We’d be looking at the benefits of cast iron pans. Are you interested in knowing the benefits embedded in a cast iron pan? Then read through this guide. Do take note of the important points.
When you think of cast iron pans, you probably picture a campfire. Maybe some cowboys out on the range, sizzling up some steaks while swapping tall tales of legendary heroes and lost loves. But while it’s true this material has very humble beginnings, there’s actually a lot of ways you can use cast iron – in a lot of places. You can even use cast iron in restaurants!
Now you’re probably thinking, “That can’t be true. It’s impractical to use a cast-iron skillet in a restaurant.” But the truth is that this age-old material is becoming more and more popular in commercial settings. Let’s explore some of the benefits cast iron has to offer and some of the myths that prevent it from being used as widely as it could be.
Cast Iron skillets are undeniably cool, and definitely one of the internet’s favorite obsessions, but are they actually useful? Is there any advantage to cooking in a cast iron pan instead of stainless steel or Teflon one, or is it all hype?
The truth is that cast iron actually doesn’t heat evenly at all, and is in fact quite a poor conductor of heat, which is its main advantage. Once it gets hot, its “high volumetric heat capacity” means it stays hot, making it better at cooking. If you take the time to preheat your skillet for about ten minutes before plopping your steak or eggs into it, then your pan won’t be cooled down by the addition of food, and end up cooking that food more evenly.
Cast iron also emits more heat (which makes sense, since there’s more heat crammed inside the pan), so it cooks more of the food. While steel essentially only cooks the part of the food that’s touching the pan, cast iron radiates heat out at a far higher level, meaning more food gets cooked.
How is Cast Iron Cookware Made?
Cast iron cookware is made by melting blocks of iron and steel together in a factory. Then chemicals are added to the mixture in order to raise its carbon levels. Next, the molten metal is poured into a mold made of sand, water, and powdered clay. When the cast iron pot or pan is cool, the sand mold is broken and the cookware is released. Workers then smooth each piece before it’s ready to be sold.
The truth is, cast iron skillets are pretty sturdy because they’re made out of, you know, iron. The only thing you really need to worry about is rust, which means you need to minimize the time your cast iron spends wet.
Can you use soap to clean cast iron?
Yes! This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about cast iron. While it’s true that cast iron pans do need to build up a coating in order to stay non-stick, using a little bit of dish soap won’t hurt anything. The more important thing to remember is to always dry your cast iron immediately after washing it. Otherwise, you run the risk of rust.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that routine re-seasoning is recommended. You should coat your pan with a thin layer of melted vegetable oil or shortening and bake it between 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. That level of heat should kill any bacteria just as effectively as soap, if not more so. So while you can use soap to wash your cast iron pans, you don’t necessarily need to.
How To Clean And Season Cast Iron Skillets
Cast iron cookware does need a little more preparation than the typical stainless steel pan, but the extra work is worth it. These pans can last a lifetime or longer. Watch this video from Martha Stewart on how to season and clean your cast iron pans.
Benefits Of Cast Iron Pans
There are plenty of benefits of a cast iron pan. For starters, once your cast iron skillet has a nice sheen to it, it’s basically nonstick. That means you can cook with less oil, which means it’s a health bonus!
- It Improves with Use
One of its greatest advantages is that a cast-iron pan is possibly the only piece of kitchen gear you can buy that noticeably improves after years of heavy use. As you cook in it, a cast-iron pan gradually develops a natural, slick patina, called seasoning, which releases food easily. A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can become just as nonstick as an aluminum or stainless-steel pan and will definitely outlast them.
- It Maintains Heat
Cast iron doesn’t heat very evenly because its thermal conductivity, or ability to transfer heat from one part of the metal to another, is very low. What cast iron does do well is hold on to heat: Once a cast-iron pan is hot, it will stay that way much more effectively than stainless steel.
This makes cast iron the ideal material for high-heat applications like searing steak. The initial drop in temperature caused by adding the relatively low- temperature steak to the hot skillet will be much smaller in cast iron, allowing for higher heat and better browning. And better browning means a more delicious steak.
Another one of the benefits of cast iron cookware is that they are chemical-free. So they are a great alternative to nonstick pans since most contain perfluorocarbons, which is a chemical linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage, and more.
- It’s Virtually Indestructible
The durability of cast iron is legendary—many people are still cooking on cast-iron pans handed down through their family for generations. Cast iron is virtually indestructible and easily restored if mistreated.
- Long Life Span
Cast iron cookware has a long life span as well. Many people still use cast iron pans inherited from their parents or grandparents.
- Adds Iron To Your Food
Possibly one of the greatest cast iron skillet health benefits is that it adds iron to your food. Many people suffer from iron deficiency, and cooking with cast iron pans can help increase your iron content by as much as 20 times!
Cast iron is a visually appealing presentation piece
Let’s not forget that the classic look of these products can contribute to an eye-catching presentation in a variety of settings. From country-themed restaurants to modern rustic establishments, customers love serving pieces made of natural materials that are designed with a classic appearance.
- Use In The Stove And Oven
Probably the best thing about cooking with cast iron is its versatility. This material can be used with pretty much any heat source—from open flame to induction. This, of course, includes use in commercial ovens.
Not only will you be able to enjoy the effect cast iron can provide for your baked mac and cheese and fruit cobblers, but you can also experience the convenience of a naturally non-stick surface for making eggs and more.
- Easy to Clean
One of the most popular benefits of cast iron pans is that they are easy to clean. They don’t require soap and food lifts off the pan easily.
- Less Expensive
Cast iron cookware is often less expensive than stainless steel. So if you’re looking to replace a pan, be sure to check out cast iron skillets. Not only will you save a buck, but you’ll also gain some benefits of cast iron cooking.
- Cast iron is natural
Unlike some non-stick pan coatings, cast iron pans are generally made of 100% natural materials—namely iron and oil. This is a fantastic benefit for farm-to-table restaurants or any establishment that focuses on clean cooking and natural ingredients.
Cookware doesn’t get any more natural than iron.
Let’s take a closer look at iron itself. Now as you can probably guess, cast iron cookware is made out of… yep, you guessed it, iron!
Iron is not a rare metal like gold. In fact, iron covers about 5 percent of the Earth’s crust. However, you won’t find large nuggets of iron laying around. Iron is mostly bound in silica rock and sand. Therefore iron requires processing is needed to extract the metal from the sand and rock.
Cast iron cookware is made from 97-98% pure iron.
Iron is very soft as metals go and therefore, doesn’t make for very sturdy pans. To combat this problem, carbon is added to the pans which harden the material. However, even with added carbon cast iron pans are around 97-98% pure iron. Which also makes it super easy to analyze for the health effects and easy to find out if cast iron cookware is safe to cook with.
Here are some facts about using cast iron pans.
- Cast iron is tough. There’s a reason why there are old cast iron pans at yard sales and antique shops. It is very difficult to completely ruin them.
- Once cast iron is hot, it stays hot. So cast iron pans are great for searing meat.
- Cast iron is great for keeping food warm since it holds heat for a considerable length of time.
- Every time you cook in your cast iron pans you are making them better by seasoning them.
- During the cooking process, a small amount of iron is absorbed into the foods.
- Cast iron skillets and dutch ovens display your food beautifully. This is especially true when they are used for bread or pies.
Cast iron cookware has been around forever, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The benefits of cast iron pans are much better than the generic stainless steel and a far cry from the toxins associated with cooking on nonstick, Teflon pans — No more worries about those chemicals deposits into your food.