CAST IRON COOKWARE- A COMPLETE GUIDE

A TO Z OF CAST-IRON COOKWARE- A COMPLETE GUIDE

If we look out for healthier cooking options in our kitchen, then Cast-Iron cookware for sure makes it the list of one of the safest cookware that we can use. It has its various reasons- the top one being that even if it leaches into the food, it will add to the health and not hamper the internal systems of our body, like that of Aluminium or Non- stick Pans.

Let’s dig deep and find out more about Cast- Iron cookware in detail.

What is Cast Iron?
Iron is “Metal“ in pure form

Whereas
According to Wikipedia- “Cast iron is a group of Iron- Carbon Alloys” with a carbon content of more than 2%.

To put it in simple terms.- 

“Cast Iron” is an “Alloy(mixture) of Iron combined with Carbon” (wherein carbon is more than 2%).

Wondering why do we use Carbon as a combination and not the pure form of Iron to make iron Cookware?

Iron is soft in nature and goes to become even softer when we heat it. So it becomes rather difficult to make pots and pans out of them. Usage of more than 2% Carbon makes the alloy harder and thus it becomes easier to frame them into the desired shapes of Pots and Pans- which are termed as – CAST IRON COOKWARE.

Features of Cast-iron Cookware

features of CAST-IRON cookware

  • They are comparatively thicker and heavier than similar sized pans made of some other material (stainless steel/aluminum etc).
  • Before cooking in Cast-Iron Vessels we need to make sure that we heat the vessel properly for a leveled cooking. Even though the cookware retains heat but does not spread evenly over the complete vessel.
  • This cookware is Oven- safe.
  • They are durable and can be used at very high temperatures, hence can very well be used for frying our food.
  • The more we use our Cast Iron Pans, the better they become over time, as they are more seasoned with every use. Proper seasoning of the pans protects the cookware from rusting as well. Just make sure to add a layer of vegetable oil to the pan, every once in a while.
  • Since in most cases, the pan is cast in a single piece of metal, including the handle, we need to make sure to take cautions to avoid burns, as the handles will be equally hot as the vessel while cooking,
  • Some parts of iron leeches into the food while cooking, especially while cooking acidic items like tomatoes. Though the leeching is non-toxic and will not harm in any way, yet the taste of the recipe changes. So if the taste of iron over-powers the dish then, try cooking that dish in some other vessel next time.
  • It is advised to empty the contents out of the iron cookware immediately after it is cooked, into some other(glass or steel) container. It stops further leaching of iron into the cooked food. Vegetables like Spinach can even turn black if kept in the Cast-iron vessel for long.
Advantages of Cast iron Cookware

ADVANTAGES OF CAST-IRON COOKWARE

  • The first and the foremost advantage of Cast Iron Cookware is that it adds iron to your food, thereby filling up the needs of any iron deficiency in your body.
  • These Pans are not very expensive, and pretty affordable.
  • The Cast -Iron Cookware is tough and lasts for ages, thereby guaranteeing hassle-free cooking for a lifetime.
  • Cast Iron Cookware is Chemical-free, Non- Toxic Pans that do not harm your body in any way.
  • As the cookware retains heat well, it browns the food very properly, enhancing the taste of the dish.
  • Proper and regular seasoning of the pan develops a layer on top of it, and serves you as good as a Non- Stick Pan, and mind you, this is without any harmful and chemical coatings of the actual Non-stick Pans that are harmful to the body.
  • After the initial seasoning of the Pan, the cookware requires very little effort for cleaning and maintenance.
Disadvantages of Cast-Iron Cookware

dis-ADVANTAGES OF CAST-IRON COOKWARE

  • The first disadvantage of Cast-iron Cookware is that it rusts and rust can be toxic to our body. So maintenance and seasoning of the vessel with a layer of oil, is a must before use.
  • Another drawback is that it is reactive to “Acidic” food items (tomatoes, tamarind, lemons, raw mangoes, vinegar etc) , that can even go to the extent of changing the actual texture and taste of the food.
  • The heat capacity of Cast-Iron Cookware is good but the conductivity is bad, hence to heat up, the cast-iron cookware take time.
  • Even though it turns almost Non- Stick after proper seasoning, every time we wash the cookware, it turns back to the way it was and we would require to season the vessel all over again.

NOTE- The disadvantages are not such that they cannot be taken care of, they are such that, they can be overlooked and you can very well go in for your purchase  

How to maintain,clean and season Cast-iron cookware

HOW TO MAINTAIN, CLEAN AND SEASON OUR CAST-IRON COOKWARE?

Just follow the below procedure for maintaining your Iron-ore Cookware and you will fall in love with them.  After all, it’s a life-long journey that they are going to accompany you in.

THE FIRST SEASONING AFTER PURCHASE

After we purchase the Cookware- before using the pan we‘ll need to season it.

  • Heat the pan on a stove until there is smoke coming out of it.
  • Rub and cover the pan with a layer of oil.
  • Let the pan cool down.
  • Repeat the process a couple of times, and your pan is ready for use

Thorough cleaning of the pan by scrubbing out all the junk is very necessary for proper maintenance of the vessel.

Here are the methods of Cleaning the Vessel “Before” and “After” use.  

CLEANING THE VESSEL BEFORE USE

There are two ways that I clean my Cast- Iron Pans, removing all the rust and other toxins on them (if it is being used after a long time)-

  1. Take a steel scrub with a bit of dish-wash on it and rub the steel scrub in circular motions on the complete vessel (especially the rusted area0 till you see that the rust is washed out.

OR

  1. Take salt and sprinkle it on the pan. With a damp cloth- rub the salt on the pan in circular motions, till the rusted area is completely clean.
  • Wash the pan under running water. You can use some soap to first clean the pan with it and then put the pan under the running tap, till it is completely clean.
  • After that, dry the pan by wiping it with a dry towel or simply place it on the burner, till all the water evaporates.

Your vessel is not ready for use even after washing it, until and unless you Re-season it.            

   Re-seasoning of the vessel “after” washing it and “before” use:

  • Make sure that there are no traces of soap and water left on the vessel, and the vessel is completely dry
  • Now rub some vegetable oil (any oil can be used) on the complete vessel. Make sure there is no extra oil leaking out (Wipe off with a tissue if any)
  • Then place it on the flame of the stove till the smoke starts coming out.
  • Let it cool down and the seasoning is done. Now you have a natural Non- Stick pan ready for use..

Apply this method before every use of your Iron-ore Cookware.

CLEANING THE VESSEL AFTER USE

Below is the method that I use to “Clean” and  “Store” my Cast-Iron Cookware after use.

  • It is easy to clean the vessel when it is still hot.
  • So after cooking in your Cast Iron Pan, empty its contents in a different container.
  • When the vessel is still warm-hot (not like burning hot, as there are chances that it will crack), put it under water, and with a dish wash and the hard side of the sponge, just clean it up.
  • Then wipe it dry and apply a thin layer of oil with a tissue- inside-out so that it does not rust.
  • Finally, store it away in a ventilated area.

REGULAR USE OF THE VESSEL FOR BEST RESULTS AND MAINTENANCE

The best way to maintain the vessel is using it on a regular basis for frying, searing or simply making food in it. The more you use it, the better the seasoning becomes.

Things to keep in mind while buying Cast-Iron Cookware

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE BUYING CAST-IRON COOKWARE

  • Weight of the Pan – It is advised to buy a cast-iron pan with a heavy base as heavy pans hold more heat and it becomes relatively easy to cook authentic food which is rich in iron.
  • Take a look at the Handles –if you happen to find cookware with a handle that is covered with a material that is not a good conductor of heat (e.g. Wood) then go for it

As normally a cast-iron pan is cast as a single metal (including the handle), so the chances of getting burnt rises.

  • Don’t judge your Cast-Iron Cookware with Cost –With Cast Iron Cookware I can definitely say that the cost of the product does not increase its value or betterment. If we pay a higher price, then it’s for the brand that we are paying. Cheaper Cast-Iron products definitely do not prove that they are less worthy.
  • Which is Better- Bare Cast Iron or Enamel coated Cast Iron – Enamel coated Cast-iron comes Pre-seasoned by the manufacturer hence we do not need to season it for making it Non-Stick

Whereas

Bare Cast- Iron Cookware needs to be properly seasoned before use.   Hence, to gain the real benefits of Cast-Iron Cookware- A Bare  Cast-iron Cookware is recommended.

Where to buy Cast-Iron cookware

WHERE TO BUY CAST-IRON COOKWARE?

Frankly speaking, Cast-Iron Cookware, even if brought from the local market or roadside vendors, can turn out to be excellent.

You can even buy them in the street markets where Cookware is sold in your city. Further such kinds of items is also available in Fests (Mela) that take place over time.

You can buy them from anywhere, just make sure that they are Authentic Cast- Iron Cookware.  

Further, if you are looking out to buy them online, here is what I recommend. You will be amazed to see the variety that is available online- From Frying Pans to Griddles, from Waffle Iron to Appe-makers, from Tawa to Kadhai, from Woks to Flattop Grills- we have everything under the same roof for you, which will be delivered right at your doorstep.

PrODUCT RECOMMENDATION

FOR MY INDIAN READERS

Le Creuset : Signature Cast Iron Square Grillit, 26 cm

Check out the Complete Range–  HERE.

FOR MY INDIAN READERS

Meyer: Induction Base Cast Iron Tawa,
28 cm

Check out the Complete Range-  HERE.

FOR MY INDIAN READERS

Lodge: Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet,
13.25 inches

Check out the Complete Range- HERE.

FOR MY INTERNATIONAL READERS


Lodge: Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet,
10.25 inches

Check out the Complete Range-  HERE.

Cast-Iron Cookware

SIGNING OFF:

Cast- Iron Cookware is a very good option for your kitchen, with a lot of advantages and avoidable disadvantages.

It’s a complete myth that Cast-Iron is very hard to maintain. No, not at all – It’s cake-work once you start doing it. Further, the health benefits that it gives is definitely not something that can be overlooked.

Further, your Cast-Iron cookware lasts for a lifetime, and some of them are so good that they can even last for generations.

Try one for yourself and if you like them, have a few of them in your kitchen collection. You will definitely love them.

DON’T SKIP THIS- They can act as a very good self-defense tool for you as well. So the next time a burglar enters your house- you know what to pick😉

Happy Cooking.

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