Carbon Steel Pans and Wooden Chopping Boards

New equipment in our kitchen:

  • De Buyer Mineral B Pro carbon steel pans.
  • John Lewis carbon steel wok.
  • Various wooden chopping boards (to replace old plastic boards).

Carbon steel pans 

I’ve replaced most of our non-stick frying pans with carbon steel pans*. I’d been on the fence but this post from Just One Cookbook convinced me. It links to a documentary that talks about the perils of non-stick. I didn’t click on it. I just want pans that should last a lifetime.

Years ago, I invested heavily in Le Creuset’s toughened non-stick pans. They eventually lost their non-stick abilities and needed constant seasoning. I reasoned that if I have to season I may as well get carbon steel.

I took Just One Cookbook’s recommendation and went for De Buyer Mineral B Pro pans. My peeling Ikea OUMBÄRLIG has been replaced with a John Lewis uncoated wok. So far they’ve been brilliant. You can see in the photos that they haven’t built up an even coat of seasoning but hopefully that will come with time. All three pass the egg test.

A small thing - I’m not convinced that hot water and a scraper is always enough to clean carbon steel. You might disagree; it’s a controversial topic. Some Redditors, helpful as ever, claimed that a tiny bit of soap won’t remove a pan’s seasoning. I’ve found this to be true but I only use soap when I have to. A gentle scrub with a softened steel scourer works too.

* I have a small non-stick pan that I use for scrambled eggs because I find it impossible to cook them in carbon steel.  

Wooden chopping boards

Anyone who knows me will know of my enormous enthusiasm for the Arnold Schwarzenegger newsletter. He used to send an email every few months but suddenly emails appeared Monday to Friday and Arnold was joined by editors-in-chief, Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell. I was sceptical as I get too many emails already but it instantly became a favourite. 

Of course they talk about weightlifting and exercise but there’s loads more. They cover all cornerstones of health, like sleep, food (not just protein), mental health and relationships. It feels, to my scientifically uneducated brain, informative, reasonable and backed by good quality studies. If something is based on a single study they make it clear. Mostly they call for tried and tested boring moderation. I love it.

I’d been thinking about replacing my old, plastic Ikea chopping boards when I came across this piece from the 7th November 2023 newsletter:

“It might be time to swap out a common household item.

Research suggests that your cutting board is an overlooked source of microplastics, which could harm your health.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that can potentially affect your cells, cause chronic inflammation or infection, and might be linked to different diseases. While our bodies appear to be very good at fighting microplastics and keeping our bodies safe, the growing concern is that too much exposure over too much time could lead to issues.

Scientists analyzed 12 cutting boards from various materials, including wood, plastic, and glass, to assess their potential as a source of microplastic contamination. The plastic cutting boards had far more microplastics than the other options. When they tested the toxicity of the plastics on mice, there wasn’t a negative impact. But they weren’t testing for the impact of accumulation over time.

As we discuss frequently, it’s important not to overthink or stress too much about hypothetical outcomes or dangers. We all are exposed to microplastics, even if you use a wood or glass cutting board. So, the goal isn’t to live in fear or think that your body is fragile or at severe risk. At the same time, you want to be aware so you can make small changes that might have a protective effect on your health. In general, it’s a good idea to try and limit potential endocrine disruptors, which include microplastics. If possible, substituting a non-plastic cutting board could expose you to almost ten times fewer microplastics.”

This is why I subscribe to the newsletter. There’s a lot of “Hey, we noticed this thing but don’t stress, we just wanted to make you aware so you can make an informed choice”.

I took it as a sign and picked up some cheap and easily replaceable wooden (not bamboo) chopping boards in various sizes. Mostly from Dunelm and Ikea (SMÅÄTA is my favourite - it's versatile and beautiful). The only downsides are that they occasionally need oiling* and they can’t go in the dishwasher (I tested with FASCINERA and it split).

That’s it for the equipment update. This isn’t a post to suggest that anyone needs to replace anything and there are no affiliate links. It’s just stuff we’re currently using in our kitchen. 

* We bought food grade wood oil but apparently vegetable oil is fine.

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