There are a lot of reasons why to cook with cast iron. Learn the ins and outs of cooking with this old-fashioned, durable cookware.
The cast-iron skillet has made quite a comeback and for good reason. Beloved by many home cooks for their ability impart flavour, these versatile pieces of cookware are worth the investment. If you treat these durable skillets and pans right, they will last forever. They are handy for pretty much any meal. For me, nothing beats a traditional English breakfast cooked in cast iron. If you have a Dutch oven your meal options really open up. You can even bake bread in cast iron.
Here are some great reasons why you should cook with of cast iron
There are a whole host of reasons why cooks love cast iron skillets and pans. Read more to find out why old-fashioned cast iron cookware is making a comeback. However, if you’re in a hurry let’s quickly answer the question:
Why cook with cast iron?
- Cast iron cookware can last indefinitely if well cared for
- You can use cast iron cookware on many heat sources
- Food is less prone to sticking
- Cast iron is easy to clean
- The cooking surface is considered food safe
- It’s great at searing meat
- Perfect for slow cooking
- Cast iron has an amazing thermal density
- Cooking with cast iron can boost your iron take. While enameled cast iron cookware stops food coming in contact with any metal
Gets Better With Age
How many pans have you purchased that has gotten better with age? Probably none — unless they are cast iron. These pans get better after years of heavy use. When you use cast iron, seasoning on your cookware builds up. Seasoning makes your cookware more non-stick. So use your cookware when you cook in cast iron you’re building that seasoning.
So how long can cast iron last? A really long time. Families often hand cast iron pans down through the generations. Your grandmother may still be using her cast iron pan that her mother used. You can count on a cast iron pan to last a hundred years with the proper care. These antique pans are very collectable. If you’re interested in vintage cast iron please check out our other articles.
Cast iron cookware works on most heat sources
Cast iron cookware is extremely versatile. You can use it on the stovetop or in the oven.It works great on the grill, you can even bring it with you on camping trips.
I live in Japan and use my cast iron on induction, and when I return home to New Zealand where we use gas and electric stoves my cast iron is going to work just as well. Another reason to cook with cast iron that stays hot for a long period of time.
You can also serve food right in the skillet, which means fewer dishes to wash.
Why cook in cast iron? It’s Non-Stick well not quite but it sure bets stainless steel
Regular cast iron cookware is naturally non-stick. However, I have to be honest it’s never going to be as non-stick as Teflon or any other chemically bonded surface. Like anyone had a few disasters but my cast iron is a lot more non-stick than my stainless steel cookware.
When you cook in a cast iron pan, it creates a natural protective layer, which is called seasoning. This layer is formed when fats naturally oxidize in the pan. This coating helps the food slide off the pan easily. So you won’t have to worry about it sticking as much as other alternatives.
Easy To Clean
Cast iron is easy to clean — You’ll find both regular cast iron and enameled cast iron easier to clean than stainless steel. Sure non-stick cookware is the easiest to clean however as mentioned earlier it does have its drawbacks. Which is why many people opt for cast iron.
Yes, you cannot put your seasoned pots and pans in the dishwasher and I would extend that to enameled cast iron as well. I use the soft side of a sponge or some kind of brush. The Japanese often use the Tawashi to clean cast iron.
Another popular way of cleaning cast iron is with a chainmail scrubber. Whatever you use to clean your cast iron it’s easy. How easy? Many swear by not using soap to maintain the seasoning surface. No soap? Try doing that with stainless you’ll most likely have to let you pans soak overnight.
Safer Than Other Cookware?
Cast iron cookware is it safer than other cookware? Today, cookware is thoroughly tested before it’s allowed on the market. However, unlike other cookware humans have used cast iron cookware for thousands of years. Of course, there’s always enameled cast iron if you’re worried about cooking on a metal surface. In fact, enameled cast iron has many benefits. However, there’s a lot of debate about copper, aluminum and non-stick cookware so cast iron cookware is a great choice.
If you want to know if cast iron cookware is safe here are some researched articles.
- Is cast iron cookware safe?
- Is enameled cast iron safe? (coming soon)
Great for Searing
Searing meat is essential if you want the most flavorful steaks, roasts, and chops and in my opinion other beats a good cast iron pan for the job. Sure they use stainless steel in a restaurant because it reacts to heat better than cast iron. However, restaurants also employ full-time dishwashers. hint hint. Thanks but I’ll stick to cast iron. Sautéing vegetables is a breeze too and yes I sauté tomatoes in my pans. Using cast iron to sauté your vegetables will leave a nice roasted layer on the outside.
Interested in slow cooking then you need a Dutch oven
Although modern methods of cookery have changed over the years slow cooking is making a come back. Why are going back to slow cooking? Traditional dishes are more wholesome than modern diets.
These meals were traditionally cooked in Dutch ovens or cauldrons. A cast iron Dutch oven can be placed on top of the stove or placed in the oven. A heavy lid prevents moisture from escaping slow cooked meat is extremely tender and vegetables hold onto their naturals flavors.
Because of the method of cooking, I’d buy an enamel Dutch oven. I’m a huge fan of Le Creuset and Staub however they do cost a pretty penny. Cast iron vs enameled cast iron which is right for you? Check the linked article if you want to learn more.
Cooks Food More Evenly
If you preheat cast iron before cooking, you’ll find that it cooks the food a lot more evenly than other pans. Cast iron has a very poor thermal conductivity which means it’s slower to temperature change. However once heated cast iron cookware has fewer hotspots than a lot of other modern cookware which is often thin and poorly constructed. This is just one of the benefits of cast iron cookware.
Gives You An Iron Boost
Iron is an essential nutrient that the body needs to transport oxygen throughout the body. Cooking in a cast-iron skillet or pan releases iron into your food. So, this is a great way to boost your iron intake. If you want to learn how much iron is released into your food when cooking in cast iron then check out the linked article.
The Best Cast Iron Pans
If you are purchasing a cast iron skillet, then you probably plan to hang onto it for a long time. Therefore, you should choose a skillet that you will want to use for many years. Here are our cast iron top picks.
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge has been making cast iron cookware since 1896. The company produces some of the best skillets on the market. This 12-inch frying pan is no exception. It is pre-seasoned with soy-based vegetable oil and ready to use. You can choose either a red silicone or genuine leather hot handle holder to protect your hands from heat. This frying pan offers excellent heat retention for nice, even browning and searing. For the price, you cannot beat Lodge’s 12-inch skillet. How much does it cost? Here’s a link to Amazon to see the latest prices.
Victoria 12 inch cast iron skillet
Next on our list is the Victoria cast iron skillet. Victoria also has a long history of making good quality cast iron cookware at a very reasonable price. It also has a nice 12-inch frying surface which is ideal for couples or families. There are two pour spouts which are more rounded than other brands on the market. This allows you to easily pour cooking oil out of the skillet with less dripping. The pan is seasoned with flaxseed oil. Click the link to check out the prices and sizes available on Amazon.
Lodge Cast Iron Griddle
This 10.5-inch cast iron griddle from Lodge is perfect for cooking pancakes or quesadillas. It is pre-seasoned with 100 per cent vegetable oil. The wide frying surface is great for large breakfasts. You can use this griddle in the kitchen or take it on your next camping trip. It is ideal for either use better still because of the shallow surface you’ll probably be inclined to use less oil. Here’s the link to Amazon if you’re interested.
U.S National Library of Medicine (Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food)
Training Initiatives in Biomedical & Biological Sciences (Ask a Toxicologist: Is it safe to use Teflon pans?)