Nonstick fry pans are convenient to use and easy to clean, but they can pose health risks when used incorrectly. Enamel-coated cast-iron fry pans are a good alternative to Teflon-coated pans, but they are more expensive. Weigh the risks, your cooking style and your budget before deciding which type of frying pan to purchase.
Benefits of Teflon
Teflon is a proprietary coating developed by DuPont in 1938. It prevents most foods from sticking to your frying pan, so you can fry with little or no fat. Its ability to prevent food from sticking also makes it easier to clean than a standard pan.
Drawbacks of Teflon
Teflon-coated nonstick pans are designed to be used at low and medium temperatures. They should not be used above 500 degrees Fahrenheit or heated empty for long periods of time. If a nonstick pan coated with Teflon exceeds 660 F, it can degrade and give off harmful fumes. An empty pan left on the stove over high heat can exceed this threshold.
Enamel-Coated Fry Pans
Porcelain enamel coating for cookware was originally developed in the early 1800s. Enamel-coated frying pans available today are made of either cast-iron or stainless steel. The enamel coating gives these pans a durable finish that resists sticking. The coating process is done at extremely high temperatures, making these pans ideal for cooking techniques that require temperatures above 500 F.
Deciding Which to Use
Enamel-coated frying pans are generally more expensive than Teflon-coated pans. They are designed to withstand higher temperatures than Teflon-coated nonstick pans, but are less reliably nonstick. Very few foods will stick to a Teflon-coated pan, regardless of how they are cooked. Enamel pans resist sticking, but certain foods will stick, especially if the enamel coating chips or is scratched. When deciding which type of pan to use, consider your budget and whether you use high-temperature cooking methods frequently.
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