Cast iron cookware is far superior to any other cookware out there. We now live in a disposable world where most things, including cookware, are just not made to last. When they get a little worn or break down one way or the other, just pitch them out and get a new one.
Cast iron pots and pans are the one exception. Cookware made from cast iron can last over 100 years if cared for properly and can be “fixed” if there is a buildup of some type of grease or if it becomes rusted.
I recently handed down to my oldest granddaughter a cast iron griddle that came with my grandmother’s new stove sometime between 1900 and 1914. I can’t pin the year down exactly, but that is over 100 years old, and it still cooks and looks as good as it did then.
Although there are probably more, here are 10 good reasons why you should be cooking with cast iron.
1. You Can Cook Anywhere
Talk about versatility! Cast iron can cook with any type of heat: on any stovetop, even the newer glass-top stoves, in the oven, on the grill, in the fireplace, and over a camp stove or campfire.
In fact, cast iron was the only cookware that the early settlers of our country used. They relied on their Dutch ovens, skillets, and griddles for cooking and even had the large cast iron wash pots that they used for doing their laundry, boiling peanuts, making cracklins and chitlins, and rendering fat which produced the lard that they used for cooking, and making soap all year round. How versatile is that?
If there is heat, cast iron can cook on it.
2. You Can Cook Any Food
Cast iron can be used to cook any kind of food. Let’s take a look at a variety of different foods and the kind of cast iron cookware that can be used to cook those foods.
|Food||Cast Iron Cookware|
|Bread, Quick: Biscuits, Cornbread||Griddle, Skillet|
|Bread, Quick: Banana Bread, Zucchini Bread||Loaf Pan, Skillet|
|Bread, Yeast||Dutch Oven, Loaf Pan|
|Casseroles||Dutch Oven, Skillet|
|Desserts: Cakes, Cobblers, Pies||Dutch Oven, Skillet|
|Dried Beans||Dutch Oven|
|Fried Foods: Chicken, Fish, Steak, etc.||Dutch Oven, Skillet|
|Grains: Grits, Rice, Other Grains, Pasta||Coated Dutch Oven|
|Gravy||Dutch Oven, Skillet|
|Jam & Jelly||Coated Dutch Oven|
|Pancakes & Waffles||Griddle, Skillet|
|Sauces||Coated Dutch Oven|
|Soups & Stews||Dutch Oven|
|Vegetables||Dutch Oven, Skillet|
To get started using cast iron and to determine just which pieces of cookware you need, take a look at the table above, find the foods that you cook most often, and then from the table, find out which pieces to get.
Related Why You Have to Cook Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet.
3. Any Cooking Method Can Be Used
Not only can you cook any kind of food over any kind of heat in cast iron, but you can cook by any method. Here are at least some of the ways you can cook in cast iron.
- Deep Fry
- Pan Fry
- Slow Cook
4. Cast Iron Cooks Evenly
Although cast iron cookware takes longer to change temperatures, once it is heated, it holds heat well and cooks evenly, so no hotspots. And it does a great job with slow cooking. Once it is preheated, it will hold the heat and continue cooking over just a very low flame.
5. Cast Iron is Easy To Clean
In many cases, such as frying an egg or making biscuits, cornbread, and other quick breads, all that is required to clean it is just a quick wipe with a paper towel or a damp cloth. And as long as the seasoning hasn’t been damaged, other messier foods such as gravies, desserts, and casseroles clean out with just warm water and a mild dish detergent.
Even stuck-on foods can be scraped off easily with an inexpensive food scraper made of plastic or other material that won’t scratch the surface and then a quick wash with warm water and mild detergent makes it good as new.
Pro Tip: The most important part of cleaning cast iron is to make sure it is dried thoroughly before storing it. After washing and drying, leaving them in the oven or on the stovetop overnight is a good way to make sure they are completely dry before putting them away.
6. Easy To Season & Re-Season
The process to season cast iron, if you happen to get a piece of cookware that is unseasoned, and to re-season, it when necessary is an easy 4-step process that isn’t complicated at all. Just follow these easy steps:
- Wash, rinse, and dry the pan thoroughly.
- Apply a thin, even coating of oil with a paper towel or soft cloth.
- Bake the pan at the oil’s smoke point for 1 hour.
- Leave the pan in the oven to cool.
For more in-depth information on this process, see check out my article called How to Season Cast Iron Skillets (So They Last Forever).
7. Food Tastes Better Made in Cast Iron
For many cast iron users, the taste of food is better when cooked in cast iron. For one thing, cooking in cast iron enhances the natural taste of the food by cooking it properly. Cast iron cooks vegetables faster and sears meat perfectly.
And for those who say cooking in cast iron leaves a metallic flavor in the food, then those pieces of cast iron cookware were not seasoned properly. If properly seasoned, the cookware has a nice thick coating of carbonized oil that protects the pan and provides a non-stick surface that cooks food perfectly.
So, if someone tells you their food tastes metallic after cooking in cast iron, very gently let them know that it is time to re-season that cast iron pan.
8. Food Is Healthy When Cooked In Cast Iron
You hear this a lot about cooking in cast iron, and how it is healthy for you because it adds iron to your diet. But, in reality, Healthline says that the amount of iron that is leaching into your food from cooking in cast iron is negligible.
So, if you are trying to treat a condition called iron deficiency anemia by cooking all your food in cast iron, you had better combine this plan of action with dietary supplements and other treatment plans prescribed by your doctor because just cooking your food in cast iron will probably not provide what you need.
9. Cast Iron is Inexpensive
Cast iron cookware has always been and still is one of the more affordable kinds of cookware. For example, a Lodge 10.25” skillet (Shown on Amazon) that can cook almost anything sells new for a surprisingly low amount of money, while your typical 10” stainless steel skillet can sell for as high as 4 or 5 times as much.
I have a set of stainless steel lifetime cookware that I’ve had for 58 years. While the stainless steel skillet still looks almost new and has held up very well over the years, my cast iron skillets cook much better. I rarely use the stainless skillet and always reach for my trusty cast iron because the cast iron cooks so much better and doesn’t stick as the stainless pan does.
I should qualify this by saying that regular cast iron is more affordable. The coated cast iron cookware can be a little more pricey, especially if you buy the name brands. I have a Le Creuset Dutch oven, which cooks everything amazingly well, that I bought for almost $500.00, but Lodge makes a comparable coated Dutch oven for much much less.
10. Cast Iron Is Virtually Indestructible
Cast iron cookware is not exactly indestructible, but it is pretty close. If your cast iron receives the care it needs, then it is certainly a lot closer to being indestructible than any other cookware. This is the only cookware that can actually last indefinitely and can be passed from generation to generation.
Cast Iron Care
Here are a few things that you can do to protect your cast iron and provide it with the care it needs to become a family heirloom.
Wash cast iron cookware by hand
Cast iron should be hand washed as soon after cooking as possible while it is still warm, and it should never be left sitting in dishwater. Don’t use the dishwasher because washing cast iron cookware in the dishwasher can cause it to rust.
Wash cast iron cookware with a mild detergent in warm water
Many times, like when cooking biscuits or cornbread, the pan can be cleaned by just wiping it out with a paper towel or damp cloth. But, if washing, only use warm water and a mild detergent. If it has food stuck to the surface of the pan that won’t come off with a sponge or gentle scrubber, using a food scraper should do the trick.
Don’t use steel wool on cast iron
Since steel wood can damage or remove the seasoning on the pan’s surface, don’t use steel wool for cleaning unless you are in the process of reasoning.
Related How to Remove Rust and Restore Cast Iron Skillets.
Dry cast iron cookware
Cast iron should be dried thoroughly right after washing and not allowed to air dry. Air drying can cause the pan to rust.
Apply a thin coating of oil
After each use, or at least on a regular basis, apply a thin coat of oil on the cast iron right after washing and drying. This oil becomes polymerized the next time it is used and adds to and improves the coat of seasoning on the pan’s surface.
Don’t store cast iron in a humid area
Be sure your cast iron is stored in an area that is not subject to high humidity. Also, don’t take a chance of putting your cast iron in an area that could come into contact with water (like under the sink).
Use cast iron often
The best thing you can do for your cast iron is to use it often because each time you cook with oil in cast iron, the oil is added to the polymerized coating on the pan.
Related Cast Iron Skillet Care | 8 Things You Must Know.
I hope this article has helped you understand how cool and useful cast iron really is. Our grandparents and great-grandparents really did know what they were doing when it came to cooking. Maybe this is why their food was/is so good?
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
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