This page outlines all of my recommendations for the kitchen, but to learn more about why I chose the cookware below, read this post about stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, and more. I share details, pros and cons of the safest and least toxic cookware materials available – namely ceramic or glazed enamel, cast iron or carbon steel ironware, glass, and unglazed clay*.
Ceramic cookware such as the Xtrema/Ceramcor and Le Creuset brands use glazes that contain aluminum, but other than the fact that I wish we could stop using aluminum, I don’t think it poses a health risk. Cast iron and carbon steel do pose a risk in that iron does leach into your food. Glass is a very safe material except it is more fragile and prone to break when under temperature changes. Stainless steel is considered safe by many, but I’d rather have iron leach into my food than the nickel and other metals used in the stainless steel alloys. But, if you’re at higher risk for excess iron, you might feel differently. *I’m still not sure what to think of unglazed clay. Some seem to think its the worset, and some think it’s the best – as I have really no way to tell, I can’t recommend it or disprove of it.
Cookware, for 1 – 2 people
For choosing cookware sizes, I found www.CenturyLife.org to be very helpful. Each pan type/size I recommend has multiple options listed — in ceramic, enameled cast iron, cast iron, carbon steel, glass, etc. I would use all of these pans, but only you can decide what cooking surface you’re comfortable using.
- Skillet or Saute Pan: 3 sizes
- ceramic – Xtrema brand 7″, 9.5″, and 11″, OR
- high carbon steel 8″, 10″, and 12″ (high carbon Steel – Blanc Creatives, Blu Skillet, or De Buyer brand, or low carbon steel SolidTeknics).
- cast iron – (Field Company 10.25″ pan (No. 8) 4.5 lbs. 11.5″ pan, 6 lbs., or Stargazer, 10.5″ – 5.2 pounds., or SolidTeknics – update 2/13/18: the company has said that they have retired their cast iron production due to manufacturing challenges in Australia. Find out more about cast iron brands here.
- Universal lid
- Saucepan: ~ 1.5 quart
- ceramic: Xtrema brand 1.5 quart, for warming single servings of soup or miso, and cooking side dishes like rice.
- Saucepan – shallow: ~ 2 quart
- enameled cast iron: Le Creuset brand 2.25 quart. I don’t recommend Xtrema for this size, because I don’t like how deep it is…I like a more shallow pan for this size.
- Saucepan ~ 3 quart
- Stockpot or dutch oven, 6-8 quarts
- enameled cast iron: Le Creuset brand 7.25 quart, 12.8 lbs. Before buying, read online to see what colors have the least lead.
- enameled steel: Le Creuset brand: 6 or 8 quart, I don’t know how much these weigh
- cast iron: Lodge brand 7 quart, 18 lbs
- carbon steel: SolidTeknics brand is planning to release a 7 quart low carbon steel pot sometime in 2018, which will have a 13.8″ diameter opening. and hold approx. 7.4 quarts.
- Please note that both cast iron and carbon steel pots would leach iron into your food, particularly acidic foods or stews which require long cooking times, whereas an enameled cast iron stockpot would not. Unfortunately Xtrema doesn’t offer a pot in this size. Their closest size is 5.5 quarts.
Cookware, for 3 – 4 people, add the following
- Saute pan – shallow: 3.5+ quart – useful for reducing large batches of leafy greens down to size. Listed from lightest to heaviest:
- enameled cast iron: Le Creuset brand 3.5 quart with glass lid 5.2 lbs, or 3.75 quart with enameled cast iron lid 13.6 lbs, or 5 quart with enameled cast iron lid 14.7 lbs
- carbon steel – Blanc Creative brand: 3.5 quart Saucier 13″ pan, height 3″ (5.7 lbs)
- carbon steel – Blu Skillet Ironworks brand 3 quart French 13″ pan, height 2.13″ (5.9 lbs)
- ceramic – Xtrema brand 4.75 quart: height 2.75″, Bottom Diameter: 11″ (10 lbs)
- Stockpot – large: 8-12 quart. For larger families, or if you want leftovers, you may need larger.
- ceramic – Xtrema brand 10 quart, 12″ diameter opening, 6″ tall, 10.5 lbs.
- enameled steel – Le Creuset brand 8 or 10 quart, I don’t know how much these weigh
- stainless steel – Fissler Pro Original brand 10.9 quart. I wouldn’t recommend stainless steel, but if you really can’t lift the ones above…
- I don’t recommend a cast iron or enameled cat iron pot in this size because wielding a cast iron or cast iron enamel pot heavier than 15 pounds is unrealistic for me.
- Casserole dish
- Pie or cornbread pans
- glass: Anchor Hocking or Pyrex pie pan
- carbon steel: Blanc Creatives brand 10″ diameter, 8″ cooking surface Saucier with two handles, 3.8 lbs – this is 1.25″ high, which is the most typical height for a pie pan.
- carbon steel: Blu Skillet Ironware brand 10″ Gratin pan with two handles, 3.8 lbs – this one is 2″ high
- Griddle or Cookie Sheet
- Bread Pan
- Mixing Bowls
- Immersion Blender
- ceramic: Xtrema brand 2.5 quart
- Salt dish – I like to keep my salt handy, but it’s good to have something with a cover, especially if you have forced heat in your house – super dusty!
- Handmade wood bowls and plates – I know of only one man in North America that is turning wood bowls and plates on a foot-powered lathe — his name is Kiko and he hails from Oregon. Check out his etsy shop! I recommend his 8″ soup bowls and 10″ plates. He finishes them with raw linseed oils (free of heavy metal driers which are added to ‘boiled’ linseed oil). If you can’t work with him, I highly recommend Jarrod Dahl of Wood Spirit Handcraft from Marais, MN. If neither of them are available, try Holland Bowl Mill or Don of Dead Tree Woodworks from Freeland, Michigan.
- Corelle plates & bowls (tested lead-free by Tamara Rubin). Tamara said to stay away from their mugs though.
- HF Coors plates & bowls, and mugs (tested lead-free by Tamara Rubin).
To keep all of your cookware and bakeware in its safe condition, use only wooden utensils. Wether you are using ceramic, enameled cast iron, seasoned cast iron or carbon steel, stainless steel or non-stick pots and pans (I never recommend non-stick, no matter the safety claims), wood utensils will not damage the protective surface nearly as much as metal utensils will. Once you damage the protective layer of any cookware, you are exposing yourself to whatever lies within or underneath. Wooden utensils provide us with an easy way to protect ourselves, and increase the longevity of cookware or seasoning on our cookware. These handmade wooden utensils may seem expensive, but they will last a very long time if you don’t put them in the dishwasher. They are also beautiful to behold, and make the kitchen more peaceful. I also like supporting crafters who are keeping skills alive for the next generation.
- Egg beater or whisk
- Mixing spoon
- Frying spatula
- Scraping spatula – 12″, 10″, 9.25″, or 7.5″
- Mixing paddle 13″
- Calibrated wood measuring cup
- Tablespoon / teaspoon, or set of measuring spoons, you also might find them here
Use cotton or natural fiber cloths only. We have enough micro plastic pollution in all of our water (we are literally eating and drinking our fleece jackets and all other synthetic textiles). You many not notice, but when you use cloths or sponges of any material, synthetic of natural, tiny fibers come off and go down the drain, so use natural fibers only if you don’t want micro plastic fibers in our lakes, rivers, soil, and you insides! Use a fresh cloth every day, putting the used one to dry until laundry day. Why a new cloth every day? — Drying out a dish cloth overnight helps kill many–but not all–pathogens. It could take three days of drying a typical cotton cloth to kill all microbes, so if you continue to re-use your dishcloth every day, you will be re-populating the surfaces of your kitchen with various bacteria with every wipe.
I prefer my textiles to be undyed and understated. I recommend dish cloths and dish drying towels from www.GoodLinens.com. After a trip through the washer and dryer, all of the towels absorb quickly — especially once they become a bit damp. Linen can absorb a lot of water, up to 20 times the fabric’s weight. Their two-layered towels don’t snag more than any other dish towel.