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Is Orgreenic Cookware a scam?

Orgreenic fry pan

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If you are like us, you have been bombarded with ads for Orgreenic Cookware: we sometimes receive 4 or more E-mails a day from them. In addition, their ads are embedded in lots of web sites we visit. Other people report seeing their infomercials any number of times.

Our well-used All Clad versus the new Orgreenic
Our well-used All Clad versus the new Orgreenic
jwc
Egg cooking in an Orgreenic pan
jwc

We set out to compare the Orgreenic pan with the 10” All-Clad pan we bought at Williams-Sonoma in Westport.

If you try and get any information on these products, you discover that they have bombed with web with fake or almost fake review sites, all of which have very positive things to say about their cookware. There are some critical comments at Complaintsboard and at Chowhound.

These products are made to be non-stick without a Teflon coating, which many people prefer to steer away from. So their ads emphasize that you can cook “without oil, butter or grease.”

Based on the negative comments on the latter two web sites, we decided not to order directly from the company (Ozeri.com makes these pans). Too many people had trouble with credit card overcharges, and having an entire set shipped to them instead of the single trial pan. Further while the offer of the day is two pans for $19.99, you have to pay shipping on the second one, as well as on any “free offer” they also include.

If you go to their web site, you will find that they want your credit card number before they tell you what they are charging you for: never a good sign.

Instead, we opted to order the pan from Amazon. It is actually shipped from a company called As Seen on TV Guys (also called Telebrands Inc.). We paid $26.99, with no tax or shipping charges, and there were no hidden free offers. The pan arrived in two days.

Despite the picture on the Amazon web site, the pan came without any box or recipes, wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed into a Tyvek Priority Mail envelope. Despite the indestructibility claims of the infomercial, there was a small dent and chip in the pan when it arrived. And the accompanying materials indicated that they would replace it but would charge a $7.95 shipping charge, which seemed rather unreasonable. Why should we pay for their mistake?

A small circular insert paper in the pan said that the pan should be seasoned before use. We’ve never had to season a pan before: a simple but annoying procedure. You are to pour a film of oil in the bottom of the pan, coat the sides and heat the oil until it begins to smoke. Then pour it out and let the pan cool. Wipe out the excess oil. You are supposed to repeat this twice yearly.

Pouring a film of oil into this pan is actually quite difficult, because the ceramic surface is non-porous, and the oil tends to bead up instead of covering the pan smoothly. To make sure, we washed the pan with soap and water before trying again.

We then poured in enough oil to cover the bottom and heated it until it began to smoke. This can make quite a smell in the house, and you should open the windows or make sure your exhaust fan is running.

Now, when you season a cast-iron pan, you are really making a thin polymeric layer on top of the porous iron. In the case of these ceramic-coated pans it is not clear why we are doing this.

Further, you are supposed to hand wash the pan rather than put it in the dishwasher, which might spoil the seasoning. This was an annoying discovery, to say the least and certainly would keep us from buying more of them.

We weighed the pan, which is probably supposed to have a 9” diameter (but is unlabeled). It weighed in at 23 oz. By contrast our only slightly larger All Clad 10” pan weighed 37 oz. So the Orgreenic pan is a substantial light weight by comparison. It lacks heft.

Now for the cooking

We first tried to duplicate the fried egg they show in the infomercial. We warmed the cool pan over medium-low heat, and added one egg. Once it began to solidify, we tried to see if it would “slide around.” While it didn’t, it was easily lifted and moved with a spatula: the egg did not stick at all.

However, as in the video, the top of the “fried” egg is essentially uncooked. We tried covering the egg with a lid, but without any steam or grease it didn’t really cook. We ended up flipping the egg and flipping it back again after half a minute. At this point some of the white stuck to the pan in a streak, but you could wipe it off when the pan cooled.

Now, an egg cooked without fat is essentially a baked egg, and it really doesn’t have a lot of flavor. In fact, the egg was rather tough, and when we flipped it over, we saw why: it had formed a fairly hard coating underneath. It wasn’t overcooked, just hard and not all the tasty. All of this is shown in the slide show.

We also tried cooking a couple of strips of bacon, as one of the Chowhound comments remarked that the bacon stained the pan. We had no trouble: it cooked fine, and all the bacon debris was easily removed with a little soap and water.

The whole idea of cooking without any oil or grease is bizarre on the face of it. Flavors are carried in the fat. So, no matter how you use this pan, it is just a non-stick pan you can use whenever you need something that will fry or sauté something and clean up fairly easily.

The pans are fairly cheaply made compared to our All-Clad pan (which is about $77) and it looks like it isn’t very hard to nick the coating, so it isn’t clear what the advantage actually is.

Cooking in the All Clad pan

For comparison, we added a little cooking spray to the All-Clad pan, and cooked an egg slowly in much the same way. Once the egg solidified, it slid around in the pan just as the one in the infomercial. Further, it was very easy to flip to cook the top side, and the bottom did not become tough and chewy. This is also shown in the slide show: the egg is in every way superior.

The Orgreenic telephone/web sales is very close to a scam according lots of commenters, but the pan from Amazon did arrive and was indeed non-stick. We really aren’t interested in pans we have to season every few months, though, nor ones you shouldn’t put in the dishwasher. And we so far have no idea how long it will last. The All-Clad remains our favorite.

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