T Nation

Waterless Cookware Healthier?


My bride-to-be dragged me to some cookware show where they tried to sell us a set of heavy-duty cookware, some china, flatware and crystal for over $2000. That’s way beyond our budget, but she nearly had me sold on buying just one skillet. When I saw that the skillet was going to cost me about five hundred bucks, I soon decided we could live without it.

I did some research and discovered that what they were selling was just a high-end version of what’s called “waterless cookware”. It’s stainless steel wrapped around aluminum. The idea is that the food steams in it’s own juices which is supposed to preserve a lot of the flavor and nutrients that get lost in boiling or frying.

It sounds nice, but I haven’t been able to find any hard science to back up all the glowing testimonials, so I figured I’d ask the experts before doing anything stupid.

So does anyone here use the waterless or “steam control” cookware, and what do you think? Thanks in advance for any input.

For the record, the company that almost bilked me is called Royal Prestige. Their products are, in my opinion, vastly overpriced, and their selling practices are shady to say the least.

Sounds like a gimmick. There are many many other ways to prepare food besides frying or boiling.

I haven’t tried anything cooked with this stuff, but some of my friends have and they spoke quite highly of the cookware and the way the food came out. Though, they did mention how expensive the sets and individual items can be and how its often sold through those ‘come to your house and put on a show’ set ups like Pampered Chef or whatever. But they liked it enough to ask if my wife and I would want to split the cost of a set. haha

I looked into it online and didn’t find anything in a price range I’d consider. But then again, I’m cheap and I didnt spend much time searching for information.

An All-Clad pan with a heavy lid will do the same thing, costs less, and will last a lifetime. And then a few more lifetimes after that.

Or you could just buy an electric steamer.

Supposedly the advantages of the cookware are thus:

You cook the food at a lower temperature in a vacuum created by the steam, which is supposed to help it retain nutrients.
The cooking surface is Stainless Steel, supposedly protecting the eater from the harms of leached aluminum and teflon.
Little to no water is added to the pot, thus reducing the loss of water-soluble (sp?) vitamins, etc.

At the demonstration, the salesman cooked a chicken breast in a pot pretty quick on medium temperature. He never turned it or anything, and it turned out surprisingly tasty. But it’s the nutrition side that I’m wondering about, and it’s been tough to find anyone who’s actually invested in this stuff.
Thanks for the input so far.

[quote]Cunnivore wrote:
Supposedly the advantages of the cookware are thus:

You cook the food at a lower temperature in a vacuum created by the steam, which is supposed to help it retain nutrients.
The cooking surface is Stainless Steel, supposedly protecting the eater from the harms of leached aluminum and teflon.
Little to no water is added to the pot, thus reducing the loss of water-soluble (sp?) vitamins, etc.

At the demonstration, the salesman cooked a chicken breast in a pot pretty quick on medium temperature. He never turned it or anything, and it turned out surprisingly tasty. But it’s the nutrition side that I’m wondering about, and it’s been tough to find anyone who’s actually invested in this stuff.
Thanks for the input so far.[/quote]

The vacuum claim is nonsense. When water transforms to steam it expands, (whistling kettle). The combination of aluminium for spreading the heat and SS for hardness and cleaning is good, but USD 500 is ridiculous.

If you want the best, go for a copper skillet with internal SS cladding. Better than what they showed you and even if you get shafted, it should cost you half of what you were quoted.

TQB

My top kitchen items would be:

  • cast iron skillet
  • cast iron pot (biiiig)
  • 2 and 3 qt pots
  • large teflon coated aluminium skillet (yep, I’m gonna die)

Thanks for the info TQB. I might just look into some copper or All-Clad, it sounds like good stuff. I re-examined the claims about the steam and vacuum, and you’re right of course, steam expands, which would increase the pressure rather than lower it. The best I can figure from reading various sites on the subject is that there is an airtight seal formed around the lid by the steam, then you lower the temperature, and as the steam cools off it contracts, which would create the vacuum they are talking about since air cannot get in around the lid. I still have no idea if it is better or worse as a method of cooking, but I thought it was worth asking about anyway.
Thanks again for all the info!

My sister got suckered in the same deal. After Hearing how much she had paid for the set of pans and telling me all about the health benefits that the salesman had told her, I decided to do a little research on my own.
The 2 biggest selling points he had used was

  1. Aluminum poisoning. There are a lot of studies going on about it, but still pretty inconclusive to me. Just google it and read for yourself.

  2. Teflon poisoning. Teflon is a plastic, and plastic can cause cancer. If you are using teflon pans, my advise would be that if you see it starting to peel or chip, throw it away and buy a new pan.

You can buy stainless steel pans and cookware a whole lot cheaper at any of the big stores than what these peaple are selling theirs for.

Looking at a set of these pans, I personally cannot justify the high price they are asking.
Just my opinion, good luck.
Cheers
Mepacho

[quote]mepacho wrote:

  1. Teflon poisoning. Teflon is a plastic, and plastic can cause cancer. If you are using teflon pans, my advise would be that if you see it starting to peel or chip, throw it away and buy a new pan.

Mepacho[/quote]

There was a great deal of concern on this subject recently in the FDA, specifically over a chemical called PFOA. PFOA is toxic, and is used in the manufacturing of teflon cookware. The thing is, PFOA is destroyed at temperatures of around 400 degrees. When teflon cookware is made, it is heated to well over that temperature to cure the treatment and make it permanent and sufficiently hardened. The actual risk at this point is very low, and proper cooking technique reduces it even further.

Basically, treat your cookware right and you won’t have any issues with teflon poisoning, as there is little to no evidence to support it. By proper technique I mean don’t burn the everloving hell out of a pan, and try not to heat it up dry. Also, quality teflon cookware is one place where it is most definitely worth the extra money, as the application process is often much higher quality and far less likely to have teflon bits come off(which is already a low possibility).

Alternately, go to Target and look for their multi-layer pans. I got a 10 and 12 inch stainless skillet that has a layer of copper, aluminum, then stainless steel, all for a grand total of about $40 for both. They work great, very heavyweight. All-Clad is great stuff, but I think the price is somewhat ridiculous.

Anyway, I’m somewhat tired of companies using alarmist bullshit to sell a product. There is always a more cost effective manner of doing things.

these guys came to my in-laws house and cooked dinner as a presentation. the food was good, but chicken and veggies is always good so who knows…

…they also made claims about the superior quality of their steel, which is supposed to be way better than even t-304…

just cook everything in olive oil, cant go wrong

My wife got a steamer that consists of a wok shaped pot with a flat bottom and a quarter inch ledge toward the top that supports a grate that you put food on and a large upside down bowl shaped lid that fits snugly into another small ledge just above and outside the one that supports the grate. It has a valve on the top of the lid that can be either open or closed depending on whether you want the steam to escape or not. Only tried things like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and stuff like that , but it works great at steaming food to preserve the nutrients over boiling or frying. 3 bux at a garage sale. I’m sure it’s not as cool as one of these pans and probably doesn’t cook any kind of meat as well either, but there’s not a 497 dollar difference to me.

–Tiribulus->