The Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware makes a fabulous choice for your kitchen pots and pans. They are the desired cookware of chef’s because of their even heat distribution and durability. If you take care of them, they will last forever and even get better with age. Let’s look at the properties and benefits of cast iron cookware and compare them to other popular cookware.
What is Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware has been around for 100′s of years, but lost it’s popularity in the 1960′s due to the introduction of Teflon surfaces. Most cast iron pots are cast from a single sheet of metal to ensure even heat distribution. It has excellent heat retention and diffusion. It is also great for frying or searing food as it can withstand high temperatures.
How does Cast Iron Compare to other Cookware?
Nonstick cookware is a popular choice of the modern day cook. Nonstick pans are convenient, use less oil and fat, and they are easy to keep clean. Cast iron cookware, on the other hand, is healthy to use, effective at cooking food, extremely durable and actually gets better with age.
Cast Iron Vs Teflon
The most common nonstick finish we see today in cookware is Teflon. Teflon is a synthetic resin made of plastic polymers. Teflon contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a carcinogenic chemical. When heated above 260 degrees celcius this chemical is released into the atmosphere and we breath it in. We can also digest particles that have scratched off the surface during cooking. All of this is not good for our health.
Cast iron does not have any toxic chemicals associated with it. As iron is an element, it can leech into food. Most people consider this a health benefit, especially as many people lack dietary iron in their diet. However, others that have excessive iron intake or any iron overload diseases, such as hemochromatosis, are best to avoid iron cookware.
Teflon, in most cases, can be cheaper to purchase than cast iron, and are easier to keep clean. However, Cast iron is far more durable, healthy and long-lasting.
Cast Iron Vs Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel is actually a mix of several different metals, steel, chromium and nickel. Stainless steel has no health risks and the cookware a decent life span depending on the quality. The quality of stainless steel can vary greatly. Thin stainless steel cookware will heat unevenly, so it would be wise to invest in good quality stainless steel.
Not all grades of stainless steel are magnetic, so they may not work on induction cooktops. They are also not nonstick, so more oil is needed when cooking, and more elbow grease is needed when cleaning. They also can lose their shine and discolour with time.
Cast iron get’s better with time and can be almost as good as teflon when it comes to having a nonstick finish. You also need to use less oil when cooking food.
Cast Iron Vs Aluminium
Aluminium is a popular material for cookware as it is inexpensive and lightweight. However, aluminium is a reactive metal, and to the detriment of your health, it can leach into your food.
Do not use aluminium pots that are in a poor condition as larger amounts of aluminium will be absorbed in your food. Also don’t store food in aluminium for too long.
The differences between cast iron and aluminium cookware are vast. Cast iron is far more durable, healthy and effective as cookware however, they are also more expensive.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware
Cast Iron cookware require a little bit of maintenance which is referred to as “seasoning”. Seasoning involves heating oil/ or fat at a high temperature so that it creates a stick-resistant coating. It also ensures that they remain rust free. While it can be an inconvenience to some, it may not be an issue for others. It is best to follow manufacturers instructions for how to keep your cookware clean and maintained. It is advised to use soap sparingly to maintain the quality and durability of the cookware. Although you have to spend a little time on maintenance the benefits are still superior to other cookware.
Cast iron cookware is often desired by chefs, as it is dense and provides unparalleled heat capacity. Cast iron contains no harmful chemicals, is durable, and can be used on induction cooktops. Whilst it is expensive and requires a little more maintenance, the benefits of cast iron makes it ideal cookware.