Aluminum cookwares are popular because it conducts heat fast and even, lower cost and easier to produce, not prone to rusting and light weight.
Many never want to use it because: It reacts to acid and other foods such as tomato sauce, vegetables, fruits, vinegar, salt and egg. It is soft, easily got dents, scratches and softens at high temperatures. May cause off taste to prepared dish. And, might cause health problems.
Anodized aluminums are resistant to acid and might be a better option. However, scratches also makes it vulnerable.
Aluminum was believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. It was reported that many people died of the disease had high levels of aluminum in brains. In contradiction, the high levels might be due to the disease itself, encouraging the deposition of excess amounts.
According to WHO, safe aluminum ingestion is 50mg per day. Aluminum is a popular ingredient of over-the-counter tablets ranging from 10 to 20 mg. Earth has aluminum, water has, plants and animals we it have it too. Scary! Taking three tablets a day can mean ingestions of 60mg.
Cooking all foods in uncoated and non-anodized aluminum pots may expose one to more levels. Storing foods in it for prolonged periods will cause more migration, causing more dangers and damage to pan.
Aluminum not only gets into food chemically. Friction created by two colliding metals causes wear and tear e.g. cooking ube halaya in tulyasi and mixing it with aluminum ladle. The ladle gets smaller and the tulyasi gets thinner after long repeated use.
In a wider perspective, all metals are going to react to acidic foods. Different elements and alloys will react differently – stainless steel pot being the less reactive. Even the Teflon coated cookwares are not exempted. It should be used within its specified temperature limit and should not have scratches, otherwise, food will be exposed to melted Teflon and or metal.
On the contrary, it might be beneficial in small quantities. Magnesium and iron are essential elements.
Are we still using aluminum cookwares? Yes, we are but not for cooking acidic foods such as paksiw and sinaing na tulingan. New aluminum pot is shiny silver and gets off-white to slightly brown after several use. It gets to original color finish when cooked with acid foods. It bothers me. Its like cooking and dish washing in one.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.