Cast iron frying pans have been a staple in kitchens for many years. They are tough, reliable, and long-lasting. With proper care, cast iron cookware can withstand the test of time. What’s more, these pans can develop their own natural nonstick surface when seasoned, making them even more versatile. However, it’s important to consider that just because something has been around for a while, it may not always be the best choice. Let’s explore why cast iron pans are still a fantastic option for everyone who still uses them.
Holding the Heat
One of the standout features of cast iron pans is their excellent heat retention. Once heated, these pans keep their heat, making them perfect for keeping your food hot. However, it’s important to note that they do take a bit of time to warm up and cool down. Moreover, cast iron pans can be quite heavy, so it’s always best to lift them with care.
Cast iron pans are incredibly versatile and can be used on various heat sources. Whether you’re using a gas, electric, or induction stove, these pans will work wonders. In fact, you can even place them directly in the oven, making them perfect for stove-to-oven dishes like frittatas. Furthermore, if you enjoy outdoor cooking, cast iron pans can be used over an open flame, such as a campfire. The possibilities are endless!
Easy to Clean
Contrary to popular belief, cleaning cast iron pans is not as daunting as it may seem. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite simple. Thanks to their natural nonstick surface, cleaning cast iron pans can be even easier than cleaning cookware made from aluminum or glass.
Variety of Shapes and Sizes
Cast iron cookware comes in a wide array of shapes and sizes. From pots and cake pans to pizza pans and griddles, there is a cast iron option for every cooking need. It’s important to keep this in mind and adjust recipes accordingly if you’re used to using other types of cookware. The best part is that all cast iron pans have the same qualities of retaining heat and providing a nonstick surface.
Affordable and Long-Lasting
One of the great advantages of cast iron cookware is its affordability. Not only are these pots and pans reasonably priced, but they are also built to last. In fact, with proper care, cast iron cookware can last a lifetime. Additionally, you might stumble upon some amazing deals on cast iron cookware at secondhand shops or thrift stores. Don’t be discouraged by aged or corroded cast iron pans, as they can often be restored to their former glory.
From Oven to Table
Many cast iron pots and similar items are not only practical but also aesthetically pleasing. They can be used for serving dishes directly to the table, saving you from washing extra dishes. In fact, numerous eateries use small cast iron frying pans to serve mac and cheese, mini pizzas, and shakshouka. Furthermore, cast iron’s excellent heat retention ensures that your meals stay warm throughout the entire meal.
Boosting Iron Intake
Research suggests that cooking certain foods in cast iron pans can increase their iron content. Although it is not a cure for iron deficiency anemia, it can be beneficial for those who need to increase their iron levels in addition to supplements and dietary changes.
However, it’s important to note that not all foods cooked in cast iron will have higher iron levels. Foods high in acidity, such as tomato sauce, rice, fried eggs, and applesauce, are more likely to benefit from cooking in cast iron due to enhanced iron absorption.
A Word of Caution
While cast iron cookware can be beneficial for iron intake, it’s important to consume iron in moderation. Too much iron can have negative effects on the body, such as increased production of free radicals. Excessive iron intake has also been linked to diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer.
Individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, as well as women who menstruate, typically do not need to worry about consuming too much iron. However, for those who consume a lot of red meat, take fortified foods, or have genetic hemochromatosis, it’s essential to be mindful of iron intake, especially when using cast iron cookware. Properly seasoning the pans can help limit iron absorption into meals. It’s worth noting that seasoned and older cookware is less likely to absorb iron compared to newer ones.
Cast iron cookware is suitable for various cooking techniques, including searing, baking, frying, roasting, sautéing, and browning. It can be used to prepare a wide range of foods, from baked goods and meats to eggs and vegetables.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain foods, especially acidic ones like tomatoes, wine, and vinegar, are more prone to absorbing iron and altering the flavor of the dish. Furthermore, these ingredients may scratch the nonstick surface, requiring more frequent seasoning of the pan. While cast iron pans have their advantages and disadvantages, they can be a worthwhile investment if they meet your specific cooking needs.