Pans that sizzle and fizzle

FRESNO, Calif.

Consumer Reports tested the T-fal, along with more than a dozen other kinds of nonstick cookware.

In a test that assesses how evenly a pan cooks, The pancake in the T-fal pan turned out somewhat blotchy.

Another concern is how well the nonstick coating on the pans will last. To test that, pans are heated to around 400° F and then scrubbed with steel wool. Some look pretty good even after 2,000 passes. But the coating on the T-fal wore away pretty quickly, and pans from the EarthPan II and EarthPan Plus cookware sets did even worse.

But interestingly, another EarthPan did better in the scrub test. It's the EarthPan Hard Anodized set, a Best Buy at $170. It also rates very good for cooking food evenly.

There's been concern that nonstick pans with the chemical PTFE can release potentially harmful chemicals when heated. The manufacturer of EarthPan cookware claims its nonstick coating is free of PTFE. Consumer Reports' past tests of pans with PTFE show that under normal cooking conditions, levels of harmful chemicals are quite low. Nevertheless, if a pan with a nonstick coating starts to flake, Consumer Reports advises discarding it.

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