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Plastic-Free Cookware and Bakeware

Not so long ago, several of my favorite pieces of cookware had a nonstick coating.  But most nonstick coatings contain Teflon, and Teflon is associated with "smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation, and weaker immune defense against disease," according to the Environmental Working Group.  Some folks think as long as you don't heat an empty or damaged Teflon pan, you are doing all right.  

I personally have a general avoidance policy regarding plastic and food, but I try especially hard to avoid heating food in plastic. Although I decided early in my journey to green that I didn't want to cook or bake with plastic, it took me years to phase out all my nonstick stuff.  It's been hard to say goodbye to Mr. Teflon.  Today I am proud to say that I no longer use any nonstick cookware or bakeware.  

Some changes were easy to make.  For example, even though many recipes recommend browning ground meat in a nonstick skillet, I have never had any problem doing this in a stainless steel skillet.  Also, I found it very easy to stop using nonstick bakeware: you just have to grease your bakeware instead!  The most difficult thing to replace was my 10" nonstick skillet, which I used nearly everyday for scrambled eggs, fried eggs, French toast, pancakes and frying tofu.  These things could not be done in a stainless steel skillet without a lot of sticking and an arduous cleanup.

Today, I present to you my recommendations for plastic-free cooking and baking.  As a thorough researcher, I, of course, consulted sources such as Cook's Illustrated and Consumer Reports before making any of these purchases.  After years of use, I can attest to their performance and durability.  

10 Essentials for Plastic-Free Baking and Cooking

Pyrex Grip-Rite 8-Inch Square Baking Dish, Clear

Tempered-Glass Loaf Pans and Baking Pans
I have Pyrex loaf pans and square and rectangular baking pans.  I use the loaf pans for baking bread (pictured above), quick breads like banana bread, as well as the occasional lemon yogurt cake.  I usually butter and flour them.  I once had an Anolon metal loaf pan and did not like it nearly as much.  I also regularly use the baking pans for brownies, cakes, enchiladas, chicken and more.    I grease the baking pans with my Misto.  I think at least one of my baking pans is actually Anchor Hawking, which is another US-made brand of tempered glass.  You can also put Pyrex storage containers (without the plastic lid) in the oven, if you so desire.  The best thing about glass bakeware:  you can clean it in your dishwasher!  Love that.

Lincoln Wear-Ever® Standard Duty Half-Size Sheet Pan 18 GUAGE

Lincoln Wear-Ever Half-sheet Pans (aluminum)
I use these Lincoln Wear-Ever baking sheets all the time for baking cookies.  Also great for tostadas, roasting vegetables, and baking free-form artisan breads.  You can also use these for pizza.  I grease with butter or my Misto.

Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 14-Inch Pizza Crisper

Chicago Metallic Commercial Traditional Uncoated Pizza Pans (aluminum)
These are large 14" diameter pizza pans. I grease with my Misto.  One of my favorite things about pizza pans without a nonstick coating: you can slice the pizza right on the pan.  

Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 12-Cup Muffin Pan

Chicago Metallic Commercial Traditional Uncoated Muffin Tin (aluminum)
I haven't had any trouble using this plastic-free muffin tin.  I've used it for corn muffins, blueberry muffins, and mini meatloaf muffins.  Definitely a bit harder to clean up than a nonstick muffin tin though.  I grease using my Misto usually.
CorningWare French White 7-Piece Bake and Serve Set
CorningWare Casserole Dishes
Ceramic dishes with glass lids.  CorningWare is actually the same company as Pyrex. I use these for meatballs and casseroles.  These are perfect for taking food to a party and for storing straight in the fridge.  Dishwasher safe.

Cuisinart 77-10 Chef's Classic Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel Skillets and Pots
This is an affordable set of high-quality stainless steel cookware.  I have this 17-piece set.  I use all of these pots and pans all the time.  I also have the 5-1/2-Quart Multi-Purpose Pot with Glass Cover (it came free with my set), which I love for making soups, pasta sauce, and braised meat.  Make sure you buy stainless steel skillets that can go straight in the oven too (no plastic handles).

Fagor Splendid 6-Quart Pressure Cooker

Fagor Pressure Cooker
We use our 6-quart Fagor Pressure Cooker weekly for cooking beans from scratch.  It also works well for meats and vegetables.  You can find entire cookbooks devoted to pressure cooking.  Pressure cooking saves you time and conserves energy.  I bought the Fagor based on the Cook's Illustrated review.  

Lodge Logic L5SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron 8-Inch Skillet

Lodge Logic Preseasoned Cast Iron
Lodge Logic Preseasoned Cast Iron is an extremely affordable cookware option.  I bought a Lodge Logic skillet to replace my 10" skillet.  For me, Lodge Logic pre-seasoned cast iron did not work for egg-based dishes (scrambed eggs, french toast) or frying tofu.  But I still use my Lodge Logic griddle every week for pancakes and quesadillas.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 11-3/4-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Red
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron is not cheap.  But it will help you forget all about Teflon and will probably last forever.  I use my 12" skillet for scrambled eggs, fried eggs, French toast, pancakes, stir-fries (frying tofu), turkey burgers, black bean burgers, fish and anything else.  Fabulous heat retention.  Great for searing meats.  These pans, like all cast iron, are heavy and take a while to heat up, but they are a breeze to clean up.  You can read more about my love affair with Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron HERE.
Tramontina 80131/003 Gourmet 6-1/2-Quart Cast-Iron Covered Casserole, Vibrant Red
Tramontina Dutch Oven
The Tramontina Dutch Oven was a Cook's Illustrated Best Buy (the top-rated Le Creuset dutch oven is much more expensive).  I picked this up at my local Walmart for about $40 (one of two times I've been there).  If you replace the plastic knob, it works great in the oven too.  I use it mainly for stews.  It works really well for browning meat.  The Lodge Logic enameled dutch oven is another affordable option.

Additional Resources
Green Cookware List from GreenerPenny
EWG's Guide to PFCs by Environmental Working Group
Help! How Can I Cook Without Teflon? by Healthy Child Healthy World

What's your favorite plastic-free cookware and bakeware?

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