Should you use cast iron cookware?
Cast iron particular is heavy, lasts for years and has great cooking properties. The cast iron parts heat evenly throughout so you can be sure that the food is cooked evenly. It is slowly heated in the oven and it is perfect of dishes that need to cook slowly for a long time. As it also cools equally slowly, food left in the pan will stay warm for a considerable period of time, saving you the hassle of reheating. As reheating food leads to a loss of its nutritional benefits, it also means you are eating healthier.
The other advantage of cast iron fittings is that it is versatile. It can be used for stewing, roasting, pan frying and deep frying. It can be used on a stove or in an oven and it is also great for outdoor cooking. Some of the well known brands of cast iron cookware are All-Clad, Lodge, John Wright, Le Creuset and Wagner, to name a few. Among the types of items available are pots, pans, muffin pans, dutch ovens, bread pans and griddles that sit on the stove burner.
One problem with cast iron is that it is heavy to lift and can create problems for those who are physically frail or those with physical disabilities. Even though manufacturers understand this and design parts with handles and grips for two-handed lifting, it’s always best to lift a piece and see if you’re comfortable with the weight before buying it. Keep in mind that cooked food will add weight.
The two types of cast iron particulars
There are two types of cast iron fittings:
1. Particulars of enameled cast iron it has a porcelain enamel coating that provides a non-stick surface that makes it easier to clean, resistant to rust and reduces the possibility of reacting with food during the cooking process. If you have been advised to reduce the amount of iron in your diet, this is the best option for you. Being non stick means it is possible to reduce the amount of oil used in cooking, which is another health benefit. Also, enameled cast iron ware does not need to be seasoned like bare cast iron ware, as we will see below.
2. Particulars of hollow cast iron it does not have the enamel coating on it so it is cheaper. It also has the advantage of leaching some of the iron in the food during the cooking process. This is dietary iron and adds to the nutritional value of food. This is it advantageous for those with iron deficiencies and that they need to increase iron in their diets.
However, hollow cast iron items require more care than the enameled version. This basically means that a new utensil has to be seasoned before it is used. Pickling is the process by which a coating of oil is attached to the metal surface to prevent rust and provide a bond-resistant surface for the hardware. This is not as complicated as it seems and can be done quickly and easily in the kitchen. Personal items should first be washed and dried thoroughly. Next a coating of vegetable oil or animal fat is applied to the cooking surface. The oils and fats that are usually used, especially those that have a lot of saturated fats and are therefore less likely to go rancid. These include palm or coconut oils, hydrogenated cooking oils such as Cisco and lard. Once the oil is applied the cookware is heated to allow the oil to bond to the metal.
Hollow cast iron cookware perhaps pre-seasoned, in which case no further seasoning is required. Most unseasoned cast iron cookware is sold with a protective coating. This needs to be removed before any seasoning can be done. The best method to do this is to use a scouring pad and rub the metal surface until the coating is removed and the bare metal is exposed.
Since normal ware cleaning techniques such as washing in the dishwasher will remove stains from bare cast iron ware, hand washing is better way to clean these utensils. Simply wash the parts in warm soapy water and immediately dry by hand. Then, while it’s still warm, apply a light coat of oil to the surface and it’s ready for the next use.