In addition to the nutritional properties of the food we eat and offer to our children and the healthiest cooking method, another of the questions that parents ask ourselves regarding the feeding of our little ones is the one related to cooking and storing food. What are the best containers for cooking and storing food? Do you know the importance of choosing a suitable container to store children's food?
For years, plastic containers for storing food have been the most used in food. Its advantages mainly include its resistance and durability. However, today, we know that plastics have drawbacks that make them a questionable safety option.
Depending on their composition, these containers can release toxic compounds into the food or drink they contain. In addition, heat increases the release of particles to food, making the microwave or dishwasher potentially dangerous, but situations as common as leaving a bottle of water in the sun are also a problem.
Specifically, bisphenol A is one of the components of plastics that has recently been eliminated from food containers, but plastics free of bisphenol or phthalates (a chemical compound that is added to plastics like PVC to make them more moldable ), unfortunately represent a danger similar to that of bisphenol.
Phthalates affect the production of hormones and in some studies it has been observed that they affect fertility, especially in men, reducing the viability of sperm. Furthermore, they are linked to the development of liver and breast cancer, while bisphenol is additionally linked to prostate cancer and can potentially cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Is there a 100% safe plastic? Unfortunately not, so the best options for food storage are glass or stainless steel containers. The former have the advantage of being able to be used to heat food, some in the oven and microwave, and to store it in the freezer. Stainless steel containers cannot be used in the microwave, and, depending on the manufacturer, they may or may not be used to heat food. At the same time, both have an obvious disadvantage, and that is that the lid is usually made of plastic, but we can be careful and control that it does not come into contact with the food, in addition to washing it by hand instead of the dishwasher.
For cooking, the options are much greater, but none of them is 100% perfect, so it is better to have more than one alternative available to choose the most appropriate when frying, baking or cooking.
Used since the mid-1900s, the appearance of this non-stick material was a before and after in the kitchen. Although originally it was supposed to be a completely safe material that made cooking easier and cleaner, it has subsequently been discovered that its durability is limited and the moment it begins to deteriorate, it releases compounds dangerous to health.
Despite having been a widely used material in recent decades, little by little it has been replaced by other safer materials. It is a very light and inexpensive material, but aluminum is a highly toxic heavy metal for the body, where it accumulates in the brain. Its accumulation is related to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
These utensils are on the rise today, as they are the most harmless to health. However, its main drawback is the care it requires, in addition to the absence of non-stick, which limits its use in the kitchen. Coated ceramic is non-stick, but has the problem of the origin of the coating, which could be questionable if it contains heavy metals.
- Enamelled pots
These pots are normally made of cast iron with a ceramic glaze, and are one of the safest materials today, although it obviously depends on the material used for the coating, as some contain lead and cadmium. Utensils made of steel and coated with ceramic enamel - providing the property of stainless steel - are also usually very easy to clean.
- Molten iron
One of the most versatile - suitable for direct cooking over a heat source and even an oven - this material, in case of releasing something to food, releases iron, which is a lesser evil. It is therefore one of the safest cooking materials today. They are very resistant and durable, although, as a counterpoint, they are usually expensive. Additionally, they are difficult to clean pots and pans, and many detergents can damage their surfaces. Another major drawback is that they are very heavy pots and pans that can give strange flavors to acidic foods such as tomatoes and, when you want to achieve non-stickiness, it is necessary to heat the pan before adding the food.
- Stoneware ceramic
These containers are made of a ceramic paste composed of different natural clays that usually contain silica and feldspar. In addition to being safe, they are casseroles that, if they are well cared for, are very durable, but unfortunately, good quality ones are not very cheap.
A material used since ancient times, which in addition to being safe, if it is baked clay without coatings with toxic components, gives a delicious homemade flavor to food. Being relatively cheap, the only drawback of this material is that they are relatively fragile and usually require longer than normal cooking times.
In recent years, pure titanium pans and pots have appeared. Today, with current studies, they are considered one of the highest quality options, healthier, more durable and that in addition to being non-stick (they usually have a Teflon coating that can be their great drawback), they can allow cooking without oil. However, they are relatively expensive, and given their recent appearance, it is very likely that new data on their use will appear in the coming years, especially regarding the coating used in the most affordable pans and pots.
Completely safe based on present data, glass may be somewhat limited when cooking as, depending on individual manufacturer recommendations, it may not be usable on all heat sources. However, it is not excessively expensive, so it can be a good option to cook in the oven and store in the fridge.
The silicone is not suitable for direct cooking on a heat source, but only for the oven. If the silicone is of good quality (it must be verified with the manufacturer that it is free of chemicals), it is a potentially safe material, although there are not enough studies to affirm that at high temperatures it does not release chemical compounds of certain toxicity. However, if it can be used in containers or bags to refrigerate or freeze food (at these temperatures studies suggest that it is a safe material) or for other types of cold cooking (cakes, jellies ...), since it is, in addition, a non-stick material.
- Stainless steel
It is a potentially safe material, but it is still a heavy metal, and if we want to avoid these metals (especially since it can release nickel and chromium to food), it is better to look for other options. Stainless steel poses a greater hazard when cooking acidic foods, or cooking at very high temperatures and / or for a long time. Today, stainless steel is one of the most affordable options for the consumer, combining safety with a relatively affordable price.
In terms of comfort, perhaps the best pots and pans are those that are non-stick, such as stoneware or enameled iron, although their price may be somewhat exorbitant to be the only ones in the kitchen. In terms of safety, the scale leans towards clay, glass or ceramic, although they are not non-stick and their use may be restricted to certain kitchens and types of cooking.
After all this information that we have just given you, you only have to check your kitchen cabinets well and decide, from now on, where save children's food and how to prepare it.
You can read more articles similar to The danger of certain containers where we keep children's food, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.