- madonna May 31, 2005 11:02 PM
I inherited a Healthcraft electric " waterless" non-stick skillet. I really love it. It's very easy to clean. It is somewhat non-stick without having to worry about all the side effects and noxious gases related to teflon. It cooks more evenly and faster then any cookware I have used. I also have used my mom's healthcraft saucepan and put it to the test. I meausred and boiled the same amount of water side by side on the same stove top, and the Healthcraft saucepan boiled much faster as the demonstraters had claimed.
I have several questions:
#1) If these pots are as great as I have found them to be, how come I have not seen any professional chefs use them? or any cooking stores such as Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma sell them?
#2) I did a little research on the net about waterless cookware. I found out that there were about 10 different kinds or more of waterless cookware, similiar to the Healthcraft such as Cutco, etc. Many of these brands are much less expensive then the Healthcraft. Does anyone have any experience with the other brands? Do they compare?
#3) I also noticed they sell bakeware and knives, Does anyone have any experience with these?
It is really hard to find reviews on these products because they are only sold at demonstrations at home or in conventions, expos, not in stores. They are so pricey, so I would like to know if its worth the investment. How do they compare to the profeesional french copper professional grade cookware? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Since you have posted about this stuff before, you must really want to know. Basically all good heavy weight cookware is waterless cookware. It is no better than All Clad, Calphalon, or any other of the high end stainless cookware. Quite frankly it may be on a par with Revereware or Farberware which are also but are just not quite a trendy. I rmemeber a room mate who got suckered into buying some of the pans you are asking about many years ago. The pans would develop a vapor lock and you could not remove the lid until the pan and the contents had cooled. Not always a good thing. One time we were able to get a screwdriver under the rim and pop it open it dented the rim a bit but that one never developed vaopr lock again
In essence, there is no need to spend that amount of money for pots and pans unless you just want to. There are equally good pots and pans on the open market and they even show up at bargain prices in TJ Maxx, Marshall's and on Amazon.
AS for Teflon giving of noxious gasses, that is pretty much a myth. The nonstick coatings have come a long way in the past 40 years. And if that were true they would have been pulled from the market years ago.
re: kc girl
There are a bunch of reports about how non-stick coating on pans can kill certain birds. However, those reports are based on heating the cr@p out of an empty pan (key word here is "EMPTY". That excessive heat creates noxious fumes that can kill birds. Having said that, birds are generally more sensitive to toxic substances in the air. You've heard of the "canary in a coal mine" theory, where back in the day, miners would bring a caged canary with them. If the canary showed signs of distress (or died), the air was not safe for the miners and they would close that shaft.
High heat and non-stick coatings don't play nice in the sandbox together. Keep in mind the coating was applied at high heat (something like 1200 degrees) and will degrade at higher temperatures. There is a group of people who say the same thing about self-cleaning ovens (fumes will kill birds, etc). If you use a little fat in your pan and don't try to apply high heat to the pan, all's well. All you have to do is apply common sense. Keep the bird out of the kitchen while cooking, unless you're cooking the bird.
Just in case you're curious about how I know all this, I've have a cockatiel for almost 19 years and have used non-stick cookware the whole time.
re: Dee S
Hi, Dee: "...miners would bring a caged canary with them. If the canary showed signs of distress (or died), the air was not safe..."
You're not exactly proving your case here. Is your cockatiel caged in the kitchen? If so, have you ever seared in or preheated a new(ish) PTFE-lined pan? How often do you cook in PTFE, and how often do you replace the pans?
Everyone seems to have an unshakable opinion about non-stick's safety. Some think it's perfectly safe and tout the absence of peer-reviewed scientific studies to the contrary as evidence of safety (Consider the absurdity of taking absence of evidence for evidence of absence!). Others have decided, also in the absence of evidence, that all "alphabet soup" chemicals in contact with their foods and inside their bodies are dangerous.
The surprising truth of the matter is that there are relatively few scientific studies on this at all, fewer yet that are recent (i.e., which have taken advantage of advances in analytical equipment, techniques and sensitivities), and NONE that I can find that address long-term human exposure to cooking on nonstick, eating and breathing whatever it leaches or off-gasses.
Personally, I'm more on the side of kc girl or the subgroup that would put the burden of proof on the other side. I have one Swiss Diamond pan, but whenever I reach for it, my mind flashes to that 1950s print ad of smiling doctors swearing that cigarettes are safe and fun. Consequently, I now only use that pan to fry an occasional egg--with a mild shudder.
My canary's cage is kept as far from my kitchen as is possible and still be in my house.
Just for the record, my Mother-in-law kept her canary in her kitchen and she didn't own non-stick PTFE coated cookware, and her canary died. Evidently death among caged song birds is a relatively common thing.
You're correct, there isn't a lot of evidence really one way or the other, and frankly with most of the studies like these there are conflicting results. One study says eat this food, another study says don't eat this food. Being a scientist, I feel I have free reign to be judgemental of the studies. Studies like these are expensive, time consumming, expensive, typically devoid of a control group of humans (who afterall wants to be in the exposed group if you don't already know the answer), expensive, and did I mention expensive. Until there are people or canarys droping dead in kitchens across the country, you're likely not going to get more studies.
My opinion, you are more likely to be injured or killed by a texting driver than you are from the fumes from a PTFE pan under normal cooking conditions. Same goes for your bird. On the other hand, if you're one of those that can melt the bottom on their Le Crueset, then, well you just got your PTFE hot enough to start degrading to the point I'm leaving the room, grab the bird on the way out.
mikie: Yep, meaningful studies aren't cheap--only government, industry and their grantees have the scratch. Since government is in industry's pocket (the charitable view), objective, definitive studies are not likely to happen. Maybe an exceptionally impolitic epidemiologist will someday make some links to human illness, be ridiculed out of a tenure, and a couple generations hence may be proven right. Maybe that's the best we can ever expect.
But still, there IS a suspicious correlation between normal cooking on PTFE and pet bird deaths. Sure, our physiologies and sensitivities are different from birds', but assuming it is the offgassing/particulates that kills the birds, is it sensible to assume--whatever the modality is--it is safe for humans?
We've visited this topic before (and I bet we're both tired of it), but it doesn't help much to encourage flawed syllogistic thinking along these lines:
P1A: A pet bird died.
P1B: PTFE didn't kill it.
C1B: Therefore, PTFE is safe.
P2A: Negligent drivers injure many people.
P2B: Fumes from heating PTFE pose a lesser danger.
C2B: Therefore, no worries about PTFE cookware.
First off, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever using non-stick pans.
I've been staying out of this discussion but I can offer some info regarding pet birds and cooking. Yes, it IS possible for a Teflon pan to release fumes IFF it is superheated and those fumes can be lethal to a bird.
But there are other reasons to keep the birdies away from the kitchen.
Birdies with unclipped wings who are allowed to stay on the top of their cage DO fly. That's what birdies do... (Don't get me started on what happened when an Amazon landed in the sink full of suds!)
The general cooking particulates (oil and such) in the kitchen aren't good for their lungs and it makes their feather smell.
A true story here... Mother's Moluccan Cockatoo (big, big birdie) was on a perch in the kitchen. Red-lored Amazon (medium size birdie) was several feet away but still in the kitchen. DYH Amazon was in another room. Mother turned on the oven to warm up the room. A few minutes later the Moluccan keeled over dead on the floor. Red-lored Amazon fell off it's perch and landed on the bottom of the cage. Did eventually recover. DYH Amazon wasn't affected at all.
Birdie vet did an autopsy on Moluccan. Findings were that it was not cooking-pan fumes, nor was it carbon monoxide. The lethal weapon? Fumes from the open oven. Evidently the burner wasn't properly adjusted.
Best and safest plan for cooks and birdies is keep the birds out of the kitchen.
Just my opinion. I always kept my bird in his cage in a room other than the kitchen.
re: I used to know how to cook...
Hi, Lucy: Wow, you have proven your birdie bona fides, that's for sure. It makes total sense to me (if you want to keep your birds fresh-smelling and alive) to keep them away from the kitchen. Might be better for the humans' health, too.
I am not doubtful, just curious how the autopsy/necroscopy of your mom's Moluccan (RIP, BTW) was able to differentiate non-CO oven fumes from others. Or was it the circumstances (e.g., no PTFE pan cooking at/near the time)? Was there a toxicology panel done? Oven racks, liners and even the enclosures themselves are sometimes treated with nonstick.
My approach is pretty simple: Since I'm unconvinced PTFE is safe, I'm not going to use it--much. And then I KNOW I can't poison myself with it, or be party to a manufacturing process that uses astoundingly lethal and carcinogenic chemicals.
The vet did sent tissue samples for toxicology analysis. I haven't seen the report but he was satisfied it wasn't non-stick fumes (besides which no cooking was going on at the time) or carbon monoxide. Also the Amazon that was affected but didn't bite the dust was in the kitchen several feet away from the Moluccan. The unaffected Amazon was probably 15 or so feet away and not in the kitchen.
I don't recall if he mentioned it but it seems to me I've heard or read that carbon monoxide poisoning leaves a characteristic cherry-red color. At least in humans.
He's an avian vet and had been caring for the birds for many years so he would have known if there were some kind of systemic condition that contributed to the Moluccan's unfortunate demise.
Anyway, even if by process of elimination, it seems gas fumes were the culprit. The oven, even if it had some sort of non-stick coating, wasn't anywhere near hot enough to off-gas. She had only turned it on a few minutes earlier. Just an aside here... Call the gas company and have them check out your oven. Mine doesn't have any 'funny-fumey' smell at all, ever. Hers, on the other hand, did until it heated up.
One other bit of Moluccan trivia. They shouldn't be caged with Macaws - the fine almost talcum-powdery dander from their feathers is harmful to Macaws.
Just for grins... Behold the unaffected Amazon. Really cool birdie! Thinks I'm his human.
It is so, so very difficult to type with the appropriate amount of sarcasim. Therefore I'll conceed point 1. Point 2, if we're really trying to save lives, I just think there are many, many more places we could devote our energy that would be more productive than PTFE coated cookware. That is not to say that PTFE coated cookware is 100% safe, but there are enough studies published, in my mind at least, that I don't have concerns about using it. The fact I've been in the plastics industry 40 years, probably slants my opinion somewhat on issues that involve plastics and their use.
mikie: Hey, don't worry about sarcasm. By "Point 2", I take it you mean the second syllogism. Sure, I'm with you--PTFE cookware doesn't make it onto my Top 100 List of solvable human problems, either. But pollution in general does, especially by persistent chemicals of unexplored toxicity or mutagenics to humans.
Your career in plastics might well make you a better judge of this. Certainly your experience puts you in a better position than me to square what you know with what you read and the with evolving sciences. I'm sure there are folks in the tobacco and fertilizer industries who still feel usurped by less-experienced inquisitors after the safety of their products.
But I'm glad you're satisfied with the PTFE studies done to date.
I've seared in PTFE-lined pan but I preheated with oil first; I never heat an empty pan, no matter what the surface is. I have an array of PTFE-lined cookware purchased as far back as 1989 (still in use) all the way through 2010.
Bird is in the living room, next door to the kitchen (within 30 feet of the cooking area) but has the run of the house. Been that way for all 19 years (got him just after his first molt so that puts him around 20.5 years old, which is old for a cockatiel). He's rather intelligent and only wanders into the kitchen when we're not cooking.
What I was trying to illustrate with the "canary in a coal mine" analogy was birds have delicate respiratory systems. Lots of things can affect them (room deodorizers, cleaning products, perfume, etc). So, if you have a bird, you need to be aware that many things can kill them. It's not just PTFE products.
When it's time, it's time.
re: Dee S
Hi, Dee: I got your point, thanks. Mine wasn't a lot different: If your canary keels over dead in a mine because of what it is (or isn't) breathing, maybe its owner shouldn't be breathing it, either.
My first thought every time I hear that analogy has always been that a dead canary in a mine is reason to leave without pondering what offed the bird. After digesting your post, I now understand it may be "not just PTFE products" that kill a bird or poison me. But I'm still going to cross them off my list.
You have 22 years of use on the same non-stick pans? Amazing! Lots of posters here carp about how often--like every other year--nonstick needs replacing. You must have secrets to share.
I've had good luck recently preheating my bare cast iron without oil for searing and roasting. I only started doing it recently, under the strict orders in Tom Keller's cookbooks. I've heard others claim doing so in SS pans renders them much less "sticky", too.
Just a point about PtFEs POFAs and Swiss Diamond. Yes, they are used to made the industrial diamonds stick to the pan, BUT...a big but, the temperatures at which they are applied burns off the chemicals. You may have a few ghosts, but not for long. Another plus with SD is that it browns beautifully. I love that it is dishwasher and oven safe and the vented lids are vented.
Actually, the vapor lock thing works the other way - if you leave the cover on as the pot cools, the air inside contracts and creates the lock, requiring you to reheat the pan to remove the lid. Either way, it's pretty annoying.
The reference to Teflon toxicity is based on the factual, but highly inflated, claims of pet birds dying when exposed to PTFE fumes. Apparently that can occur, but only when the PTFE coating is heated beyond what would be considered normal cooking temperatures - a point at which many other materials can also release gaseous emissions that can harm birds' delicate respiratory systems. I'm not aware of any credible claims that there is any risk to humans, and certainly none when the cookware is used normally.
I agree that most so-called "waterless" cookware is no better than moderate to good quality brands more readily available, and in many cases is not as good.
About the teflon... I think his name is Clay Aiken,I'm probably totally off on his name but he has a show on the food network called Good Eats. He's a pretty rational conservative guy and he had a segmant on cookware. He decided to take the birds dying from the teflon challenge and find out whether it was a myth or not. In his experiment, he found out it was not a myth. He said once the pans were heated above 200 degrees or so they did emit a very toxic gas. He warns people to only use teflon to sautee and use under very low temperatures. He said under no circumstance should you put a teflon pan in the oven. In my research I woudld not even do so under a low temperature, especially since the teflon peels often and gets into the food.
Your rationale that because if teflon was not safe, they would pull it off the market is not the best reasoning. There are so many things that the FDA and other agencies allow on the market that are not safe for our health: Vioxx, Phen-Phen, aspartame, cigarettes, splenda, etc.
I challenge you to do your own research and form your own opinion rather then just saying " if everyone else does it, it must be ok"
Do a search of "Parrots" and "teflon" and you'll get a lot of information on the subject. Exotic birds are also sensitive to aerosol spray and a variety of other household products. However, I'm unaware of any information showing that teflon is dangerous to anyone but exotic birds, so if the original poster doesn't have a bird in the home, it shouldn't be a problem.
I've linked an article from "about.com", which I tend to find neutral and reliable on subjects of this nature.
If Alton Brown said that he's wrong - and his shows seem to be very well researched so I frankly doubt that he ever said it. Even the most vocal (some might say irrational) critics of Teflon and other PTFE coatings do not claim that toxic gases or particles are emitted at temperatures as low as 200 degrees (I assume we're talking in Farenheit degrees, right?). The temperature most often cited is something above 450.
googled up a number of 572F from a wired.com review of alton brown's book...
if the magic number is 200, then you ca n't even boil water in a teflon lined pan. forget about sauteeing, that takes a high flame. my bs meter is flying up because it would take forever to cook a sunnyside up egg at a pan temp less than 200 because the limits of thermal conductivity will mean that the egg will be at a much lower temperature. any cook will tell you to not to bother.
You have many questions, some really big or in-depth. It sounds like you have done quite a bit of research in many aspects of this. However, that being true, even you have not bought more than two or three sets to "compare" and I would think a previous lack of response here on the CH Home Cooking message board to that part of your 3rd question can be understood in those terms (as well as it being the Memorial Day holiday)
First, I have a few questions for you.
(1) Can "waterless" cooking be done in a "regular" stainless steel pan with core and/or copper bottom?
(2) Is waterless cooking widely used?
I believe so. I am reading the techs of the link here:
That is because there are many cookware sets seem to be made of the same materials designated as "waterless cookware." What some [waterless] sellers are doing is comparing their stainless steel product to all aluminum cookware. That is somewhat misleading because all-aluminum cookware does not have the same heat conduction qualities as stainless steel. And, the "waterless cookware" is stainless steel construction.
I am not going to say I am an expert on the subject, but here is my thinking on your questions.
"(1) If these pots are as great as I have found them to be, how come I have not seen any professional chefs use them? or any cooking stores such as Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma sell them?"
Your answer can be thought out if you know what brands the professional chefs DO use? Just because the chef may have to cook quickly in a restaurant, that doesn't always mean that they need to cook at high heat [referencing your "water boils faster in this pan" example].
And, a professional chef is catering to the tastes of the public and not necessarily always their diet restrictions. While I'm sure they would advocate healthy cooking, butters and oils, etc, impart some of the deliciousness in their commercial dishes. While you can find healthy cooking at some restaurants, like The Daily Grill, many diners want to get something from a professional chef that they cannot do themselves at home.
Plus, "health food" is still a rather new concept (40 Jack laLanne years as compared to 100s of necessary cooking). So, "healthy cooking" is still a rather new concept. The recipes are still rather limited for dishes containing no fats or liquid other than the natural juices of the item being cooked as in your "waterless cooking" method.
That said, many professional cookware companies offer a "waterless" set. One set is the Cordon Bleu line. See, http://www.cordonbleucookware.com/ Then, please note that "Cordon Bleu" is a registered trademark of Regal Ware, Inc. Regal is over 60 years old and is worldwide and very reputable. So, it is not that the "waterless" cookware is an Edsel in the industry, it is a progression in the development of homecooking.
Looking at cookware sets is kind of like looking at stars. The longer you look, the more you see.
And, professional chefs, or should I say Star Chefs, are coming out with even more. Sets they can put their name on. So, they have to come up with some quality that will sell their pans. Their name being one, the construction and materials all important, too. I've seen star chefs are using the stainless steel material.
And, if professional [restaurant] chefs use electric skillets (as was your first line of reference; " a Healthcraft electric " waterless" non-stick skillet"), it slows them down in the kitchen because of the immobility of the unit. While waffle irons and other electric devices are used in a professional kitchen, the mobility factor is important in most cases of restaurant use. How do they clean them for the next dish?
When you say, "Many of these brands are much less expensive then the Healthcraft" and ask for comparisons, I would ask that you first note what the "waterless cookware" specifics are.
They are made of high grade stainless steel. What grade? Many expensive stainless steel cookware sets available to the public are made of 18/10 stainless steel. The 18/10 refers to the proportion of chromium to nickel in the stainless steel alloy. See, http://www.kitchenfantasy.com/shoppin...
And, when you ask about copper in your question #4, copper conducts heat differently than stainless steel also. It absorbs heat at a medium rate, and aluminum does so even faster. Copper's heat conduction is equal to tin. Stainless steel alone is not an effective conductor of heat. See more on copper cookware at http://www.metrokitchen.com/mauviel/ and at http://fantes.com/copper_cookware.htm and Google.
Copper has been used for ages as cookware, but it is hard to keep "clean" in that is darkens every time you heat it >> and not evenly. The bottoms on some of my pans are copper and I want to clean them with Barkeepers Friend after each use to keep them bright and shiny new looking. That said, some people like copper pans and can afford polishing them as aften as they like, or not.
So, while I can't help you with your specific question of whether your Healthcraft line is better than any other pan available for sale to the public, I hope I answered some of your questions. I have not tried the Healthcraft line of cookware, bakeware and knives. But, I do prefer the stainless steel to cookware that is made totally of aluminum or totally of copper (though totally for copper is good for some particular dishes
A kitchen designer friend of mine used to mention that I "always coook on high heat." And, I found he was almost right. I stir fried a lot in college and got used to the constant attention to cooking while at the stove. So, when I was doing other dishes in stainless steel cookware, I was still using the heat on high and accomodating by either removing the pan from the heat or attending to it in technique (like sometimes, I'd put it on a spatula and leave it in the pan if the rest of the dish was lagging or layering. He got me into baking a little.
What I'm trying to say is that many chefs have their own technique and the pans they use. There are culinary schools that will train in one technique. And some others that will introduce techniques from different lands and ages. Even then, I would not try to make a crepe in a cast iron pan, but I'm sure it has been done. Crepes are more often made in French steel pans.
See also, Window 3 at http://www.bergen.org/technology/iron... and http://personalwebs.oakland.edu/~srmc...
And, don't even get me started on bamboo pans, er, I mean steamers, another healthy way of cooking.
Your Healthcraft pans sound like they are very good. Thanks for the recommendation.
Has Cook's Illustrated magazine done a comparison?
re: kc girl
Not to be too picky about an excellently reasoned argument, but . . .
The discussion of thermal conductivity of metals is not correct. I'm looking at the table of thermal conductivity of the elements in my 1983 CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and copper is far-and-away the most conductive of the metals commonly used in cookware, at approximately 4.0 (units are watts per cm per degree Kelvin at approximate room temperature [20 C], but we need only focus on the relative values). Aluminum comes in at only 2.4, and tin is a bit over 0.5. Stainless steel, as most here know, is a pretty poor conductor, at only 0.3, and cast iron - however useful its other properties may be - isn't much better, at 0.8. Anyone looking for the ultimate in conductivity (and price) should have their cookware made of silver, which is the only common metal with better conductivity than copper (about 4.3).
Yours is the first mention of the CRC tables I've heard for a long time!
I thought gold was even better than silver. I recall an article once by someone who made that claim, and had had an omelet made in such a pan. The pan had been made mostly for fun and was soon thereafter melted back into the bar from whence it came.
John, I thought the same thing, and looked at the value for gold just for that reason - I was surprised to see that it's only about 3.2, so not even as good as aluminum. Then I thought maybe I was confusing electrical and thermal conductivities, so I checked that table as well (they actually tabulate resistivity, but it amounts to the same thing) and found that the relationships are about the same - silver is the champ, followed by copper, aluminum, then gold.
re: kc girl
I thank you for the response and to putting so much thought and effort into your response. I was trying to get some feedback on waterless cookware. Unfortunately, you could not do so, but thank you for the other information.
Yes, I did do some research already on the internet on waterless cookware, but did not really find enough of what I was looking for. Thank you for the info on Cordon Bleu; I was not aware that they also had a waterless cookware.
The healthcraft pots gimick is that they are waterless. In the healthcraft demonstration they take a pot and fill it with cut up fresh vegetables then fill it with water, shake it up a bit, and then pour the water out, leaving the food moist but virtually no water at the bottom of the food. The food cooks with only a tablespoon or so of water, butter or oil instead of cups; this is what they mean by " waterless". They steam the vegetables in this tiny bit of water, and claim that this is one of the only kind of cookware available that allows you to do this. They claim it is healthier since you don't pour out any of the colored water which contains all the vitmains and nutrients.
All the nutrients stay in the pot.
The pots also contain a valve on top which you can close or open similar to a pressure cooker depending on what kind of food you are cooking. My mom has had her pots for about 20 years and never had a problem with any of the valves getting stuck,( they are much easier to use then a pressure cooker valve). Maybe the person who posted their issues with the valve was using a different brand of waterless cookware.
I am not a chemist or specialist in heat conductivity. I never really understood the deal with pots and heat conductivity. Thank you for enlightening me on the ratios of Stainless Steel to Chroumim, and Nickel. I have seen some pots labeled "made of surrgical steel", but I am not sure what that means? Healthcraft says that their pots have a sandwhich of three alloys. I can't remember the combination. I am not sure when selling pots if by law they have to disclose what percentage of the pot has to be i.e stainless steel for them to label it a Stainless Steel pot.
When I said "professional cookware" an example would be: " www.e-dehillerin.fr/presentationA.html" I meant cookware used by very discrimating chefs, not just professional Smart and Final cookware.
Even though these pots are touted to be " a healthy way to cook" that is not really what really turned me on to the pots. The advantages of the pots that I liked where: they heat up much faster,and cook the same recipe quicker then in my other cookware (I compared them with Revere stainless steel and copper bottom, A cuisinart stainless steel pan, and a no name stainless steel one from Ross, not aluminum), they also cook more evenly then in the other pots.
I know I sound like I am selling Healthcraft pots, but I assure you I have nothing to do with the company. If anything, I am trying to find out if I can get something similar to that at a more affordable price. Since Cutco offers very similar product line for 1/2 the price I wanted to know if anybody had any experience with them or other waterless cookware.
Again, knowing the details of the cookware is important when finding comparables.
All I can offer is that Regal Ware has many of the features your are describing and cost is very, very reasonable for many of their products. And, from my experience in their stainless steel pans (from my youth, etc), their product is high quality and durable. They also have pressure cookers. http://www.regalware.com/
Their Cordon Bleu waterless cookware is 7-ply premium quality stainless steel, so maybe it has something to do with the rate of heat conduction compared to your 3-ply S/S/ Health Craft (which may be another key factor).
And, here is an illustration of their [Regal Ware, Inc.] CookBest line 7-Ply Induct-a-core Construction
And, again, I do not have experience with your particular brand. I offer a clarification so that others can see, in the vast ocean of available cookware, what specifics make your Health Craft brand and possibly advise on another, less expensive brand as you requested. That is because the method of "waterless cooking" can be and is done in cookware not specifically denoted as "waterless cookware" (though I know you said they claim that this is one of the only kind of cookware available that allows you to do this). See link below for a long list and click links to other "waterless cookware."
The one difference I noted in your responsive post was that it has a pressure cooker top. That might be the key feature.
But as you explain, the details of your set are:
(1) Your Healthcraft pots are made of stainless steel. However, I have not found out what grade of steel or a list other alloys used in your particulr pans.
(2) Yours have a sandwich of three alloys. Is that on just the bottom or the entire pan? And it would be nice to know what the allows are.
(3) The pots also contain a valve on top which you can close or open similar to a pressure cooker.
While there are other features to specify >> like shape of handles, how they are attached to the pot, and what the handles are made of >> you specify what you like and are seeking is:
(1) they heat up much faster and cook the same recipe quicker then in other cookware
(2) they also cook more evenly
You have compared them with Revere stainless steel and copper bottom, a cuisinart stainless steel pan, and a no name stainless steel one from Ross, not aluminum.
Construction of a pan is very important to use. See Health Crafts new Gold Classic collection and its construction description at http://www.healthcraft.com/ then click on "Our Features."
The only feature on the Regal Ware I have that is not as desireable is the handles material. It does not go in the oven. They are just used stovetop.
Again, if you are using the lid on most of your dishes, I would say that the "pressure cooker" feature is key in making your cooking faster and more even.
Also, a search on e-bay shows no Healthcraft cookware currently being offered for sale (though there are 43 hits for "waterless cookware") Maybe everybody loves the Heatlhcraft set and won't part!
To find a comparable at a much lower price, as you requested, maybe a chowhound will recognize the key features in their cookware and chime in. Most cookware manufacturers will have the detailed description of their product.
I appreciate your having taken time to walk me through the Healthcraft line. Always looking for the best.
However, many of the waterless cookware systems are sold only in-home. Thus, your initial question? Why?
Maybe to show how to best use them and spoecifically highlight their superior qualities? Maybe the professional chefs want to keep it a secret? Maybe spreading the wealth through the homemakers?
Hope to hear from some professional chefs.
Cooks Illustrated recently did a test of non-stick cookware, including All Clad etc...the nonstick coating does emit fumes..it begins at about 500 degrees (which is relatively easy to achieve even with home stoves) it starts emitting fumes which escalate at 600 degrees..This is with nothing in the pans ...EMPTY.
To ameliorate this situation..do not preheat nonstick empty...this includes oil, which should be added to nonstick in a cool pan, not after preheating..
so says "Cooks Illustrated"
I think one reason the pros don't use the 7-ply is because of the iron core - it retains the heat, which takes away the quick control of the heat the pros need. The top chefs definitely use stainless steel, and I'd bet they like the aluminum core since it conducts heat so quickly, thus evenly.
The 'waterless' cookware sets have a few things in common, I've noticed. First is the price - if it's made in the USA, it's typically quite pricey. The cheaper sets all seem to be made in China. Don't know if there's a big difference in quality, though there are some differences in features. One frequent difference is whether the cladding goes up the sides or is just a disk on the bottom. Otherwise, there are a lot of varieties with a wide price range. One thing they all seem to have in common is users like them, regardless where they got them or how much they paid. Of course, I would expect someone who paid a lot of money for the set to like it, otherwise they would seem foolish for spending so much money.
As for the Teflon debate, I just know that I've been using Teflon-coated pots and pans for 20 years and I'm done with 'em. Whether you use only platicware on the cooking surface or not, they all flake away eventually. Kinda nasty, whether or not it's toxic. I have noticed there are alternative non-stick surfaces that are getting some popularity, and there's even a set that brags about its 'Eco-friendly' non-stick application process that apparently doesn't produce the noxious gasses. I think I'm going to try a ceramic version myself. Although I would expect the pan to handle up to 350 degrees of heat, I don't think I'd ever put a non-stick pot or pan in the oven. If you plan to do that, I'd 'stick' with the stainless steel - clad or not, that's what they're good for.
Anyone got any new updates to this older posting?
Apparently the 'eco-friendly' non-stick cookware is also not non-stick. Cook's Illustrated did a test on several brands/kinds of the new non-stick and none of it really performed anywhere near as well as traditional non-stick.
What exactly IS waterless cooking anyway? Does that mean baking, roasting, sauteeing? ...everyting but braising, boiling, and steaming?
re: John E.
Hi, John: "What exactly IS waterless cooking anyway?"
Really good question. IMO, the short answer is that it is a sham, pseudo-nutritional concept used to fool health-afraid people to shell out 10x the money for <1x performance. From a culinary perspective, it's steaming, which you can do in pretty much anything.
The knives are serrated and stainless, good for cutting bread and tomatoes, but not much else.
We've had to remove a number of off-topic replies from this thread. We'd ask that people keep the conversation friendly and focused on cookware.