Cooking holds a special place in family life. For most families, individuals can point to specific memories and traditions established in the kitchen and handed down from generation to generation. Some of those sacred traditions have to do with cooking utensils and elements, such as cast-iron skillets or the use of specific cooking sprays.
While traditions are wonderful windows into familial hubs, sometimes those traditions do not translate to modern life. For instance, your grandmother or great-grandmother might have fried eggs in a cast-iron skillet, opting for a cooking spray to reduce the risks of sticking. While the cooking technique was useful, many manufacturers now produce nonstick pans.
With the invention of the nonstick skillet came new rules for cooking. For instance, you do not want to use metal utensils or cooking tools because they can scratch the surface of the nonstick pan. Additionally, you do not put nonstick items in the dishwasher because the detergent and heat can damage them. Most people are familiar with these rules, but many are unaware that cooking spray is also a big no-no with nonstick pans.
Why You Don't Want To Use Cooking Sprays
Cooking sprays contain lecithin, a soy or fat protein used as an emulsifying agent. The purpose of lecithin is to prevent ingredient separation. Unfortunately, while the substance is typically harmless to most cooking surfaces, it has a strange attribute when exposed to nonstick skillets or pans.
The lecithin makes cooking sprays stick to an otherwise nonstick surface. The problem is if a cook does not notice the buildup initially, it can become thick and somewhat damaging. The nonstick coating will eventually degrade, eliminating the benefit of the nonstick coating. Effectively, cooking spray ruins your nonstick skillet.
While many consumers might not know about the risks of using cooking sprays on nonstick items, manufacturers are well aware of the problem. Some nonstick pan producers, such as Anolon, not only warn customers of the issue but also explain that using cooking spray on their pans will void any warranty.
What You Should Use Instead
Many consumers use cooking sprays to cut back on the calories of their dishes. Still, if you want to protect your investment in cookware, it is best to avoid cooking sprays and opt instead for healthier oils like EVOO or regular olive oil.
While nothing beats the convenience of a pressurized cooking spray, you do have other options to protect your pans. Invest in a refillable oil mister. The mister can be filled with any cooking oil you prefer. The manual, refillable mister will not work as quickly or efficiently as PAM or other cooking sprays, but it won't hurt your nonstick pan.
When using cooking oils or fats in nonstick pans, you will also want to think about when you put the oil in. Most experts recommend putting the oil or grease you prefer in the pan right when setting it on the heat. Placing the oil in a cold pan will reduce the risks of harmful fumes and improve cooking results.
If you decide to cook in a nonstick skillet, you will want to throw away the cooking sprays. There is nothing wrong with family cooking traditions, but sometimes, even those need tweaking.