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So, I use Teflon saucepans for cooking vegetables, only.

Tomatoes have to be added after the onions are done. Tomatoes have inherent water in them and are obviously below the pan's temperature.

I am afraid that in the long run it may ultimately damage the Teflon cookware.

What's the way out?

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The only way out is to not use Teflon. Most people I talk to about cookware only ever use non-stick pans for eggs. –  Aaronut Dec 3 '11 at 17:34

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Tomatoes specifically will not damage your teflon pan any more than any other cold, wet vegetable. Teflon was used to store a form of uranium in the Manhattan Project because it's so nonreactive. Without it, uranium hexafluoride would eat through storage containers.

It sounds like you were also talking about thermal shock--which you can observe with a hot glass dropped in cold water. That happens on a very, very small scale with pans and food-to-be-heated. I think other factors--like scratching from spatulas and accidental overheating--would wear out the pan far, far sooner.

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Thanks for the link. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 13 '11 at 3:20

Teflon will slowly damage over time no matter how you treat it. Certain things will speed up this damage: too high heat, some metal tools, sandpaper. Unlike an aluminum pan, Teflon will not react to high acid foods like tomatoes by getting damaged. It is a non-reactive material. You will see black flakes start to appear in your food when the original chemical bonding begins to fail on your pan, which should signal that you need to grab another one.

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If I take full precautions, what can be the average life of the teflon vessel expected? –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 4 '11 at 1:43
    
Depending on the pan, between 3 and 15 years. It mainly depends on the quality of the original bonding. The average is about ten years. –  sarge_smith Dec 4 '11 at 8:49
    
Also depends on how frequently you use it, and how you clean it. –  FuzzyChef Dec 4 '11 at 20:17
    
You said Teflon will not react to high acid foods like tomatoes by getting damaged. It is a non-reactive material. but @FuzzyChef says Cooking tomatoes and other high-acid vegetables on teflon will speed up the deterioration of the teflon surface. Can any one of you provide references for your statements? –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 5 '11 at 0:41
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Anisha, Sarge Smith is correct and I am wrong. Editing my response below based on some research. –  FuzzyChef Dec 5 '11 at 1:09

Water content of the vegetables has little or nothing to do with Teflon deterioration. The reason you add wet vegetables after "dry" ones is that the water content of the wet vegatables will prevent the dry ones from searing and carmelizing.

However, more to the point of the question, the way you should fry or saute vegetables in a non-stick pan is:

  1. Pour oil into the pan
  2. Heat the pan and oil to between 300F and 350F
  3. Drop in vegetables

That being said, I personally use stainless or cast iron if I'm just frying vegetables.

EDIT: I previously posted some incorrect information about acidity and Teflon. I have removed this information based on research. As it turns out, Teflon is highly resistant to acids and would not be damaged by acidic foods in any way -- it can resist hydrochloric acid. Reference: http://www.calpaclab.com/pages/chart.html

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BTW, it is also said that you shouldn't put cold water in hot Teflon pans, so tomatoes contain cold water, still they won't harm the vessel? –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 5 '11 at 3:51
    
BTW, FuzzyChef If you don't write my name as @Anisha (when talking to me under someone else's post) I won't get the notification. My seeing the above comment of yours was a fluke. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 5 '11 at 4:42

The primary concern in the precaution against cold water on hot pans, Teflon or otherwise, is typically directed at running cold water from the tap over it (ie when rinsing to cool it down quickly before washing it). Tomatoes and other water bearing ingredients poise a negligible risk to warping relatively.

I regularly add stock and other cold/room temp ingredients and have not experienced warping in 8 years with an inexpensive pan set. how else could you fry an egg or deglaze a pan?

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Thanks, I am relieved. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 13 '11 at 3:20

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