John Venn wrote:Hey guys, very late to the party, but I have collected a whole range of cast iron cookware made by Le Creuset by checking second hand shops and second hand websites. They often go for a fraction of the price of a new one, which can be very substantial for Le Creuset.
You have to sift through some that are chipped or have some pitting in the bottom but these do not affect your health as the anti-stick coating is made of glass/ceramic so it is only an esthetic issue (I do prefer mine in good condition and with some patience and regularly checking the shops you can find them.)
Le Creuset also has an awesome custumor support. I bought a second hand skillet with a loose wooden handle that I tried to tighten at home and broke the screw running through the handle, securing the skillet to the handle. Got a new handle, for free (!), through customer support, even though it is a version they do not make anymore, as a Le Creuset pan comes with a life time garantee. Speaking about permaculture...
Hi John, great idea on second-hand Le Creuset. I have a couple of items myself. They're really pricey new and it's a great idea to look for them in second-hand shops/sites.
As far as I know, all Le Creuset pieces are coated cast iron. On the outside coated with painted stuff, on the inside with either black stuff or white stuff. I used to be really confident that the inside stuff was "good" stuff, inert like glass. I thought that basically enamel = ceramic = glass as far as toxic gick goes. But then someone warned me of a number of toxic elements that could potentially be in enamel, and since then I am not as confident in these surfaces. The Le Creuset inside surfaces are really, really long lasting, gotta give them credit for that, but I haven't seen where they actually say what it's composed of. I suppose that's what they call a "trade secret" these days, but call me over-curious, I actually want to know.
And color me skeptical, but I'm not much comforted by affirmations of "no PFOA" or freedom from whatever toxic compound they choose to name. I'm concerned about the toxic compounds it DOES contain but no one is mentioning because they don't have to because trade secrets yada yada. /rant
So I'm kinda confident about my Le Creuset cookware but not totally.
Just so people know, in recent years, I have found Le Creuset knockoffs in European Ikea stores (Lord, please don't let word get out to my permie friends that I occasionally go to Ikea!). "Made in France" say these knockoffs, so I imagine they are actually made in the Le Creuset factory but wholesaled out for other brands like Ikea to sell as their own. I've also seen (and bought) Pyrex cookware in Europe that I'd swear was made by Le Creuset, but it didn't have a "Made in France" imprint, so that one is a bit more sketchy. Same deal with the coatings though, I really want to know what's in them. Not what they don't have, what they do have. Pretty please Mr. Manufacturer.
Plain old uncoated cast iron, I have a skillet of those too, I also worry about a little bit. Most people, I think, have too much iron in their blood, and I think that if you're not pretty careful about what you actually cook in cast iron (no acidic stuff like tomato sauce for starters), you might be at risk of overdoing the iron in your blood, which is not good for your health. The solution to which I believe is donating blood regularly, that drops your iron levels. But anyway, lately I'm liking the alternative of uncoated stainless steel rather than cast iron.
I am not a doctor nor a lawyer nor a metallurgist, but as far as I know food-grade stainless is more inert and less porous than cast iron, so you don't have to be concerned about making acidic foods in it, and also, whatever unhealthy anything might be in the metal is much less likely to slag off into your food.
I've got a good number of uncoated steel pots and pans now. You can see an example of an uncoated stainless steel omelette pan if you scroll up to the first picture above this post, in a post by David Livingston. Hanging there in the middle of the bottom row is a steel omelette pan like French chefs think everyone in the world should have. I have one just like it. If you treat plain stainless steel pans like you would cast iron, they behave just the same. Season them, don't use soap, etc. Another advantage is you don't have to worry about rust, so I just air dry them, whereas I heat my cast iron skillet to dry it. They're perfectly non-stick if you treat them right and last forever, just like cast iron, and unlike the consumerist non-stick coated crap you see so much of.