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Non-stick alternative Pan for Omelette and Searing Fish

Hi,

I recently threw away my teflon coated pans after I learnt about all the ills of PTFE and PFOA.
Since then I haven't been able to make a perfect omelette or pan-sear a fish fillet like I used to with my teflon-coated pans. Everything sticks, no matter how much oil I use.
I have tried - Cuisinart Stainless Steel skillet, Lodge Cast Iron skillet (seasoned after every use ) and Le Creuset enameled cast iron pan - all without luck. Is there something I am doing wrong ?

I was thinking of Cuisinart Green Gourmet Skillet or the GreenPan San Francisco Frypan (found those on amazon). They seem to have mixed reviews on amazon.

Any help will be appreciated.

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  1. I was warned on here against purchasing the cuisinart greet gourmet set, my aunt and uncle however were not and purchased the set. Worked great for exactly 3 months, and then the non-stick stopped working all together and they experienced some sort of flaking with it. I am glad I didn't purchase that set.

    1. I would still recommend cast iron skillet and carbon steel frying pan. Those are the best non-stick for low temperature omelette and medium high temperature fish searing. Most green pans are great for the first few months and start to lose their nonstick ability in 6 months. In other words, their functional lifetime is shorter than normal Teflon cookware.

      "“The best green product is not going to be up to the performance of our higher-end non-stick cookware.” Consumers must have realistic expectations, advises Beck."

      http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2010/0...

      1. I recommend going back to nonstick for an omelet pan. I'm thinking of getting a Scanpan Classic 8" pan for omelets, because although my T-Fal Encore 2 8" pan does an excellent job with eggs, it seems the shape is not optimal for turning an omelet. The Scanpan Classic contains PTFE but not POFA. This is nothing to be concerned about at the temperature used for eggs, in my opinion.

        I never cook fish in my egg pans. Nothing but eggs. Carbon steel might work well for fish, but I haven't tried it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          I have the Scanpan Clasic 8" for omelets and eggs over easy and it works great, you will really like it. It's one of two non-stick Scanpans we have, the other is a griddle for flap jacks, french toast, grilled cheese sandwich, etc. Not much heat involved in either case.

        2. Hi, calchef:

          Not the purdy-est pan, but for omelettes you might consider http://www.potshopofboston.com/Omelet... Or a Volrath all-aluminum pan. But note the Vollrath seasoning instructions (yes, for aluminum!

          )

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          2 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            Those omelet pans are interesting — I'd never seen them before. Three times the price of the Scanpan Classic, however.

            1. re: GH1618

              Hi, GH1618:

              I've never cooked on one, but they look thick, don't they? I believe the originator began making them from scrap WW2 naval torpedo nosecaps.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

          2. My lodge cast iron does omelettes and searing beautifully.

            12 Replies
            1. re: dixiegal

              +1, but it does take efforts and skills to get the nice seasoning surface.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                The main issue I have with Cast Iron is that I can't use soap - its hard to get the stuck-on food out with just a lodge pan scraper, salt and water.
                As for the seasoning - not sure if I am doing it right - I spread olive oil all over the inside with a paper towel and let it sit in the oven at 450 deg. for an hour. Seems nice and coated when it comes out of the oven - but only till I use it the next time.

                1. re: calchef12

                  You CAN use soap. That's a bunch of BS. A bit of dish soap via hand-washing will not hurt a well-seasoned pan. The trick is to make your pans REALLY well-seasoned - with several very light layers of seasoning.

                  I use my cast iron for just about everything including omelettes. When it comes to over-easy eggs I do prefer non-stick and have several good nonstick crepe pans for that.

                  It sounds to me, from all your posts, that you should give your lodge a "from scratch do-over". Set your oven to 400. Then give your lodge a very good scrubbing inside with steel wool and salt. Really scrub the heck out of it. And then wash it clean, dry it IMMEDIATELY and thoroughly. Then give it a very light coat of canola oil and place it into your preheated oven, open side down (on foil if you like) for 30 min. Turn oven to off, leave oven door closed, and wait until the pan has come down to about 100 or so on it's own.

                  Take it out - set oven to 400. Then give it another LIGHT coating of canola oil. When oven is at 400, repeat again. And AGAIN. You want, in my opinion at LEAST 3-4 treatments.

                  A mere 1 layer will have microscopic holes in the seasoning. It will LOOK really nice but the layer is just not consistent enough.

                  My 10" lodge gets daily constant use. Every few months I'll sense that it is not quite doing as well anymore and give it another 1-2 seasonings. Otherwise, I completely abuse my cast iron. I soak it if I want, use dish soap, whatever. I never hand dry my cast iron - just let it drip and never bother to oil it, unless I've first heated it up and am about to cook something in it. A really good seasoning coats and protects the surface.

                  All that aside - the very best non-stick pan I ever owned was the Calphalon Commercial c1210p 10" pan. Nice low sides and ridiculously non-stick. Just make sure that you keep your temps to a reasonable amount and you'll have this for YEARS.

                  Good luck!

                  Jeff

                  1. re: jkling17

                    Ditto for me on washing my cast iron with soap. I do it all the time. Though not every time I use it. Just when I need to. Such as, I just cooked some Salmon in my CI skillet. I washed it with soap afterwards, because I don't want the lingering fish smell. After that, I fried up some bacon in the same pan. I did not wash with soap afterwards. Just simmered some water in it for a while to loosen up the bacon bits, then washed in hot water. I did go over it a lightly with the SS wool scrub pad. Then I dried and put in my warm over to dry. Kosher salt as a scrub works great too.

                    1. re: dixiegal

                      "Ditto for me on washing my cast iron with soap. I do it all the time. Though not every time I use it. Just when I need to."

                      Same here.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Ditto, in case I wasn't specific. I only use some dish soap when i need to as well, not every time. But I also don't worry about how often I use it. My favorite daily 10" cheapo lodge skillet has probably 6+ layers of seasoning. I intentionally treat it without care and merely need to give it 1-2 touch-up sessions every few months. I only regret that I didn't learn about how awesome cast iron is for so many years.

                        Scrub with anything plastic. Those green pads are good too. Only use stainless steel and salt to scrub it before you are going to re-season.

                  2. re: calchef12

                    If you have to "re-season" after each use, it isn't really seasoned at all. The best products for seasoning a new iron pan are Crisco and lard. Once a pan is well-seasoned, it will clean up easily, and will remain seasoned, even if a little dish detergent is used now and then. Jkling17 is right about this.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      Another 2 cents. I have heard that lard is the best. But ... we just don't own any. We DO always have some canola around, which is better than olive oil for seasoning. Don't get me wrong - we use a LOT of olive oil in our house but for seasoning Canola is better - IF you don't have any lard.

                      1. re: jkling17

                        I don't have lard, either. Or Crisco, for that matter. If I has a new iron pan, I would probably buy Crisco to season it. Since my pan is seasoned, I don't worry about it, and I agree that Canola is preferable to olive oil for seasoning, although some here have raised objections to it. I use Canola in my cast iron pan, usually.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          >I don't have lard, either<

                          I keep a container of lard in the fridge just for my cast iron. I sometimes use bacon grease too. My second choice would be the crisco.

                          I did find upon accident that peanut oil puts a nice finish on the CI. I no longer use it because of my grandbaby's peanut allergies. But it worked really well.

                          I really prefer the bacon grease and lard.

                    2. re: calchef12

                      Maybe 450 isn't hot enough. I seasoned mine in my gas grill at over 500. Just once and almost nothing sticks. I just use a stiff bristled brush and hot water to clean. I would never use soap!

                      1. re: Tebrim

                        It's much more than hot enough. "The Pan Man" seasons cast iron at 225° F:

                        http://www.panman.com/cleaning.html

                2. An interesting fact about PTFE is that it is now being used in chemical laboratories for many applications, in preference to glassware, precisely because it is chemically inert:

                  http://www.2spi.com/catalog/plasticwa...

                  9 Replies
                    1. re: GH1618

                      Exactly..... PTFE is actually very inert, which means very much not toxic. Ingestion of PTFE (Teflon) is probably much much much safer than biting your fingernail. :P

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Yes, unless you heat it to about 570° F or above, in which case you get hydrogen flouride gas, which you don't want tp breath. So that is a concern for some.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          Yep, the gas is a concern, but if you read much of the concerns listed here... they have more to do with ingesting the solid Teflon, which makes you wonder if we are all talking about the same thing.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            I indirectly sell other plastics into the coating industry, so I have some insight into the process. Most of the coatings for pots and pans are heat treated to close to 700 degrees F in the manufacturing process. The potential for degrading the polymer and generating HF in any measureable quantity is extremely slim. The PFOA is a real concern, but that's gone long before the product gets to the consummer, that's part of the PTFE resin manufacturing process, not a by product of the material. I think if your not a chemist, it's a difficult concept to grasp and most want to error on what they feel is the safe side.

                            1. re: mikie

                              Hi Mikie, Thanks for this info. So teflon coated pans may not be so bad after all by the time it reaches the consumer ? As for 570 deg temp, assuming I am cooking on a gas stove on high, how long is it before it reaches this temperature ? I understand it will also depend on the contents of the pan..is there a rough ballpark or a way of knowing that I am leaving the safe temp zone ?

                              1. re: calchef12

                                Hi, calchef:

                                Your PTFE pan might not be bad for you *in your kitchen* if you don't overheat it. But your pan has to be MADE, and until they were forced to, my understanding is that the makers have had a poor environmental track record. PFOA pollution has been big problem, even if you're not whiffing it from your new pan.

                                I am very cynical about 570F being some bright line, below which you're perfectly safe and above which you're at peril. There really isn't a lot of science on this. What I *do* know is that even a brief span of inattention can send the hob under your PTFE pan soaring past 570F very quickly. People think of these temperatures in terms of OVEN settings, and since ovens don't go beyond say 550F, they assume they're safe. The reality is that even a cheap electric coil on High will peg out my IR gun at 1022F, and the true reading's probably appreciably higher than that. Consider that the tip of a gas frame is something like 3500F!

                                If your PTFE burns, its byproducts are exceedingly nasty toxins, some of which have a lethality equivalent to nerve gas.

                                So, IMO, while PTFE may technically be safe in your cold pan, its manufacture has been anything but safe, and risking getting it too hot (whatever that means) is not a good risk to take, especially for others.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Who said it's a "bright line"? The the manufacturer of laboratory ware to which I linked states that PTFE can be used up to 300° C (570° F). It's approximate — who cares how "bright" the line is? At some point above 300° C the polymer will break down, but that's way beyond normal cooking temperature for most things.

                                  As for pollution, virtually every manufacturing process can produce pollutants. That's why we have the EPA monitoring and regulating pollutants. Environmental pollution can only be controlled this way, not by individual boycotts of certain products. For every high-profile product which is potentially polluting during its manufacture, such as PTFE, there are thousands of other products which might be associated with pollution during their manufacture, but about which we know nothing. My view is that environmental pollution is best left to the appropriate agencies to control.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    Hi, GH1618:

                                    Oh, the manufacturer's *want* us all to think there's a bright line. Personally, I think PTFE starts offgassing lower than that (especially when the pan is new).

                                    My point to calchef was that it is absurdly easy to transgress 570F on a stovetop. It does not answer the safety concerns adequately, IMO, just to say they shouldn't be used above that line.

                                    As for being party to this particular kind of industrial pollution, go ahead if you want. I'm trying to live responsibly and rid myself and my home of many things which necessitate environmental irresponsibility in their manufacture. As for the pollution control agencies, let's just say I have a lot less faith in them than you apparently do.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                      2. I purchased a nano ceramic Aeternum from Bialetti a couple of months ago and I love its performance. It is really non stick and extremely easy to clean. It appears durable, but I'll let you know in a year or so.

                        http://www.bialettishop.com/CookwareP...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: trouttr

                          Likewise and I also love it for caramel sauces. The white makes it do easy to see.

                          1. re: trouttr

                            Thanks Trouttr. I was considering these too, they do seem like a good alternative. However a lot of reviewers on amazon complained about the nano-ceramic coating peeling off in a few months. http://amzn.com/B00448EUA0. Hopefully those are a few isolated cases, and not the general experience.

                          2. I cook omelets in my cast iron all the time, it's the only pan I use. I also threw out all my non stick years ago. If your Lodge pan was fairly new it's likely it hasn't seasoned enough yet for omelets. I use an old Griswold. Cook up some fatty stuff in the pan on a regular basis before trying again.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rasputina

                              My Griswold is a bit big for omelets, but I cooked a wonderful fratata in it and it didn't stick at all.

                            2. I just sauteed some okra (cut in small pieces) on my Le Creuset pan last night. I usually cook it on medium to medium-high, to dry up some of the sticky stuff inside, with just a little bit of seasoning and few tablespoons of oil. I used lower heat settings than I used to with my teflon pans. It still stuck to the pan.
                              Maybe I got some bad habits by cooking on teflon before and need to re-learn some techniques/proper temperature controls to cook in the non-teflon world. I don't want to go back to those teflon pans again.

                              1. I have the same problem. I bought a cast iron skillet about 6 months ago - mainly for tortillas, but have since tried to use it for eggs, but still no luck. I didn't initially season it (I didn't know anything about it, and was just using it for tortillas), but when I learned more, I cleaned, dried and seasoned (veg. oil), and tried again, but it wasn't really non-stick, so I mostly gave up (except for using it for tortillas), but then about 6 weeks ago, I read again how people say that cast iron skillets are great for eggs (omlettes/scrambled) and are better than non-stick, so I decided to re-season it and give it another shot. And before using it, I would only use it for cooking bacon, and would try and clean without soap when possible. I would still get bits of bacon and brown bits stuck on the pan after cooking the bacon, so would have to use soap and water, but would always apply a thin layer of oil or bacon grease after it was cleaned and dried and before storage. I did this a number of times with cooking only bacon (probably atleast 5), and then recently tried to do scrambled eggs in it, but it still had a layer of stuck eggs on the bottom when done. I have also done lamb burgers in it twice with better results than the first time I tried lamb burgers in it, but besides that, it has only been bacon, tortillas and just now eggs, but I would not call this a non-stick pan.

                                What am I doing wrong? (I heat the pan first and add the bacon or eggs)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: mdpilam

                                  Perhaps your main problem is that you are in a hurry. Good seasoning takes awhile to develop.

                                  Here are my suggestions:

                                  1: Do not try to cook eggs in it until it is well-seasoned.

                                  2. Clean the pan well before further seasoning, even if you need to use a little detergent. A "little" is only a couple of drops of liquid dish detergent. You do not want any sticky vegetable oil in the pan.

                                  3. Read the seasoning instructions from "The Pan Man" (linked in an earlier post).

                                  4. Do not use vegetable oil. Use only Crisco shortening or lard or bacon grease for the initial seasoning. I would use Crisco initially, using the method of "The Pan Man."

                                  5. Cook only bacon in the pan until it is well seasoned. After cooking, clean it with hot water according to the instructions. Do not leave excessive grease in the pan. A properly seasoned pan feels dry and hard, not sticky or oily, but with a smooth surface. There is no point trying to coom an egg in it until it reaches this condition, which may take some time.

                                  Once a pan is well-seasoned, it may be cleaned with a very small amount of detergent when necessary. If a couple of drops of detergent for a quick wash destroy the seasoning, it wasn't really well-seasoned. Using lots of detergent or soaking for a long time will destroy it, however. It should not be necessary. A well-seasoned pan is easy to clean.

                                  1. re: mdpilam

                                    What are you doing wrong? You are too impatient. 6 weeks and 5 bacon batches are not enough. But the fault isn't with you. It's with those people who claim cast iron is better than non-stick for eggs.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      "But the fault isn't with you. It's with those people who claim cast iron is better than non-stick for eggs."

                                      I concur with that. I do bacon in cast iron and eggs in Teflon with butter.

                                    2. re: mdpilam

                                      I should add, that after cleaning the pan, wipe it dry and free of excess grease, then put it over the heat for half a minute or so, to ensure that it is thoroughly dry. You cannot hurry thr process by leaving grease in the pan. That can result in a baked-on crust developing, which is not the same as seasoning. Seasoning is an extremely thin layer which impart a sheen to the pan.

                                    3. Just get a carbon steel crepe pan for omelets and a carbon steel skillet for fish and you'll never need to buy another pan for these purposes. There is a good discussion about carbon steel pans here:

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/696019

                                      I'm a somewhat recent convert to carbon steel, but I highly recommend it. I regularly use my De Buyer carbon steel crepe pan to make perfect omelets and various other egg dishes. Only requires preheating the pan and using little butter to ensure that nothing ever sticks. Boo-yah!