stick PFOA Free 12-Piece Cookware Set

The T-Fal E765SC 12-Piece Ultimate Cookware Set uses titanium to strengthen the non-stick PTFE interior, but the Thermo-Spot heat indicator is designed to prevent overheating. When the dot becomes a solid red, the pan is properly preheated. The pans are made of hard-anodized aluminum and feature TechnoResist Anti-Warp bases. It contains a 1, 2, and 3 quart saucepan, an 8” and a 10 ¼” skillet, and a 5-quart Dutch oven with lids for the saucepans and the Dutch Oven. It also includes two nylon utensils – a slotted spatula and a solid spoon. The silicone handles are securely attached by two rivets each. The tempered and vented glass lids seal in moisture and nutrients.

T-Fal says the set is safe for daily dishwasher washing and that it can be used with metal utensils. Nevertheless, we recommend hand washing and nonmetallic utensils. The pans are oven safe up to 400°F, and the lids are oven safe to 350°F. The set can be used on gas, electric, glass, ceramic, and halogen cooktops, but requires an induction disk for use on an induction cooktop. The set is PFOA, cadmium, and lead free.

Pros

  • Features TechnoResist AntiWarp bases on the pans.
    Includes the ThermoSpot heat indicator to guard against overheating the pans.
    Provides vents on the tempered glass lids for releasing steam before lifting the lid when cooking is done.
    Is dishwasher safe.
    Can be used with metal utensils.
    Is PFOA, cadmium, and lead free.
    Is oven safe up to 400°F for the pans and 350°F for the lids.

Cons

  • Uses a Teflon-based non-stick coating.
    Requires an induction disk for use on an induction cooktop.

Rachael Ray 14 Piece Hard Enamel Non-stick Cookware Set

Rachael Ray’s 14 Piece Hard Enamel Non-stick Cookware Set in marine blue features a colorful, porcelain enamel exterior over a hard-anodized aluminum pan, but all of Rachel Ray’s cookware is coated with Whitford’s triple-layered, PTFE-based Eclipse non-stick system. The coating is PFOA-free, however. The set includes a 1 and 2 quart saucepan, an 8 ½” and 10” skillet, a 3-quart sauté pan, a 6-quart stockpot; lids for every pan except the skillets; an Oven Lovin’ Crispy Sheet for roasting and baking; a Spoonula, a combination spoon and spatula that helps remove the last tasty bit of food from the pan; a slotted Lil’ Devil Turner; and a Lazy Spoon with a slot in the handle that allows you to hook it to the rim of the cookware and keep drips from the spoon in the pan.

The silicone handles on the pans and baking sheet stay cool, and the shatter-resistant glass lids lock in heat, moisture, and nutrients. The handles on the pans are securely attached with two rivets each, and they are oven safe up to 350°F. These pans can be used on electric, gas, glass, and ceramic cooktops, but require an induction disk for use on induction cooktops. The set is not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed.

Pros

  • Uses Whitford’s durable, three-layered Eclipse non-stick coating system.
    Includes the Oven Lovin’ Crispy Sheet for baking and roasting.
    Includes the Lazy Spoon that hooks to the edge of the pan to prevent drips.
    Can be used on electric, gas, ceramic, glass, and halogen cooktops.
    Is PFOA-free.

Cons

  • Uses a PTFE-based non-stick coating.
    Requires an induction disk for use on induction cooktops.
    Is not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed.

Simply Calphalon Non-stick 10 Piece Cookware Set

The Simply Calphalon Non-stick 10 Piece Cookware Set consists of hard-anodized aluminum pans, and are double-coated with a non-stick coating that, according to TheKitchen.com, is PTFE-based. The coating is PFOA-free, however. The set includes a 2- and a 4-quart saucepan, a 10” and a 12” omelet pan, a 3-quart sauté pan with a helper handle, and a 6-quart stockpot with tempered glass lids for everything except the omelet pans.

The silicone handles are securely attached with two rivets each. The set is oven safe up to 400°F. Although Calphalon says that the set is dishwasher safe, we recommend hand washing. You should not use metal utensils with this set, but you can use it on electric, gas, ceramic, glass, and halogen cooktops. You will need an induction disk to use it on induction cooktops.

Pros

  • Is PFOA-free.
    Includes 2 saucepans, 2 omelet pans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot with tempered glass lids for everything except the omelet pans.
    Is oven safe up to 400°F.
    Can be used electric, gas, ceramic, glass, and halogen cooktops.

Cons

  • Has a PTFE-based non-stick coating.
    Should not be used with metal utensils.
    Should be hand washed.
    Requires an induction disk for use on induction cooktops.

What to Look for When Purchasing Non-stick Cookware

First, you should look for the same things you would look for when purchasing any type of cookware. If you are purchasing your non-stick cookware in a store, you can and should pick it up to judge the weight. Move the pieces around by the handles as you would if you were cooking with them to judge how well balanced the pieces are. If you are buying online, look for some indication of the thickness or gauge of the walls and bottom of the pan. Heavier pieces with thick walls retain and distribute heat better than lighter weight pieces, and they allow you to cook at lower temperatures. That saves energy and saves you money over time.

The lids should fit tightly, which also helps retain heat as well as retaining moisture and nutrients. Glass lids are convenient because you can observe the food while its cooking without removing the lid and losing heat and steam. Whether welded or riveted, the handles should be attached securely in several places. Riveted handles provide more nooks for food residue to collect; welded handles aid easy cleanups. Heat-resistant handles will stay cooler while you are cooking.

What to Look for in Non-stick Coatings

You will find non-stick coatings on stainless steel and anodized aluminum. These coatings include Teflon, diamond-coated Teflon, thermolon, ceramic, and porcelain enamel. Cookware manufactured by the French company Tefal, which sells in the United States under the T-Fal label, also uses Teflon. Non-stick cast iron cookware comes with ceramic coatings.

Teflon, T-Fal, and Classic Non-stick Coatings

Concerns about Teflon are long-standing. Some are unfounded, but others are accurate.

Until 2015, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was used during the manufacture of Teflon-coated cookware to cause the coating to adhere to the pan. That chemical is associated with the appearance of thyroid problems, tumors, and developmental problems in animals and may be a human carcinogen. Eight manufacturers, including DuPont, the company that created Teflon, signed an agreement with the EPA to phase out the use of that chemical by 2015.

However, PFOA appears to be more of a concern for those involved in the manufacturing process, and, possibly, those who live near one of the factories where PFOA was used. PFOA is only present during the manufacturing process and is not present in the cookware and PFOA burns off during the manufacturing process. Therefore, using Teflon cookware, even that manufactured before 2015, will not expose you to PFOA.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the chemical name for Teflon an is a fluoropolymer, and that compounds such as PTFE that contain fluorine are generally toxic. When used at the recommended low temperatures, Teflon, or PTFE, is safe. However, at temperatures above 500°F, PTFE begins to break down at the molecular level, which is invisible to the human eye. In the process, it begins to release fragments of its chemical components.

A study by the nonprofit watchdog organization, the Environmental Working Group, found that at temperatures above 680°F PTFE emits at least six toxic gases, two of which are carcinogens. However, it is unlikely anyone would inhale enough of those gases to become ill while cooking in an open area like a kitchen where the fumes would dissipate rather than become concentrated, especially if you use the vent fan above your cooktop. However, results from studies regarding the long-term effects of exposure to overheated Teflon pans have not yet been collected.

To learn how quickly Teflon pans reach 500°F, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute used pans of three weights – 1 lb., 3oz.; 2 lbs., 1 oz.; and 2 lbs., 9 oz. – to prepare five dishes – scrambled eggs, chicken and pepper stir fry, bacon, hamburgers, and steak. While the pans remained within the safe temperature ranges during the preparation of the scrambled eggs, stir fry, and bacon, with the medium-weight pan reaching 465°F in 5 ½ minutes as the bacon fried, other activities were risky. Preheating the empty lightweight pan for 1 ¾ minutes raised its temperature to 507°F. Preheating two tablespoons of oil in the lightweight pan for 2 ½ minutes raised its temperature to 514°F. Frying the hamburgers for 8 ½ minutes in the heavy-weight pan raised its temperature to 577°F. Frying the steaks in the lightweight pan for 10 minutes raised its temperature to 656°F. This was the only test that brought the temperature of the pan above 600°F.

However, classic Teflon coated pans cook meats in their own juices and do not brown or sear meats as well as uncoated cookware does. So, these pans are not the best choice for frying thick patties or cuts of meat. However, the medium-weight and heavy-weight pans appear to have been safer than the lightweight pan in this limited test. If you intend to use Teflon-coated pans for all-around, general purpose cooking, we recommend purchasing the heaviest weight pans that you can afford.

DuPont sets the maximum safe temperature for Teflon pans at 500°F, and DuPont and other manufacturers regard use at temperatures above that limit to be abuse of the cookware, which would likely void any warranty. So, when using Teflon cookware, we strongly recommend that you read the manufacturer’s instructions and stay below the manufacturer’s recommended temperature limits.

Industrial Diamond Coated PTFE (Teflon)

One company, Swiss Diamond, mixes miniscule industrial-grade diamonds into the PTFE coating for their pans to create a harder, more scratch-resistant surface. Nevertheless, Swiss Diamond states on their website that neither sharp or pointed utensils should be used with their cookware, and metal utensils should also be avoided. According to the manufacturer, it is also safe to put them in the dishwasher or in the oven up to 500°F. However, Swiss Diamond also recommends washing their cookware by hand and using only low to medium heat settings on cooktops.

Thermolon and Ceramic Non-stick Coatings

Thermolon is a ceramic, non-stick coating created by Greenpan to be 100 percent PFOA- and PTFE-free. The coating is made with silicon, not silicone. Silicon is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-gray sheen which it confers upon Thermolon coating.

Other ceramic coatings also use silicates like silicon, and some use titanium.

Greenpan claims that they release 60 percent fewer greenhouses gases during the manufacture of Thermolon-coated cookware than would be released during the manufacture of Teflon-coated cookware because Thermolon cures more quickly than Teflon, and it cures at a lower temperature than Teflon.

Silicates have the same crystalline structure that makes it easy for a jeweler to create facets in diamonds. This characteristic leaves ceramic coatings vulnerable to impacts and chipping. So, as with Teflon, you should not use metal utensils in pans with ceramic coatings, and don’t tap utensils on the edge of the pan. In addition, repeated cycles of heating and cooling can cause ceramic coatings to lose their non-stick quality. You can partially restore the non-stick quality by occasionally cleaning the coating with a mild abrasive like baking soda. Ceramic coatings can breakdown and release gases, as Teflon does, but they do not do so until they are heated to temperatures of 850°F or higher. Still, keep temperatures below 500°F, because higher temperatures age the coating more quickly, speeding the loss of its non-stick quality.

Porcelain Enamel

This coating turns to glass as it is baked, or fired, onto the pans. It is PFOA and PTFE free and will not scratch, but it is vulnerable to chipping. So, again, you should avoid metal utensils when cooking with porcelain enamel pans, and you should avoid tapping any utensil on the edge of the pan. You also should avoid abrasive cleaners like scouring powder or steel wool. If needed, use a plastic scouring pad instead. Cookware that has the exterior coated with porcelain enamel is generally light in weight and easy to handle. It also comes in a range of colors and even two-tone gradients of colors. Porcelain enamel coated cookware can be used on cooktops, and it is oven safe up to 350°F. The manufacturing process used to create porcelain enamel and ceramic non-stick cookware is environmentally friendly.

Do Your Research

In writing this review, we discovered that cookware manufacturers and brands may provide only minimal information about the non-stick component in their non-stick coatings. If you would like more information about the coatings manufactured by Whitford, the company provides an online Housewares Coating Guide.

Advantages of the Best Non-Stick Cookware

All non-stick cookware makes cleanup faster. It also reduces the chances of scorching sauces, although, with enough ensuing distractions, it can be happen. The non-stick surface also makes it easy to slide foods like pancakes, omelets, and fried eggs right out of the pan. With a non-stick surface, you also can use less oil when you’re cooking. That is a great health-related benefit.

Disadvantages of Non-Stick Cookware

Because the non-stick surface is a coating, all non-stick cookware shares an issue with durability. Although diamond-encrusted PTFE–coatings are harder, other Teflon- or PTFE-based coatings are soft, and subject to scratching and eventual wear. Silicate-based coatings, such as Thermolon, ceramic, and porcelain enamel coatings, are hard but brittle and prone to chipping due to the crystalline structure of their silicate base. While metal utensils can scratch PTFE-based coatings and cause them to begin to flake, they can chip silicate-based coatings. While manufacturers of some non-stick cookware say that their products can be placed in the dishwasher, all recommend hand washing as the preferred cleaning method.

Compared to the long life-spans of uncoated cookware, DuPont recommends that you replace Teflon-coated cookware that has received moderate use every three to five years, even when it has received proper care. Teflon-coated cookware that has received heavier use should be replaced every two years.

Also, as previously mentioned, heating Teflon/PTFE-based coatings above 500°F causes them to begin to breakdown at the molecular level. At 660°F, these coatings release fumes that can kill pet birds and cause a temporary flu-like condition called polymer-fume fever in humans. At temperatures above 680°F, Teflon-based coatings begin to emit toxic gases. However, DuPont has set the maximum safe temperature for Teflon-based coatings at 500°F, and the manufacturers of Teflon-coated cookware regard use above those temperatures as abuse of the cookware.

While overheating silicate-based cookware has less serious consequences, repeated cycles of heating and cooling does cause the coating to lose its non-stick properties. As with Teflon-based coatings, the manufacturers of silicate-based coatings rate the cookware as safe only up to temperatures of 500°F and recommend the use of only low to moderate temperatures on cooktops.

How to Maintain Your Non-Stick Cookware

When using a cooktop, do not preheat Teflon cookware, and use no higher than medium temperatures for preheating silicate-based cookware. Do not use non-stick cookware at temperatures above 500°F. Set cooktops only to low or moderate temperatures when using any type of non-stick cookware. Avoid metal utensils and sharp or pointed utensils, and do not tap utensils on the edge of silicate-based cookware. Hand wash your non-stick cookware. You may use a mildly abrasive cleaner, such as baking powder, to help restore some of the non-stick properties of ceramic-coated cookware.

The post The Best Non-Stick Cookware Sets – Top 5 Reviewed and Buying Guide appeared first on Miss Mamies Cupcakes.



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