Since I am a housewife, I have a lot of work in the kitchen. I’ve been thinking a lot about cookware lately. This is based on some emails I’ve been getting asking for recommendations on cookware and also on my huge influx of quality kitchen gear I’ve received via wedding presents.
Over the years I’ve amassed a pretty fair collection of kitchen equipment and, to be completely honest, I use almost all of them fairly regularly. But there’s one piece of kitchen equipment that I use more than any other.
It’s one of the very first things I recommend people spend their hard-earned money on if they’re trying to get a kitchen started. The piece of equipment, of course, is a cast iron skillet.
My “colleagues” – chefs seeking alternatives to toxic non-stick cookware often find themselves in a bind. Most of them opt for stainless steel, which seems to be the healthiest alternative, but it is expensive, and it does not lend itself well to cooking foods like eggs, pancakes, and other dishes that non-stick cookware typically excels at. By comparison, a high-end, 12-inch stainless skillet runs well over $100, while a similar-sized cast-iron one costs less than $30.
If you have not yet discovered the benefits of cast iron cooking, here are 10 good reasons to persuade you to opt for it:
1. You can use it in your oven
Besides the stove top, you can use a cast iron skillet in the oven, at any temperature. This comes in handy for making corn bread, frittatas and flat bread.
2. You avoid toxic fumes
Replacing a non-stick skillet with a cast iron one allows you to avoid the toxic gasses that accompany most non-stick cookware. Cast iron can also replace aluminum cookware, which may also pose health hazards.
3. It is nonstick as well
Surprisingly enough, a preheated cast-iron skillet rivals the qualities of non-stick cookware, as long as it is properly seasoned and cared for. Just talk to employees at your local cookware store or read a book or an Internet article about cast iron care.
4. It is easy to clean up
Cast iron is easy to clean up. Not only does food easily lift off from cast-iron cookware, soap is not needed or recommended since it erodes the seasoning.
5. Health benefits you get
You can actually boost your iron intake through eating food cooked in cast- iron cookware. Since it’s made from iron, a little bit of mineral iron does get transferred over during cooking. This vital mineral is crucial for maintaining energy levels, and it helps revive your immune system.
6. You save on dish-washing detergent
Once your skillet is seasoned, it actually hurts it to wash it with soap. The soap will break up the tiny oil molecules that are embedded on the pan and make it not-so-nonstick. It’s also possible that the next thing you cook it will have a slightly soapy taste to it! So save on the soap! If you need to scrub your cast iron pan, simply use salt!
7. Food cooks extraordinary
An iron cast pan is so versatile that you can make hundreds of completely delicious foods in just one pan. For starters, you can make the best biscuits and gravy. You can even fry donuts in it!
So, by using a cast iron skillet you can create restaurant-quality food, homemade fish sticks, potato pancakes or French toast finished with golden brown, crispy exterior. Just contrast these features with non-stick cookware, which makes browning nearly impossible!
8. It is sturdy and wears well
Since it does not scratch, there is no need to use plastic utensils, and there is no fear of using your silverware to stir or scoop. It lasts for so long that many people still use cast iron cookware received from their parents and grandparents.
9. Any heat source can be used
In an emergency, cast iron cookware can be used over any heat source. As such, many disaster planning lists include cast iron as the survival cookware of choice.
10. It has been proven in the course of the time
It has been used for thousands of years. Readers already understand how new technologies are often the least healthy, while those used by earlier generations are often more beneficial and more in line with how we are designed. Our cookware choice is no exception!
However, there are a few drawbacks of cast iron cookware…
Although there are many advantages of cooking with a cast-iron pan, you should read about the drawbacks before you buy it:
Drawback no. 1: Cast iron pans are very heavy to handle,
Drawback no. 2: They require intentional maintenance in order to keep them rust-free and non-stick,
Drawback no. 3: Care is needed if you have a glass-top stove.
With all this in mind, they’re still a great choice for your kitchen. Believe me, once you take the plunge, you will wonder why it took you so long to start!