Non-Stick Pans - the facts!

Babette shares her experience on the use of non-stick pans and her recommended alternative...

The problem with non-stick pans, whether they are from Ikea or Demeyere, is that the non-stick coating will gradually deteriorate if they are consistently used on too high a heat. Based on my experience of 20 years on the shop floor, it seems most people know that you should not use metal utensils in a non-stick pan, but 95% of people do not know that non-stick pans should not be used on a very high heat. Non-stick pans should not be used with temperatures above 270°C. When you know that oil smokes/burns at 190°C (olive oil) to approx 260°C (sunflower oil) and really should not be used for cooking above this, then you realise how easy it is to overheat it.

 With an Ikea pan you only get one shot – overheat it once and the pan will be ruined.  If you invest in a high quality non-stick pan you have a larger margin for error – you can often overheat it numerous times (depending on how fierce you are with the heat) and the pan will remain effective...but only for so long.  Think of it as a slow death!  And this is the real problem with any non-stick pan – it lets you get away with murder at the beginning and you don’t know that you are gradually destroying the coating.

 Non-stick coatings are either “plastics” based or “ceramic” based.  While the latter resists overheating more effectively neither is completely indestructible and this is why I am such a fan of non-coated Demeyere frying pans.  With these pans if you use too high a heat then you might ruin your food but you won’t ruin your pan.

 I would suggest having 2 types of pans: some without a coating for those cooks who use a lot of heat, and some with non-stick coating to reserve for dishes that generally require less heat such as eggs or fish.  In truth we can all benefit from using less heat when frying anyway - oil and food are better preserved and cleaning is much less hard work.

 The guarantee on Demeyere Stainless steel pans is 30 years and on the non-stick is 5 years but “Against manufacturer’s fault”.

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