Whether you have a cooktop or a range in your home, deciding on the right cookware is essential. No doubt you've heard that pro chefs only cook with cast iron cookware, but is it really what you need?
Cast iron is an alloy metal made with more than two percent carbon and comes either as bare cast iron or enameled. But regardless of which type of cast iron you choose, these seven advantages of cast iron cookware are hard to deny!
For affordable cookware, cast iron stands out among the rest. That's because cast iron pots, pans, and even Dutch ovens are cheaper and easier to make from the raw materials available.So if you're searching for cookware on a budget, cast iron gives you plenty of options to choose from!
And better yet, because cast iron is so long-lasting, you don't have to worry about replacing it every few years.
2. Heat Retention
Pro chefs love cast iron cookware for a couple of reasons, but the main reason is heat retention. The thicker material of cast iron stores more heat per unit volume, making it incredibly useful! You can even keep your meals warm before you serve by leaving them in your cast iron cookware or using it to finish off the cooking process.
With expert heat retention, you can deep fry or even make a pizza using a single cast iron skillet (although not at the same time!).
Pro Tip: If your cast iron skillet or pan is still hot, DO NOT run it under cool water, or it will cause cracking or warping!
Have you ever seen your grandma using a cast iron skillet that she got from her mom? That's because cast iron is incredibly durable. They last forever! So, if you've recently inherited that cast iron skillet, don't knock it — it'll work just like new!
In fact, it'll work even better. Cast iron gets better with age, so the more you use it, the better!
4. Naturally Non-Stick
Did you know that cast iron is naturally non-stick? When properly seasoned, cast iron provides a non-stick surface that is better than other non-stick cookware. The natural oil seasoning doesn't use harsh chemicals like traditional non-stick cookware so you can cook worry-free!
Not to mention it'll be much easier to clean!
5. Versatile Cooking
There's very little you can't do with a cast iron pan. You might use two to three different pans to make a single meal, one for searing and another for baking. But that changes with cast iron. The durable design and heat retention let you easily transfer dishes from the stovetop to the oven without anything melting or warping.
You can saute mushrooms, sear steaks, roast chickens, braise briskets, deep fry potatoes, or bake cakes with cast iron cookware!
Pro Tip: Avoid cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, lemons, or other citrus foods, as the iron will leach and create a metallic flavor.
6. Good for Camping
If you love to go hiking or camping out under the stars, there's no need to limit yourself to cold or packaged foods. With cast iron cookware, you can bring savory cooking with you! The robust design lets you easily hang it over a campfire or directly on the coals! No matter how you want to cook, cast iron stays durable throughout!
7. Add Some Iron
If you're anemic or recently learned that your iron levels are low, cast iron cookware can help you. Some doctors will even recommend cooking with a cast iron skillet to get more iron in your diet since it leaches into your food as you cook. In fact, cooking food with cast iron pots and pans provides about 18mg of iron per meal!
While the benefits of cast iron are numerous, you'll also need to keep in mind the potential drawbacks:
- Rust (if not correctly seasoned)
- Too heavy to easily lift and move around the cooktop
- Gets hot enough to cause burns
- Is reactive
- Takes a long time to heat up
- Can't cook acidic foods or wine-braised meats
But if you want to try cooking with cast iron, try enameled cast iron for all the benefits minus some of the drawbacks. Enameled cast iron is non-reactive, prevents iron leaching, doesn't rust, and won't require seasoning.
Taking Care of Your Cast Iron
With proper care and maintenance, you’ll be enjoying your cast iron cookware for many years. Always wash it with mild soap and a stiff nylon brush to preserve the seasoning. Or use salt and a scraper to remove leftover food gently.
Not sure if your cookware is seasoned? Don't worry; You can do it yourself!
- Clean your cast iron with mild soap and water.
- Let it cool and dry thoroughly.
- Spread cooking oil all over the pot or pan, front to back (use canola oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oils, or lard).
- Wipe away as much oil as you can.
- Place pan on the stove to burn off excess oil (get it to smoking point).
If you want to use your oven, follow steps one through four and then:
- Preheat your oven between 450° and 500° Fahrenheit.
- Place the pan upside down in your oven with a large sheet of aluminum foil underneath the pan to catch the oil spills.
- Cook for 30 minutes (a little smoke is normal).
- Turn off the oven and let the pan cool to room temperature inside the oven with the door closed (this will take a couple of hours).
- Repeat all the steps up to five times for a well-seasoned pan.
Cast iron skillets are a classic for a reason, and we don't see them going away soon. But regardless of which cookware you prefer to cook on, you need the right cooking appliances to help make every meal a success. So, if you're tired of the burners not lighting on your stovetop or having cold spots in your oven, it's time to give your cooking station a whole new makeover atLeonardi Appliance!
And if you have any questions, please give us a call or stop by! We'll help you find what you need to always whip up good eats!