Сast iron сookware is now very popular in the kitchen. You can use cast iron for everything — frying, stewing,, or baking. For those looking for new cookware, the experts strongly recommend cast iron. First of all, because it is easy and fast to cook in it. However, it is not all perfect, so let’s dive into the pros and cons of this type of cookware.
How good is cast iron cookware? Cast iron cookware is very good because of its excellent conductivity, heat capacity and material density. Cast iron cookware is durable, easy to maintain and non-stick. Cast iron cookware is perfect for cooking any meat, vegetable, mushroom or fish dishes, all kinds of soups, sauces and cereals.The high taste qualities of dishes cooked in such dishes are obtained due to the special properties of the alloy from which the cast iron is made.
Cast Iron Cookware Pros & Cons
Cast Iron Cookware Pros:
What are the advantages of cast iron cookware? The advantages of cast iron cookware include:
- Versatility. Cast iron can be used to prepare almost any dish. On cast iron, you can fry or stew vegetables, mushrooms, meat, fish,, or other foods that need long heat treatment.
- Excellent conductivity, heat capacity,, and material density. As a rule, cast iron pans have a thick bottom and walls, which is why they retain heat for a long time and do not cool down. Due to the peculiarities of the alloy, heating happens gradually and evenly over the entire surface of the bottom and walls, which means that in such a pan the products are heated evenly.
- Durability. Cast iron cookware lasts for years. With proper care, it can serve you for decades and not lose its properties. It is almost impossible to break. The only thing that can damage your cast iron cookware is if it falls on hard surfaces.
- Non-stick properties. If you follow simple rules, then food will not stick to a cast iron pan. Moreover, over time, non-stick properties of a cast iron cookware will only improve. Usually, a new frying pan is treated with oil for 30-40 minutes before use. This allows the oil to penetrate the pores of the bottom and sides of the pan and prevents food from burning the next time it is heated.
- Resistance to deformation and temperature extremes. Cast iron cookware is not scared of high temperatures and metal blades. Of course, it is still better not to experiment with it a lot.
- High taste quality of food. The food cooked in the cast iron cookware is very aromatic and has a richer taster than the food cooked in other type of cookware.
The high taste qualities of dishes cooked in such dishes are obtained due to the special properties of the alloy from which the cast iron is made. It consists of iron and carbon with the addition of phosphorus and silicon, which provide it with reduced thermal conductivity, due to which the heating of cast iron dishes occurs gradually and uniformly over the entire surface of the walls, bottom and lid, this is its advantageous difference from similar dishes made of aluminum, steel or glass.
That said, cast iron cookware is almost perfect. Why almost? Because it has a few disadvantages that need to be taken into the account. Let’s consider them.
Cast Iron Cookware Cons:
What are the disadvantages of cast iron cookware?
- Weight. Cast iron cookware is usually quite heavy and weigh several kilograms. This can be inconvenient, for example when frying pancakes.
- Susceptibility to corrosion. If cast iron is left wet, it will rust. If the basic rules for the care of such cookware are not followed, it may soon become rusty. This will happen if the surface is not wiped dry after washing. Rust is removed with a stiff brush, and then the cookware is calcined over a fire with salt and oiled. Cast iron enamel cookware does not rust, but care must be taken to prevent chips from appearing on it.
- Cast iron absorbs odors very well. Therefore, it is best not to store food in the pan in which it was prepared.
- Some foods can damage the cast iron surface by oxidizing it, such as tomatoes or apples. Therefore, it is best to avoid preparing meals with these ingredients.
- Cast iron cookware should not be washed in the dishwasher. It is undesirable to wash cast iron cookware with too aggressive detergents. In the dishwasher, the dishes are being washed for about thirty minutes: such prolonged exposure to water is undesirable for cast iron, after all, it is not covered with any protective layers. Cast iron cookware can be washed in the dishwasher on delicate modes only.
So, is cast iron cookware worth it? Yes, cast iron cookware is definitely worth it. Cast iron cookware will last longer than any other cookware, it is almost impossible to break it. With proper care, food in these dishes does not burn or stick, and it only gets better over the years. Cast iron dishes are wear-resistant and perfectly resist deformation, hold their shape at any temperature. The main advantage of cast iron is the delicate and unique taste of food cooked in it.
What Are The Best Foods to Cook in a Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware is perfect for cooking meat, fish, mushrooms and vegetables. Also, cast iron cookware is suitable for cooking soups, cereals and various sauces.
Thanks to the ingredients included in the alloy, the cooked food tastes great. Heating occurs evenly, due to which the dish is fried or boiled equally from all sides. The almost ready-to-eat dish should be removed from the heat and let it brew a little. The low thermal conductivity of the cast iron will prevent the frying pan or saucepan from cooling down too quickly, so the food served on the table will have the perfect taste, aroma and color.
Cast iron is suitable for any type of stove, both for gas and glass-ceramic or induction. They can even be used over an open fire. If you remove the handle, the cast iron pan can be placed in the oven.
Is cooking in cast iron healthy? Yes, cooking in cast iron is indeed healthy. Since cast iron is essentially iron with a small proportion of impurities, only a small amount of iron can be released during cooking. Food cooked in a cast-iron frying pan has good taste characteristics and is healthy. For example, food cooked in cast iron can help fight anemia.
What Should You Not Cook in Cast Iron?
- Sticky food (eggs, pancakes, rice)
New cast iron cookware is usually baked and oiled to create a protective layer. While this layer is too thin, it is better not to fry French omelet, scrambled eggs, pancakes, rice and other foods that easily stick to the surface in a pan. Otherwise, not only will you have to scrape the food off the surface, but you will also have to wash the pan with aggressive detergents, that can damage a thin protective coating. You will have to fry a lot of steaks and bacon during the first few months after buying on cast iron. The accumulated layers of fat and oil will naturally enhance the non-stick properties of the cookware, making it easy to cook anything that has a tendency to stick to the bottom.
- Acidic food (tomatoes, lemon)
The habit of stewing dishes with tomato paste in a cast-iron frying pan, deglazing cookware with wine vinegar or lemon juice will sooner or later turn into a favorite piece of kitchen utensils that will become unusable. The surface of the pan is covered with a natural protective layer of fat that penetrates into the pores invisible to the human eye during each cooking. The more often you cook in cast iron, the stronger the protective layer. However, with prolonged contact with acidic products, this layer is rapidly destroyed. The dishes will not be affected if, for example, after frying you decide to sprinkle the chicken with lemon juice, but if you are going to cook Bolognese sauce, use an enamel saucepan for this.
- Foods with a strong aroma
Due to the same porous surface, cast iron tends to absorb the odors of food. So think twice before baking a pie for dinner after you cook your salmon for lunch. If you often cook desserts or some very fragrant dish in your cast-iron pan, it’s better to have a separate pan for them.
- Delicate fish (tilapia, flounder)
You can fry fish in a cast iron pan, but only with some reservations. The ability of cast iron to retain heat for a long time has a detrimental effect on delicate pulp, for example, tilapia or flounder. On cast iron, delicate fish will either fall apart or turn into mashed potatoes, so such types are best cooked in non-stick cookware.
Remember that after cooking in a cast-iron dish, food should be put on plates or transferred to a container. Dishes are not stored directly in cast iron. First, because after prolonged contact with it, food acquires an unpleasant metallic taste. And secondly, acids and liquid in the dish itself will destroy the protective layer and contribute to the formation of rust.