Many of us think we need amateur chef training and expensive kitchen gadgets to make dinners that go beyond boring. Fortunately, there are plenty of benefits of cast-iron cookware that can help you take your meals straight to flavor town without spending a fortune. Read all about cast-iron below!
While we were done with the Iron Age as a species around 2500 years ago, there is another Iron Age that doesn't show signs of slowing – the cast-iron advantages are undeniable in cooking!
Why cook with cast-iron?
Cast-iron cookware has been around for centuries, but even now, in the age of Teflon-coated, non-stick, ceramic cookware, cast iron is making a comeback – and with good reason!
While we can't deny the usefulness of certain high-tech kitchen gadgets (we love our air fryer and InstantPot), they're by no means necessary to make a great meal. The advantages of cast-iron cookware are that they can help you make a perfectly seared steak better than any fancy BBQ, while also offering some potential cast-iron health benefits.
We love everything about these many cast-iron cookware benefits, including the price, durability, and results. Below, we share more about why you should pick up a cast-iron pan and give it a try!
Why use a cast-iron skillet?
We strongly believe that high-quality kitchen tools should be available to anyone who needs them. Whether you are on a small, shoestring budget or you've got a swimming pool full of cash like Scrooge McDuck, you'll find prices accessible to you on cast-iron cookware!
Some cast-iron cookware sets can get pretty pricey, but if you shop around, you'll find that there are incredibly affordable and high-quality products. We like these ones as a simple, middle-ground option that's still top-quality.
Top Tip: For your first cast-iron pan, choose a mid-sized option that functions as a “jack-of-all-trades.” Hone your skills with a smaller pan before getting a more sizable piece of cookware.
How long does cast-iron last?
Even if you manage to live longer than the Queen of England, your cast-iron pan (if properly maintained) will outlive you and your children. Possibly your grandchildren too!
One of the benefits of a cast-iron skillet is that it contains, well, cast-iron! Cast-iron is tough as nails and incredibly durable – if you lift one to feel its weight, you'll understand what we mean.
This hyper-durable material can take a ton of punishment, but like any great superhero, it also has its kryptonite: water. Fortunately, even that won't kill it, and with some elbow grease, you can bring it back to life after rusting.
Top Tip: The longer you live, the more impressed you will be by the longevity of your cast-iron pan. So, live a long and happy life!
Why use cast-iron for searing?
Cooking food like steak requires an extremely hot cooking surface, and luckily, that's one of the best cast-iron pan benefits!
Many products, especially nonstick coated pans, aren't capable of getting up to very high temperatures without the coating peeling off and tossing some carcinogens into the air and your meal.
Every piece of meat will taste better when seared on a super-hot cast-iron pan as you take advantage of the Maillard process, which browns the outside of the meat and changes its chemical structure – the next time you're enjoying a seared steak, thank science!
Beyond some taste benefits, there may even be some health benefits of cooking with cast-iron, as the pan will imbue your meals with traces of a very helpful essential mineral: iron.
Top Tip: Cast-iron will not melt until it reaches a temperature of 2200°F, and won't lose its structural integrity until around 700°F. So, feel free to use your cast-iron with any cooker, stove, or open fire at even the highest temperatures.
Why use cast-iron skillet pans if they're so high maintenance?
We've heard this before as well, but cast-iron isn't any harder to care for than any other pan – it just needs a slightly different touch. Cast-iron needs some loving seasoning at first and more simple maintenance continuously. Just like a child, over time, it requires less care.
Don't worry, though! Cast-iron is not as much work as a child, despite many common misconceptions that it's easy to wreck your cast-iron cookware. You can even buy a cast-iron pan pre-seasoned if you don't feel like messing with it.
From there, simple maintenance means you'll want to do a light reseason from time to time, which you can do in a few minutes with a light coat of oil and a stovetop burner on low.
Top Tip: Buy pre-seasoned cast-iron, or season yourself with the help of some cooking oil and a hot oven. Ensure your cast-iron is fully dry before storing it in the cupboard after use.
Why is cast-iron better for cooking?
We don't know about you, but what we don't need are hundreds of kitchen tools clogging up our cupboards, collecting dust – you can use cast-iron for cooking just about anything!
One of the advantages of cast-iron skillet cooking is beautifully searing steaks, as we mentioned earlier, but these pans are far more versatile than that.
Alongside big cuts of meat like pork chops and bacon, these babies are more than capable of whipping up delicious scrambled eggs, pancakes, or even grilled cheese. Furthermore, because all cast-iron cookware is oven-safe, you can use them to make pizza, bread, or an apple pie.
Top Tip: Avoid cooking foods with acidic properties (such as tomatoes or bolognese sauce) in your cast-iron pans, as these have the potential to destroy the seasoning you worked so hard to achieve.
Where can you use cast-iron?
One of the primary benefits of cast-iron cooking is its versatility, not only with what you can cook in the pan, but where you can cook it. You can use cast-iron pans almost anywhere, with any stovetop, oven, or grill. But why draw the line at keeping your cookware in the kitchen?
Cast iron pans are perfect for taking on camping trips and to festivals. There's nothing quite like setting up camp, building a crackling fire, breaking out the cast-iron pan, and cooking some delicious food under the stars.
Top Tip: When cooking with a cast-iron pan, especially at high temperatures, the handle of these pans gets extremely hot. Buying a silicon handle or using an oven mitt is essential if you enjoy keeping the skin on the palms of your hands.
How do you clean cast-iron?
Our favorite reason in the long list of cast-iron benefits is easy after-dinner clean-up. When you do cast-iron cooking correctly, cleaning this type of cookware is a breeze.
An adequately seasoned and well-maintained pan will have a natural non-stick coating that won't need intense scrubbing after dinner. It's essential to use only light dish soap and a non-abrasive cleaning utensil, or you'll destroy the seasoning.
Never leave the pan to soak, either – not that you'll need to, if you look after the skillet properly!
Top Tip: As soon as your food is ready, serve it up and run your cast-iron pan under a hot tap, gently removing any food particles, and wipe it clean with a paper towel and a little oil. Then, come back to season the pan after dinner.
Thanks for reading our list of cast-iron cooking benefits, and we hope you consider investing in a piece and giving cast-iron cooking a try yourself!
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