Safety of Vintage Guardian Service Cookware

By J.E. Cornett

Durable, attractive Guardian Service cookware has become prized by collectors for more than just its vintage allure. If you've acquired a piece or a whole set of vintage Guardian Service cookware, you're in luck--part of the reason it's so collectible stems from the fact that it is cooks so well and is perfectly safe to use.

History

Guardian Service Cookware was manufactured by the Century Metalcraft Corporation of Los Angeles, California. The Pampered Chef of its day, Guardian Service was sold by independent salespeople from the 1930s until 1956, when the plant that manufactured the cookware burned down. Marketed as both cooking and serving pieces, Guardian Service Cookware was considered a high-end cookware for the day, and was sold using demonstrations of cooking methods for the cookware and cookbooks with suggested recipes.

The Guardian Service Cookware Corner website estimates that an entire set of Guardian Service would cost around $2,500 today.

Features

The selling point for Guardian Service Cookware was the "waterless" method by which it cooked food, using unique domed lids to condense moisture, which would then seep back into the food.

The heavy aluminum construction of Guardian Service items meant that food heated uniformly and, therefore, cooked more quickly and thoroughly.

Health Concerns

Concerns about the safety of Guardian Service Cookware stem from the perceived link between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease. However, no evidence exists that cooking with aluminum contributes to Alzheimer's disease.

Food Safety

Although many cookware items manufactured today are made from aluminum, most are coated with a nonstick surface that separates the aluminum from the food being cooked within the cookware, which prevents the aluminum from reacting to acidic foods.

Guardian Service cookware is not coated; therefore, it is advised not to cook or store highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits or pickled foods, in Guardian Service or any uncoated aluminum cookware for long periods of time. These acidic foods will pick up a metallic taste from the cookware and become discolored. These foods can also harm the surface of the cookware, resulting in discoloration or pitting.

Cleaning Considerations

Misconceptions about the safety of Guardian Service cookware also stem from misunderstandings about how this cookware should be cleaned. Sulfur-rich foods, such as eggs, can discolor the cookware, as can prolonged exposure to water. This discoloration or darkening of the cookware is harmless.

Guardian Service cookware can be safely cleaned using 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar to 1 quart of water; this will clean and remove discoloration.

Uncoated aluminum cookware such as Guardian Service should never be cleaned in dishwashers; the salts and acids in dishwasher detergents can severely discolor and pit the surface of the cookware.