Pros: Solid construction; ability to use on high heat settings; retro style; ceramic-based non-stick
Cons: Relatively expensive; technology has yet to be proven over time
The true bottom line regarding my relationship with ThermolonTM GreenPan cookware is the fact I cannot offer a five-star rating on something that is so new to the market, even though it is a nice addition to a well-stocked kitchen. The Todd English Hard Anodized by GreenPan Anniversary Trio Gourmet Cookware Set is lovely to look at, delightful to use, a small pain to maintain and still too much of a gimmick for me to consider a necessary staple.
Traditional non-stick manufacturers strongly suggest using their wares on no more than medium heat and never chancing a quick trip under a broiler. Oven temperatures above 350 degrees will damage the cookware and invalidate most manufacturers' warranties but according to the EPA, those are the least of our problems.
Several years ago, I packed away, donated or sent to the landfill every bit of coated cookware I owned. What served as impetus to cleansing my kitchen of non-stick cookware was the thought of slowly poisoning my family and pets. Along came Thermolon technology and non-stick cookware once again earned a piece of valuable real estate in my kitchen cabinets.
You will be tested on this later...
Described by ThermolonTM Ltd.: "Thermolon is a 100% PTFE-free non-stick coating, born from extensive scientific research, 21st century manufacturing methods and our concern for consumer's health and the environment. Thermolon provides you with high quality, long endurance coatings for healthy cooking. No conventional PTFE-based non-stick coating can claim any of these features."
Excuse me, what exactly were those features that no other non-stick coatings can claim? To answer that we probably need several advanced degrees. Another option is to trust the marketing blitz that has Martha Stewart, Cuisinart, Todd English and Joy Mangano (among others) jumping on the GreenPan bandwagon faster than I can truss a turducken.
Good fortune has smiled upon us, yet another explanation from the manufacturer:
"ThermolonTM is a patented mineral polymer based on ceramic materials. In contrast, traditional non-stick is based on fluoropolymer resins. PTFE-based non-stick coatings use PFOA in the manufacturing process. Despite some marketing attempts of some creative minds, there is no non-stick that is as clear in their statements as Thermolon: It contains no PTFE and there is no PFOA involved in any step of its production process."
Once again patting itself on the back for clarity, only a chemist or environmentalist might join in on the ovation. For dolts like me, the alphabet soup contained in those statements leaves me scratching my head.
A much simpler explanation and the one that had me pulling the good kind of plastic out of my wallet went something like this: Traditional non-stick cookware coatings are plastic and resin based. Plastics and resins burn at lower temperatures than ceramic-based coatings. Burning PFOA-based coatings stink and it is suggested that over time those fumes are a likely cause of cancer. (Paraphrased from the EPA's Science Advisory Board's recommendation in 2006.)
So, if I get the drift of all the research, Thermolon contains none of the "likely cancer causing" chemicals and can be used at high stovetop, oven and even grill temperatures without worry. Claims are claims and like opinions and backsides, everyone has one; we will only know the environmental and health impact made by this new technology several years down the line. For now, I took the bait, hook, line and sinker and stand before you ready to share my experience with GreenPan.
Three Pans, Two Lids, $170...
My sister started my collection with a Todd English GreenPan Wok set. Bitten by the Thermolon bug one year earlier, Sis wanted me to share the experience of cooking without worry. Her concerns were less for the quality of the air we breathe and more for the joy of cooking sans concern about high temperatures and having to soak burnt-on residue off the pans.
I performed the recommended seasoning process (wash, dry and heat pan on low for thirty seconds, remove from heat and rub with vegetable oil) before my first stab at stir-frying on relatively high heat. The pan heated quickly and more evenly than any I own. Not one morsel stuck to the pan even though I seared steak and chicken on a red-hot burner.
At that point, the only negative I found with the pan was how easily the finish on the outside scratched off, revealing the aluminum core base. Several months of use down the line, I discovered the ease of Thermolon cooking required regular seasoning and some serious scrubbing after I used the wok on higher temperatures. I had the identical experience with a grill from the same initial line. Today, that wok and the grill look okay and I ventured into the realm of higher-quality GreenPan offerings.
My purchase of the Todd English Hard Anodized by GreenPan Anniversary Trio Gourmet Cookware Set followed shortly after I took the leap into hard anodized with Todd's GreenPan Gourmet Roaster. The thickness of the Gourmet line, the stainless steel riveted handles and the amazing v-shaped Thermolon-coated rack turned me into a raving lunatic of a fan. One prime rib, two turkeys and a pork roast later, I clicked my way to ordering the Anniversary Trio, which includes:
- 8-quart casserole with stainless steel lid - 11-1/8" diameter x 6-1/2" high
- 12" braiser/paella pan with stainless steel lid - 12" diameter x 2-1/2" high
- 9-1/2" open fry pan - with 8" stainless steel handle measures 17-1/2" across x 2-1/8" high
- Manufacturer's Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Documentation includes a simple Cookbook, Use and Care Guide and History of GreenPan Technology
The documentation includes more claims from the manufacturer:
"Breakthrough nonstick technology:
Cook healthier with no added butter, fat or oil in revolutionary GreenPanTM with Thermolon cookware. Chef Todd English presents the last cookware you will need to buy - with 850-degree nonstick release that doesn't break down or wear out over time."
"Intensify your passion for cooking with this innovative Todd English Hard Anodized by GreenPan Anniversary Trio Gourmet Cookware Set. The ceramic-based, nano nonstick coating in these amazing pans does not contain any PTFE, and is not manufactured with PFOA. Dishwasher safe and incredibly heat-resistant, these pans will not break down or wear out over time, even at temperatures as high as 850º. Moreover, because nothing will stick, this cookware allows you to cook healthier with no need for added butters, fats or oils."
Non-stick or not, I use butter and oils in small amounts for both flavor and the assistance they offer in helping me get food from pan to plate. I never clean my cookware, bakeware or cutlery in a dishwasher so those particular claims go unproven by this consumer. I can testify to the fact that this line can withstand extremely high stovetop temperatures, go under the broiler and stand up to extended cooking times without a whimper.
Most of my cookware falls under the stainless steel multi-clad description so discovering that water boils not only from the bottom but also from the sides of the 8-quart pot was old hat to me. I did discover these pans heat up quicker than anything in my cooking arsenal so, boiling a large amount of water takes much less time. Pre-heating the braiser to optimal temperature for searing also happened in record time, without the earlier issue of having to season the pans again after each use on high heat.
One bonus I found extremely attractive led to my ordering an additional 4.2-quart casserole in this line. Due to the belly or bowl shape of the 8-quart pot, boil-over is no longer a problem. The top of the pan is narrower than the belly, which forces liquids to drip back into the pan instead of boiling over onto the range.
Be aware that the entire line of Todd English's GreenPans are not for use on induction stovetops.
This set is hard anodized so, the marring issue mentioned above in the GreenPan base line is less of a concern. Any spotting or minor scrapes remove with a bit of elbow grease and a damp cloth. The lightweight stainless steel lids are not a tight fit but they do rest well upon the lip of the pans. The riveted stainless steel handles are solid tubes that stay cooler when used on a range and provide a nearly slipfree grip when removing the pans from an oven. Even when using heavy silicone oven mitts, there is room to spare between the handles of the casserole and braiser and the pans.
Speaking of weight, the Gourmet line is much lighter than the multi-clad stainless pans I own. That is a major consideration for those of us who rarely meet an exercise program we like and for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation.
New Technology, EPS-Friendly and The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval
The one point I want you to take away from this review is this: The hot items of today may or may not be the nightmares of tomorrow. Mid-twentieth century technology brought to the mainstream microwave ovens, Dacron polyester clothing, television, pantyhose, lava lights, hormone replacement therapy and Teflon-coated nonstick cookware, among other innovations. Some most certainly stood the test of time, some were silly and some deserve class action suits for damages caused to the consumer.
In no way am I stating that Thermolon and GreenPan technology may become a headache for us in the future. What I am saying is to consider the options and use with care. Just because a manufacturer claims a product is safe at 850-degrees does not mean we need to test it to the extreme each time we use it. GreenPan did break the 350-degree barrier with ease and the higher end Gourmet line deserves a thumbs-up with a cautionary eye to the future. Do your own research and enjoy these pans as a great addition to your culinary collection, I know I will.