A number of years back when I was looking for a new frypan, a lady in a department store told me that teflon pans were perfectly safe as long as you didn’t heat them any hotter than the temperature water boils at (i.e. 100 ºC). I thought this was a bizarre selling point considering that frypans are generally used for frying where temperatures can reach double that of boiling water. And teflon non-stick frypans have been shown to be potentially toxic. The Neighbourhood Toxicologist has written a number of posts on this issue – maybe it’s best to start here.
So, because I value the health of myself, people who eat my food and the planet, my solution to the non-stick pan dilemma has been to go cast-iron. And, it was love at first use. It heats evenly and cooks beautifully. Food mostly doesn’t stick and on the occasions when it does I just boil some water with a splash of vinegar in it. I have to admit, I’m also not a purist when it comes to cleaning methods. I’ve been known to wash it with dish-soap (shock!) and a gentle scourer (horror!) but it never seems to do any lasting damage to the blackened surface or stop the pan working it’s magic. A light covering in vegetable oil and it’s good to go again. It’s so good that I no longer understand why we all switched to non-stick pans in the first place.
And my current favourite dish to cook in my cast-iron pan? A cafe-style “big breakfast”… for Sunday lunch of course!