Teflon is a chemical coating applied to cookware in the manufacturing process that helps keep food from sticking to surfaces. Teflon has been used in cookware since 1960 and has received full FDA approval. However, many health-conscious bakers are nervous about its possible health effects, which could be of a serious nature.
Many bakers want Teflon-free bread machines, but they are difficult to find. This article will explain why many people worry about the presence of Teflon in their bread machines and offer some alternatives for devices that are either free of the chemical or safer to use.
The bread-baking trend is still going strong. Many bakers moved away from their bread machines to making bread by hand. However, people who no longer work from home or who have other tasks needing their attention still want fresh bread.
Many home bakers who have tried to make bread by hand have been frustrated by the time commitment and the number of steps needed to achieve a perfect loaf. Fortunately, the trusty bread machine is ready to help.
Bread makers simplify the baking process and allow cooks to accomplish other tasks while their loaves bake. The steps to baking a loaf using a machine are simple:
The most crucial step to making bread in a machine is to read the device-specific instructions. Bread machines vary in operation, and each manufacturer recommends different steps to bake a successful loaf.
Be sure that you note the size of your device. Typical capacities are one pound and two pounds, though some machines are larger. Choose recipes based on the size of your bread maker.
Always measure ingredients carefully. Measuring by weight works better than measuring by volume. Investing in a small kitchen scale can increase your chances of success.
Some manufacturers specify putting in the wet ingredients like milk, eggs, and water first, while others note that bakers should put dry ingredients like flour in beforehand. Do whatever your instruction manual recommends for the best results.
To experience hands-off baking, you can set the machine to complete the loaf by itself, including proofing and finishing. Bread machines typically take about two to four hours from start to finish.
Anyone who has baked a loaf of bread knows that bread dough is a sticky substance. Washing baked-on bread dough off non-stick bread pans and utensils is challenging. In addition, loaves of bread that stick inside the machine disappoint bakers who are looking forward to an attractive result.
Most Bread Machines Use Nonstick Teflon Pans
Manufacturers introduced Teflon pans inside bread makers to omit the problem of sticking bread for their customers and thus boosting their sales. However, this coating, once known as a miracle for home cooks, has come under health and environmental scrutiny.
Developed during World War II as an industrial coating, Teflon came into use in cookware in 1960. It is Du Pont's brand name for the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is useful because it is non-stick, corrosion-resistant, food-safe, and non-conductive.
In addition to brand-name Teflon, there are other fluoropolymer compounds used in cookware today. These coatings may be marketed as "non-stick ceramic coatings." Additionally, such coatings are marketed as better alternatives to Teflon, but some health advocates are skeptical about their safety and benefits as well.
Teflon is generally regarded as safe for industrial and consumer use. The federal Food and Drug Administration approves using Teflon in cookware, but many scientists and health advocates remain concerned about its use at high temperatures.
At temperatures over 536˚F (280˚C), Teflon releases toxic polymer fumes. These fumes can cause polymer fume fever, a condition characterized by flu-like symptoms, cough, and tightness in the chest.
The toxic fumes released when heating Teflon to high temperatures are particularly dangerous for pet birds kept in the home, causing severe illness and death. For this reason, people with pet birds should consider avoiding the use of all Teflon products.
At these high temperatures, Teflon may also release a chemical known as PFOA, a "forever" chemical that could cause testicular, kidney, and thyroid cancer after long-term exposure. While the use of PFOA in the manufacture of Teflon was halted by the FDA in 2013, many households still have older cookware.
Understanding the possible health effects of Teflon and related coatings may cause bakers some alarm. Home cooks who are concerned by the dangers posed by polymer coatings should consider removing these products from their homes.
Are there Teflon-free bread machines? Unfortunately, Teflon-free vertical and horizontal bread machines are rare, and the search for Teflon-free bread machines often comes up empty.
Even devices marketed as containing no Teflon may contain other non-branded non-stick coatings. Finding a bread maker machine without non-stick coatings requires extensive research. Worried bakers should read all product descriptions, manuals, and reviews with care.
Only one bread maker on the market today is known to have stainless steel, fully uncoated bread pans.
The Saki Breadmaker comes equipped with a ceramic pan for your bread. A ceramic pan can be a great alternative to Teflon coated pans and can handle a loaf size of up to 3 lbs.
The saki breadmaker comes with multiple preprogrammed baking options and a recipe book that covers just about any type of bread you can imagine, including:
The Saki Bread Maker in Action
You aren't limited to baked bread with this bread machine. There are also settings to make jam and even yogurt with this bread machine.
You'll also get multiple crust color options with this bread making machine: light, medium and dark.
The Sana Smart Bread Maker features an uncoated stainless steel pan. In the Sana line, the exclusive and standard models feature a stainless steel pan, but the basic model does not.
The machine is highly programmable, featuring different cycles for kneading, heating, making jam, and fermenting.
Making Bread with the Sana Bread Maker
Unfortunately, it is hard for American shoppers to find the Sana Smart Bread Maker with U.S. power compatibility. If needed, it is possible to purchase a European power adapter to use with the machine.
This KBS bread machine features a ceramic nonstick pan - no need for Teflon to prevent the bread from sticking.
Since bread makers without non-stick coatings are so rare, the best bread machines for health-conscious bakers are the models that do not heat to dangerous temperatures. As long as the temperature of the coating stays below 536˚F, polymer fumes will not be released. Bird owners may want to avoid purchasing these machines or other nonstick products out of an abundance of caution.
This Zojirushi model has a two-pound capacity. It has special settings for whole wheat bread, as well as presets for pizza dough, cake, meatloaf, and jam. It stays under 300˚F during operation, meaning that toxic fumes are not released.
This Breville model is a stainless steel bread maker. Like the Zojirushi, it also bakes below 300˚F and has settings for dozens of different baked goods including cakes. It features a special non-Teflon coating to keep the bread from sticking to the pan.
Gluten free bread dough has a different texture and consistency than standard dough, so gluten-free settings are helpful. In addition, gluten-free bread does not need to rise twice as standard bread does.
If your bread machine does not have a gluten-free option, here are some tips to help your loaf succeed:
After examining the risks that could result from the use of Teflon in a bread machine, bakers may be interested in learning more about the pros and cons.
Making homemade bread can be a fun project for the entire family. Busy bakers looking for quicker and more consistent results may be interested in getting a bread machine.
Baking bread by hand is both an art and a science. It is possible to make various bread types by hand, especially crusty rustic and French-style loaves that require a ceramic bread pan. That said, home bakers should know that the texture of loaves made by machines is closest to a sandwich loaf since these devices do not get as hot as standard ovens.
Machines produce tasty loaves with less hands-on time. In a bustling family kitchen, there may not be time for the multiple steps involved in home baking. In this case, a machine comes in handy as it can mix, knead, proof, and bake bread at the touch of a button.
When bakers are looking for enjoyment in the process, they may be happier baking bread by hand. They may prefer using a bread machine if they are looking for convenience and consistency.