Proper cookware is essential not only for chefs, but for every day cooks as well. Cheap cookware can be difficult to clean and may be flimsy or inadequate over extended periods of time. For those who like to cook, cast iron cookware has been considered the gold standard for decades.
What Is Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware consists of a variety of different cooking tools. While many people associate cast iron cookware with skillets or frying pans, this type of material is used for griddles, flattop grills, crepe makers, deep fryers, dutch ovens and more.
Cookware that is made from cast iron can retain heat and can be used for extremely high temperatures. Because the material is heavy-duty, its durability makes cooking easy. Cast iron cookware is also used for non-stick cooking with lots of seasoning.
3 Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware
- Balanced Heating. Pots, pans and grills that are not cast iron must be positioned correctly for over-all heating. If food is not monitored, uneven heat can create cold patches in a dish. No matter what surface is used for cooking with cast iron, the area is evenly heated. This is especially beneficial for cooking food that is designed to be crispy such as specific breads or side dishes.
- Cast Iron is Diet-Friendly. When used with seasoning, cast iron cookware does not cause food to stick. Because the need for using oil or butter is eliminated, food generally has less fat and less calories. This type of cooking is highly beneficial for those who have dietary restrictions or high cholesterol.
- Minimal Cleaning. Many people choose to buy cast iron cookware because of the minimal cleaning that is required after a cooked meal. Once seasoning is added, the pan or griddle becomes non-stick and does not require butter or oils for lubrication.
How To Properly Clean Cast Iron
Since cast iron cookware requires minimal cleaning, it’s highly coveted by experienced and new cooks alike. While this type of material does not require vegetable or olive oil to lubricate the skillet, it does still need to be cleaned.
After cooking a meal, simply wash the cookware under warm water. Soap rarely needs to be added during this process, but it can be for stubborn food particles. By pouring simmering water onto the pan, it can then soak for a few minutes before drying.
Drying can be done with a cloth or paper towel. Black residue is normal when using a cast iron skillet. If the cloth or paper towel has black smudges after drying it is most-likely caused from seasoning. After drying, many people use a very light layer of seasoning spray or oil to wipe down the surface. This is not a required step for cleaning, but it can get any remaining residue that might be left behind.
What To Look For In A Cast Iron Cookware Set
The weight of a good cast iron cookware set can vary. In general, the heavier the set is, the more ideal it is when it comes to retaining heat. A heavier cookware set is considered authentic and has been used over a longer period of time. While they may be technologically more advanced in their heating process, heavier sets can cost more.
Lighter sets may work better depending on the strength of the individual and their budget. Carbon steel products are a common lighter alternative that have similar properties, but do not weigh as much.
Cookware handles are also important when purchasing cast iron cookware. Proper hand positioning is crucial when working with heat. Some skillets may require pot handles or a heating cloth to cover potentially dangerous areas of the cookware. When shopping for any pot or pan, finding cookware that are small enough to easily maneuver is crucial.
Cast iron cookware generally comes in two different styles: those with enamel and those without. Enamel coated cookware are nonstick and non-reactive, meaning they do not need to be seasoned. Cookware that does not have enamel or porcelain may be less expensive, but they can take longer to become non-stick.
Cast Iron Reviews
- Lodge Cast Iron Cookware. The Lodge company was founded in the 1800s and is known for quality cookware. This brand is particularly desirable for those who want different sized skillets or pans. This cookware is highly rated for its durability and heat distribution. It is not not known for extra details or intricate design, but is able to be easily cleaned for daily cooking needs.
- AmazonBasics Cast Iron Set. AmazonBasics is known for producing high quality generic products, and this is a great option from them. It comes with five pieces, including a dutch oven, two skillets and a griddle.
- Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle. This cookware is considered high end and is designed by a French company that specializes in its high-quality, enameled, cast iron pans. The cast is crafted in individual sand molds and do not require seasoning. This type of pan provides a large loop handle for easier handling.
- Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet. Smithey Ironware is a vintage cookware company that once restored pans and skillets to their original 19th century style. Now the company has created a cast iron cookware line that combines vintage techniques with modern handling technology. This pan has a heavy-gauge iron and nonstick surface.
- Field Cast Iron Skillet. This is an essential pan to have when camping. For outdoor cooking, this pan can easily cook breakfast while handling high-heat flames. 8 inch pans made by Field can fit two NY strip steaks, but weighs less than five pounds. For a lighter choice when it comes to cast iron skillets, this pan is perfect for traveling.
- Victoria Cast Iron Skillet. This large frying pan comes with a helper handle and is 100% Kosher certified. One of the benefits to this type of pan is its design. The Victoria Cast Iron Skillet has curved, long handles to make cooking easier. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and can be used for cooking, baking and grilling. It has 100% non-GMO flaxseed oil as a coating for a potentially healthier surface.
Investing in the right cast iron cookware set is a decision that can last for many years. Cast iron cookware is durable and does not need to be frequently replaced. When buying a cookware set, assessing how you cook as well as what you cook should be factored in to your decision. Cast iron cookware provides an easily cleanable way to cook a variety of meals.