Something old, something new – scrambled eggs make Katie blue.
We’re not getting married, just on the hunt for the pan to kick out the Teflon once and for all.
We eat a lot of eggs here at the Kimball house, particularly since we’ve gone grain-free and gluten-free on elimination diets. I’d say 2-5 breakfasts a week are scrambled eggs, so if my cast iron pan takes 5-10 minutes to clean up after a scrambled egg meal…can I still do math? Go, Mommy brain, go!
That’s potentially almost an hour a week just scrubbing eggs out of a pan.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have even an extra half hour lying around.
Besides that, on a bad day with cast iron and eggs, I feel like nearly an entire egg gets stuck to the pan and thrown down the drain. My food budget is expanding enough already with a growing 7-year-old boy and a hefty one-year-old who loves meat. I can’t be throwing a 33-cent egg in the garbage 2-5 times a week.
My “something old” isn’t going so well for eggs.
The “something new” gives off fumes that kill birds within second and uses an adhesive that’s strongly linked to cancer and reproductive issues (Teflon).
This summer I got the opportunity to test something old, that’s new.
I had an opportunity to review the Xtrema ceramic 10″ skillet that I received as a product sample from Ceramcor, and my hope was that it be a substitute replacement for a non-stick pan.
It’s an interesting cross between old – clay-based ceramic, triple fired and glazed; and new – when was anything so shiny in biblical times, for example? In my estimation, cooking in clay pots is as old as dirt (pun intended), but the glaze that makes the pot much less sticky is an unknown. I haven’t been able to find exactly what it’s made of.
What I do know: Xtrema’s products were deemed “non-leaching” by an independent lab and had far lower than acceptable levels of lead and cadmium. So even if I don’t understand exactly what’s in the glaze, I know what’s not in there.
Why is Ceramic Cookware Safe?
We’ve talked a lot this week about safe cookware, and what we seem to have discovered is that many surfaces leach chemicals or heavy metals into the food, and others form toxic gases at high heats. It’s tough to find the magic bullet that actually cooks well and doesn’t have any health risk question surrounding it!
From Xtrema’s website, here are the benefits of cooking with ceramic:
- No leaching (big one!!!)
- Super high temps – can withstand over 2000 degrees of heat!
- Non-scratch surface – you can use metal utensils and even steel wool or abrasive cleaners
- Goes anywhere: freezer, grill, oven, microwave, dishwasher
- Keeps food hot longer
It’s just about impossible to find a product that doesn’t have at least some detractors or negative research. Even cast iron may leach too much, according to some. Dr. Mercola, who is sometimes a bit of a quack but really conservative in his opinions, chooses ceramic as the *only* safe cookware, including cast iron. I won’t buy that hook, line, and sinker, but it adds credibility to ceramic (although Mercola sells the stuff, too, which takes away a little credibility in my book).
But How Does Ceramic Cookware Really Work?
I’ll be honest: even after a few months with the pan in the house, I’m still getting used to it.
- They’re both really heavy (Xtrema’s website will tell you it’s lightweight; on that point, they’re very wrong)
- They’re both clunky to store in the cupboard
- They both take some elbow grease to get eggs off
- They both have to be preheated for a minute or two before adding the food
When I realized that there was a little rise in the center of the ceramic pan, I was put off. I do not like that shape of pan, and in fact, that was one reason why I got rid of my enameled cast iron pan. It sends scrambled eggs toward the edges where the heat is less intense, and it bugs me.
Because of that initial bad taste in my mouth, the pan stayed in the cupboard more often than it came out. I felt it had failed as a non-stick scrambled eggs pan, and that was my major goal in testing it out.
Trying the Ceramic Skillet Again
This week I realized I needed to give the ceramic skillet a fair shake again and really see how it held out against cast iron.
I used it to make two dishes that I did exactly the same way in the cast iron and determined which one was (a) easier to cook on and (b) took less time to clean.
The photo above was a delicious lunch: sauteed red and green peppers and onions, sweet potato, and crisped Swiss chard with an egg on top. Luckily I have a lid that fits the pan so I can cook the egg properly.
I had made the same meal with cast iron the week before, and they cooked rather similarly. (i.e. I burned the greens slightly both times. I get distracted a lot!)
The Xtrema pan took the gold medal by a longshot on “easy to clean” though. It was probably one minute to cast iron’s 5 minutes.
I made homemade chicken nuggets (already cooked, then pan fried in coconut oil) before these photos, and I’m almost wondering if that goodly amount of fat helped to “season” the ceramic, similar to cast iron, even though you’re not supposed to have to do that.
The Ceramic Skillet Takes on Eggs
The big question that I (and many in the comments) really want to know the answer to is: what’s the alternative to yucky non-stick pans that can actually handle a (fairly) mess-free batch of scrambled eggs?
Observe Xtrema (and please pardon the photo quality; 7 a.m. is not the best lighting, nor am I entirely lucid at that point):
You can see that there is some sticking, but there is in my Teflon pan, too. The bottom of the pan is not completely coated in eggs.
I heated the pan for one minute before starting (following directions) and used about 2 Tbs. butter before adding the eggs.
This is the result after a batch of eggs. Not bad.
I was able to scrape most of it off in 30 seconds.
Here’s the real test: we did THREE batches of eggs that morning. Cast iron would have been a mess OR would have needed to be cleaned well three times.
I made more eggs for my husband:
You can see the “non-stick” action below the cooking eggs.
And the aftermath, which is really quite doable.
This is the pan after cooking another egg for the 4-year-old without using the scraper in between.
Because you can use soap on ceramic AND whatever scrubbing tool you want, and you don’t have to “season” it with oil afterward, I’m putting it well ahead of cast iron in the scrambled eggs race.
Hands down, it’s just easier.
It’s no Teflon in terms of convenience.
It’s no Teflon in the bird-killing category either, so, like many things in the traditional foods lifestyle, I have to spend a little more time to get something worthwhile.
This is the cast iron after cooking only one batch of eggs with the same amount of fat, then scraping:
It took at least 5 minutes to clean up completely.
The biggest downfall of the ceramic at this point, for me, is that the skillet costs about $100 without the lid.
It does have a 50-year warranty and should hold up under just about any stress, so hopefully, like cast iron, you’ll be able to pass it on to your great-grandchildren.
My Continued Testing of the Ceramic Skillet
After several years of continued use, I have good news, bad news.
After the ceramic skillet‘s success in my side-by-side test with cast iron, I started using my Xtrema pan regularly for eggs, and I really, really like it. It cleans up as well. Almost as well as Teflon, and I’m so happy with it.
Was so happy. Unfortunately, the bad news is that we won’t be passing this baby on to our grandchildren.
We often run out of room in our dish rack for pots and pans and so we just let them dry upside down on the stove. One morning when my husband was putting away dishes, he heard a crash behind him. No one will ever know if he bumped the pan or the act of closing the drawer near the stove jostled it, but no matter – the pan crashed to the ground, and we discovered a HUGE drawback to ceramic. It breaks. Quickly. And completely. One wrong bump and you’re out a hundred bucks. Le sigh.
It took me a while to decide if I was going to spring for another one or not, and carry the same risk of it being obliterated (or not) but I did eventually buy another Xtrema skillet to replace the broken one. I like having it for times when cast iron just isn’t the right choice.
We used cast iron for scrambled eggs for a while before I chose to buy a new Xtrema. But my husband complained about cleaning the cast iron – the rules of which are some sort of an insurmountable enigma to him – so often that he became exempt, meaning that if I make a mess in the cast iron pan, I have to clean it later.
His quote: “I hate cleaning the cast iron!” Why? You can’t use soap, you have to dry it on the stovetop and oil it, and that takes extra time, it takes lots of scrubbing usually…
He’s a fan of Xtrema’s pan, and I think we’ll be using it more often now that I’ve proven that I’m happier with it, too.
I’m also a fan of the company, whose founder is not afraid to be open about their story and have the goal to “honor and glorify God.” I feel like it’s not that often that you see a big company based in faith, and that adds trust, in my book.
NOTE: I know how to clean and care for cast iron. I know no soap. I know my pan is not seasoned very well, but I have tried. I’ve baked it with oil, just not at 500 for hours. I’ve made french fries in it so that it’s deep with straight oil. I’ll keep trying! But the comments are rife with advice… 😉
Disclosure: The pan was a free product review from Xtrema, but no money changed hands. I am an affiliate of Amazon. See my full disclosure statement here.
If you appreciated the balance and depth of the review you just read, you will love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!