Benefits of Cooking with Cast Iron
No matter how appealing the television star's face was on the box of cookware, if the shiny pan is hard to clean, gets scratched easily, and costs a lot of money, you'll find cooking to be less appealing. Cast-iron cookware has a low celebrity profile, but can help you make better recipes with fewer problems.
Low Cost, High Value
Most cast-iron cookware comes in non-enameled versions. These skillets, Dutch ovens, and sauté pans will seem like a deal after browsing the aisles looking at high-end cookware. But for $15–$20 for new skillets (and often less for those you may find at a yard sale or flea market), you'll come home with a pan that will gain value with each dish you make. New cast-iron skillets cost 10–50 percent less than skillets made from other materials.
Even though we call a deep pan with a tightly fitting lid a Dutch oven, it wasn't invented by the Dutch. Cast-iron pots with lids have been used for hundreds of years and on several continents. In the late 1600s, the Dutch system of creating these pans was seen as the most advanced, and they produced the nicest pans.
The Ability to Cook on High Heat
Many non-stick and other lightweight pans cannot be used over high heat. Because the metal is thin and conducts heat quickly, they can get too hot and then cool off easily. But with cast iron, you can place your pan over high heat. You can even place your pan directly over the hot coals on a grill or over a campfire.
It Will Become a Nonstick Pan
When you first get your skillet, you have to season it a few times before you can cook something without worrying about it sticking. But once you've got a healthy seasoning base on the skillet, you'll find yourself cooking with less oil than you would in other pans. When you have a skillet with at least several months of seasoning, you can cut the oil called for in the recipe by a third to a half.
It Has Health Benefits
When used over high heat, Teflon-coated pans have been shown to emit fumes that are dangerous to small birds. So even if you're lucky enough to have a non-stick pan that won't warp over high heat, it may release fumes that could be toxic to your family. Cast iron doesn't give off any fumes and it imparts iron into the food cooked in it, even after it is seasoned. If you tend to be anemic, you may be able to reduce your supplement intake by cooking most of your dishes in cast iron. Be sure to follow your doctor's orders and get tested before changing your prescribed health plan.