Frequently I’m asked, “Heather, what cookware do you recommend?” I find it a difficult question to answer. I have my set I’ve used for years to which I’ve slowly been adding a few enameled cast-iron pieces, and of course I have experience with restaurant grade equipment. At this time I don’t have a large enough budget, no matter how fun it might be, to run out and test various grades of cookware. When a company contacts me and asks if I would be willing to review their cookware, I accept. This allows me to experiment without robbing banks. -I’m not condoning bank robbery and probably shouldn’t joke about it since it seems to be happening frequently around here.- Where was I?
Let’s take a moment to make the FTC happy: A representative of Ceramcor sent me an Xtrema Ceramic Wok 3-piece set to try.
The pros and cons below are based on my impressions, experience, and warped mind.
- Nonstick surface without the worry of hazardous fumes
Some nonstick surfaces, like Teflon®, can create toxic fumes if overheated. With a ceramic surface, this is a non-issue. It’s nonstick, just like enameled cast iron.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about enameled cast iron is the weight. Have you ever gone to pick up a full container and almost thrown it or lost your balance because it turned out to be empty? I had the same experience. I own a few enameled iron pieces. I went to pick up the wok and nearly sent it flying because it was so much lighter than I expected. Don’t worry, this only happens once or twice.
- Even heat distribution
Some poorly made pots and pans are warped and develop hot spots that increase the likelihood of scorching. The Xtrema pan is well constructed and distributes heat well.
- Heats quickly
I won’t lie, sometimes I get a little annoyed waiting for my enameled iron dutch oven to heat. This was significantly faster, yet retained heat longer than a nonstick set I had in the past.
- Safe for many cooking surfaces
The ceramic cookware is safe for smooth top ranges, the oven, the grill, and gas or electric ranges, too.
- Won’t scratch easily
Unlike Teflon®, there is no walking on eggshells. You shouldn’t use metal utensils, but unless you’re abusive toward your cookware, it should remain scratch free.
- 50 year warranty for breakage due to temperature change.
Have you ever broken a pizza stone? I had one go the other day when a certain teenager set it on a hot burner. I was simply out of luck there. This isn’t a concern, with the Xtrema line. There is also a 1 year manufacturing defect warranty for imperfections. If you don’t notice it after a year, maybe you should have been cooking more.
It’s not cheap, $399 for 16 piece set, but this does have a caveat. The price point may be high if you’re looking at low-end nonstick cookware. However if you’ve been checking out name brand enameled cast iron, it’s pretty competitive.
Looks are extremely subjective. I’m simply not drawn to the style. Thankfully looks don’t affect performance.
- The name sort of makes me want to scream, “NOZ!” and reach for a Monster Energy Drink, but that could just be me.
I would recommend this set, especially if you’ve been considering enameled cast iron, but find it too heavy for daily use.
*Edit* Eugene asked about the handle, I’m not sure how it is attached and I will send in the question to the representative. I couldn’t remember if the handle became hot or not, so I did a test run a few moment ago. First I heated the empty pan until water sizzled. The handle remained cool. Then I filled the wok 2/3s full with water and brought to a roiling boil -why you use a wok in this manner is beyond me, but it made a good test- and the handle still remained cool to the touch.