I offer this experience to those of you who are looking to buy safe cookware.

In 2008 I spent the summer living in a tiny studio apartment at the top of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. I remember this because I needed a few things to cook with in a kitchen that was basically built into the space the size of a standard clothes closet. That summer, the hot new thing was the Cuisinart Green Gourmet skillets with a new “ceramic” nonstick coating.

I immediately took a bus down to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought one. I totally loved it. Those of you who have been reading my recommendations for a while know how excited I was about it. Nontoxic and nonstick. Not only nonstick, but I could make omelettes without butter, the pan was so slippery. So slippery, in fact, sometimes the food would slide right out of the pan when I was stirring it!

Today, Bed Bath and Beyond carries half a dozen brands of cookware with ceramic coating, but I’ve decided to no longer recommend them.

green-gourmet-old

My original Green Gourmet pan after six years of use.

Let me tell you why.

First, yes, they are not toxic. But they don’t last.

The slippery finish has long since worn off. The finish is pitted from one use of a metal utensil. It’s no longer nonstick. It functions fine as a skillet. But it’s no longer a nonstick skillet.

Cuisinart will replace your skillet when it’s no longer nonstick. It has a lifetime warranty. But you have to ship your skillet back to them before they send you a new one and pay the shipping both ways. It cost less for me to buy a new one.

Recently I was in Bed Bath and Beyond looking at the latest brand of cookware with a nonstick ceramic finish and the salesperson told me something interesting. He said the rep for this line told him that cooking with olive oil degrades the finish! That’s not widely known.

But there is a better line of cookware and that is Xtrema Cookware. I think I got my first Xtrema skillet that same year, and today it is still like new. Not quite as shiny, but the finish is just the same.

Here’s the difference between Xtrema and Green Gourmet. Xtrema is ceramic through and through. The finish is part of the pan, not something that breaks down. Extremely high quality workmanship.

Today I continue to use my Xtrema cookware and no longer use my Green Gourmet. I’ll leave it up on Debra’s List because it qualifies as being toxic-free, but it’s not a durable product. And I imagine all the other lines have the same problem, because they are all using the same ceramic technology.

Xtrema is the #1 cookware I use in my kitchen. Here’s my collection…

My Xtrema cookware, photographed in my kitchen

My Xtrema cookware, photographed in my kitchen

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