Xtrema cookware: a rare option for 100% ceramic cookware
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2.5-Quart Traditions Saucepan
While Xtrema products are one of the healthiest cookware ranges on the market, they’re expensive, fragile, and require you to follow many rules to keep them functional. The Xtrema saucepan range is their least troublesome pan and their most affordable product.
Xtrema saucepans don’t require high temperatures to do their job and will provide you with healthy, toxin-free food for you and your family. These attractive pots will cost you a pretty penny and probably won’t last a lifetime. Still, if you fancy trying out 100% ceramic cookware, you can sample them without spending hundreds of dollars only to find out they’re just too much hassle.
Many companies and brands claim their cookware is free from nasty chemicals and materials that are dangerous to our health. While the newer products improve on the safety of traditional pots and pans with non-stick coating, they aren’t 100% safe.
In 2004 using his 40 years of experience in the ceramics and glass industry, Extrema founder Rich Bergstrom started on his journey to create a range of cookware that is truly toxin-free.
After three years of exploring the US and international markets to find what they considered the best partners to work with to produce 100% ceramic products, they finally settled on factories in China. Xtrema was then registered as a company.
The months and years of negotiation, designing, and testing passed, and the fledgling company rolled out their maiden product, ‘Xtrema Pure Ceramic Cookware’ to the public.
Fast forward to the present day, and Xtrema is still an incredibly popular brand, but do their products live up to the hype, and are they worth their substantial price tags?
As previously mentioned, all Xtrema’s ceramic cookware is produced in China. The company claims that China is the leading producer of ceramic products and manufactures 70% of the world’s ceramic cookware.
While this certainly shows that China has tremendous experience with this material, the considerable volume doesn’t necessarily mean they make the best quality cookware. Indeed, there is some discussion about whether China’s manufacturing regulations are strict enough to rule out heavy metals such as lead being found in ceramic cookware.
The Xtrema website clearly states their cookware is non-toxic, non-reactive, contains no PFOA or PTFE and that the products meet the California Prop 65 Standards and pass the FDA-Regulated 24-hour heavy metal extraction tests every month to ensure their product is as safe as possible.
So, while China’s experience with ceramic is no metric at all against which to measure the durability and safety of this cookware, at least you have peace of mind that Xtrema regularly tests their pans, so you know they’re safe.
However, Xtrema has historically claimed their products are metal-free. Yet, we’ve read several articles that state otherwise (though Xtrema appears to have since changed the text on their website to reflect the disputed claims). So, even though they meet various standards and pass tests to prove they don’t leach toxins into the food, these ‘100% ceramic’ products contain trace metals.
According to Xtrema, using 100% ceramic will ensure the pots and pans heat consistently and evenly, and while this might be true of other ceramic products, we’ve found that not to be the case with Xtrema pans. You can work around this by positioning your food toward the pans’ outer edges, which Xtrema recommends. This is concerning.
Xtrema cookware can be used on all types of cookers and stoves, except for induction cookers. This type of appliance needs to be used in conjunction with an alloy capable of conducting electromagnetic energy. Though even with this versatility, Xtrema cookware still takes a substantial amount of time to get up to temperature.
This situation is compounded as you’re unable to heat these pans on high heat (as recommended by Xtrema) as extreme temperatures pose a significant risk to the cookware’s integrity, You can cook on low-to-medium heats only.
If that wasn’t enough to make you turn and run for the hills, anecdotal evidence suggests these pans are relatively fragile too. Numerous consumers have reported products arriving already smashed to pieces or forming hairline fractures after one or two uses. We’ve even watched a YouTube video that depicts an Xtrema pan shattering beyond repair after being dropped from a height of only a few inches (though we must be clear, we have no idea if the cookware had any previous defects). Make no mistake; you will have to be incredibly careful with this cookware.
At this point, you must be wondering if Xtrema cookware has any redeeming features? Well, actually, yes, it does.
Even though these products contain trace metals that you may have previously been led to believe did not exist, full ceramic cookware is still at the top of the list of the safest pots and pans you can use.
While they’re not overly durable or shock-resistant, Xtrema cookware is scratch-resistant, so you’re able to use metal utensils while cooking and cleaning without fear of damaging the surface.
It’s also oven-safe and microwave-safe, so you’re not only limited to cooking on stovetops with skillets, saucepans, and Dutch ovens.
Finally, while you may get some food sticking to the surface of your pans, the scratch-resistant qualities of ceramic cookware make Xtrema pots and pans super easy to clean, and stubborn dirt and grime can easily be removed in the dishwasher.
One of Xtrema’s most popular products is, unsurprisingly, their skillet. No kitchen would be complete without cookware with which to fry, sear, and saute.
If you require a lid for your skillet, Xtrema gives you the option, though it will set you back around $20 (depending on sales and discounts at the time of purchase), and the larger two skillets come with a silicone handle cover.
Cooking with these skillets isn’t a bad experience, but you’re all the time concerned about over-heating the pan or causing damage through being overly heavy-handed (which isn’t covered by the warranty).
Because you can’t cook on high heats, you’re not going to get a decent steak with Xtrema skillets, but they handle most other ingredients pretty well. Having said that, you’ll need to use more oil/fats than with traditional non-stick pans or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, or your food will stick to the surface.
Once you get the hang of cooking with Xtrema’s skillets, the food they make is absolutely delicious with no compromised tastes or odors.
Fortunately, the scratch-free surface means any food that does get stuck to the pan can be removed with a little elbow grease and effort without damaging the pan.
Xtrema’s saucepan range is not only their most popular product; it’s also the most highly rated range and most affordable too.
Available in 1-quart, 1.5-quart, 2.5-quart, and 3-quart capacities, all these pans are supplied with lids so the saucepans can function as they should.
These saucepans aren’t hamstrung by the limitations of ceramic cookware and their inability to withstand extreme temperatures, as their primary functions are boiling, stewing, and simmering sauces and soups and don’t require massive temperatures.
You won’t find many problems with food sticking to the pans either, as most of the contents will be liquid-based and are unlikely to burn as long as you’re careful. As the ceramic is non-reactive, you’ll have no issues cooking tomato-heavy soups and sauces. This makes consumers very happy that they can cook safely in the knowledge that unhealthy contaminants won’t compromise their food.
The only drawback to the saucepans (other than their fragility) is the lack of a pour spout. Pouring any low viscosity liquid out of the pan without spilling it all over the counter is almost impossible.
Fortunately, you won’t have as big an issue cleaning the inside of the pan as you will cleaning your work surfaces; as previously mentioned, these saucepans are super easy to clean.
Xtrema Cookware Sets
Xtrema has two options of cookware sets to choose from, giving you a healthy discount than buying the pieces of cookware individually, and both sets have a different kind of versatility.
12-Piece Cookware Set: 10-inch versa skillet with lid, 3.5-inch versa pot with lid, 2.5-inch versa pot with lid, 1.5-inch versa pot with lid, 4-piece pot holder set (silicone handles).
Xtrema put this cookware set together with versatility in mind (hence the name “versa pot”); all the pieces have been designed for multiple uses. While all the pans and pots suffer from the same failings we’ve already discussed (fragility and prone to food sticking to them), this set does a decent job at being a jack of all trades.
It works well for people entertaining and cooking large batches of foods for parties and buffets.
9-Piece Cookware Set: 10-inch skillet with lid, 2.5-quart saucepan with lid, 1.5-inch saucepan with lid, 1-quart saucepan with lid, skillet silicone handle holder.
The 9-piece cookware set is aimed more at cooking traditional meals, with the skillet available to cook all your meats and a variety of saucepans for vegetables, sauces, and stews.
This set is the more balanced of the two and suited to a single person or a couple to cook healthy, nutritious meals.
Can you put a price on your health?
In a perfect world, we’d all be in a position to take care of our bodies without worrying about the cost. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, and healthier options are almost always more expensive.
Despite the previously misleading claim that there are no trace metals found in Xtrema products, their range of cookware is one of the most healthy options for cooking. Their products meet all standards and pass all heavy metal tests to give you the peace of mind you need when you’re feeding your family.
Unfortunately, that peace of mind comes with a rather large price tag. Not only that, there’s a huge learning curve when cooking with Xtrema cookware, and it’ll take you some time to master it.
Then there’s the fragility. If you drop any other piece of cookware on your kitchen floor, you can pick it up, clean it off and forget that embarrassing moment ever happened. Do the same thing with an Xtrema pan, and you’ll have to sweep up the remains and jump back online to order another one.
It should be a no-brainer that your health should come with no expense spared, but the truth is, we don’t all have the disposable income to spend on mid-size a pot or pan that could well need replacing in a few weeks or months.
If you can afford this cookware and commit to being super careful while following Xtrema’s extensive guidelines to ensure the product’s longevity, then these pans might be worth their large price tag, though we suspect there are better options on the market that will better suit your needs.