What kind of pans do you cook with?
Do you prefer non-stick? What about a certain brand? Do you have a favorite?
Well, my favorite type of pans to cook with are actually cast iron. I know a lot of people say, “They are too heavy!”
Or, “Why would you cook with those? They are so dated!”
And yes, you’d be correct on both of those points. But cast iron also has a lot of great qualities that have convinced me to only cook with cast iron.
Reasons Why You Should Cook with Cast Iron
1. It's Healthier to Cook with Cast iron
I actually have an autoimmune disease that has caused me quite a few problems over the years. As I’ve gotten older I pay more attention to it because life becomes a little more valuable with age and wisdom, I guess.
So when I began researching my prognosis I was stunned to find all of the modern conveniences we use that can actually impact me in a negative way.
Then I found out cast iron didn’t have these impacts. I’ll discuss a few of the negative impacts of other cookware choices a little further down.
But for starters, I want to discuss the positive impact cast iron can have. When you cook with cast iron, there is a possibility that the iron from the pan will react with your food. This means that small doses of iron will be in your food.
Now, this isn’t enough to hurt you. Also, there is no real way of knowing how much iron your body will absorb.
But any added iron is usually a good thing for our bodies, especially since so many people seem to be anemic in present times.
So I feel better cooking with cast iron knowing that I’m upping my iron intake, even by just a little each time I use it.
2. You Can’t Beat the Value
You cannot beat the value of a cast iron pan. They are relatively inexpensive when you consider how many years they will last. I’ve actually told my children when they get married, I’m going to buy them a cast iron cook set because it’ll last them a lifetime.
So if you are looking for a set of cookware that will last, then you should seriously consider purchasing cast iron.
Also, you can sometimes find used cast iron. I have purchased some new and some used. If you find it used, even if it is rusted, you can toss it into a rolling fire and it will come out looking new again.
So as you can tell, to use and cook with cast iron will be something that will last you for a very long time.
3. Easy to Maintain
Next, cast iron is very easy to maintain. It requires virtually nothing, and I love how easy it makes cleaning up after a meal.
So with regular pans, you’d have to scrape them out, wash them with soap and water, or put them in a dishwasher where they take up a ton of room.
Well, when you cook with cast iron you don’t do that. Instead, you clean the scraps from the pan.
Then you put the pan under lukewarm water and scrub it with chain maille. From there you allow the pan to dry before you season it. Here is a great resource on caring for your cast iron.
Obviously, if you can toss a pan in a fire and it comes out looking new instead of like a melted marshmallow, then you can guess that the pan is pretty durable.
Well, cast iron is definitely durable. You can cook with it over an open fire. You can toss it in a fire. You can even scrub it with chain maille, and it comes out looking better than it did before.
So if you need a type of cookware that will hold out for the long haul, that will be great for cooking both indoors and out and can handle a little rough handling in the kitchen every now and again, then you may really enjoy cooking with cast iron.
Another thing I love about cooking with cast iron is that you can use one pan for a bunch of different purposes.
For example, if you use other types of cookware, you need a baking sheet for baking, a skillet for frying, and sauce pot for boiling something.
Actually, cast iron can be used for roasting, sautéing, baking, or frying. I love using cast iron whenever I want to bake steaks. I just get a solid sear on them while on the stove top, then I can toss them (in the same pan) into the oven to finish. They turn out juicy and delicious.
6. It Can Handle the Heat
A lot of other cookware products do not do well under pressure. If you put them on the stove with really high heat the pan will scorch or buckle.
But not with cast iron. The higher the heat the better the pan does.
See, cast iron has something similar to pores. Like our skin’s pores open and absorb things, so does cast iron.
So the higher the heat, the more the pours of the pan open. This means it can absorb more grease and oil from the dishes you make.
Now, this may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. This grease and oil make the pan even more non-stick which makes cooking in the pan easier.
7. Food Cooks Better
Because the pan handles the high heat so well, it actually makes your food cook better. If you were using a traditional style of cookware, and you cooked something on high heat then the food would definitely burn in some places and be undercooked in other places.
Well, with cast iron, the pan will heat evenly which means that the food won’t be scorched in certain areas.
So it allows for even cooking. I love this because you don’t have to worry about your food being burnt. Not many other types of cookware can offer you that same experience.
8. Naturally Non-Stick
As I mentioned earlier, a cast iron skillet will absorb the grease and oil from the dishes you cook to help make it non-stick.
So this means it doesn’t have to have Teflon sprayed on it to make it to where your food won’t stick. You just need to season the pans when finished cooking and allow the food you are cooking to do the rest.
But you may be wondering how to season a pan.
Well, it is actually quite simple. After you scrub down the cast iron skillet with chain maille, you will dry it.
Next, you put the pan on the stove and turn the stove on high. When you see the pan smoking you know that it is dry.
From there, you will apply a small amount of oil. You can do this by putting a small amount in the pan (carefully so you don’t burn yourself) and then wipe it out with a paper towel.
Or you can use spray oil and wipe it out with a paper towel.
Then you turn the stove back on high again until you see it smoke.
Finally, remove the skillet from the burner and let it cool. Once it is cooled, you can put it away. This will give the skillet a shiny appearance which lets you know it is well seasoned. It may take a few times for the skillet to be seasoned thoroughly.
9. Doesn’t Need Much Oil
Because of the seasoning process, you don’t have to use as much oil when cooking with cast iron.
Now, if you are going to fry something, then you’ll have to use oil for the frying. But if you are cooking bacon in a cast iron skillet, you just need to give the skillet some time to heat up.
From there, add the bacon and allow it to cook. You can do the same with scrambled eggs in a well-seasoned skillet.
However, if you ever find the food is sticking to well-seasoned skillet, then you need to make sure that the skillet was heated thoroughly.
Usually, when you add cold food to a cold skillet, the food will stick as the skillet heats up.
Cast iron has been around for many years. There is actually evidence that the Chinese were using it back around the 3rd century B.C. That is a long time ago.
But beyond its history, there is no damning evidence that suggests risk in using cast iron. There is some proof to suggest that the iron from the pan can react with your food.
However, as mentioned earlier, there is no proof to suggest that it is harmful to us or how much our bodies actually absorb in the process.
Yet, we have learned a lot about the negative impacts of using other types of cookware. We now know that aluminum pans are risky for us to use. The reason is that the aluminum will also react with our food and be absorbed into our food.
There have been studies conducted that say that aluminum can actually increase a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Though there have also been studies that have proven otherwise.
However, that risk alone is enough to make me want to steer clear of absorbing too much aluminum.
But what really sealed the deal for me with cast iron was the fact that I wanted to avoid Teflon. Teflon is used in many non-stick pans, but it can have some really nasty impacts on us. If the pan is heated too high, it can actually cause the Teflon to put off chemicals that we can breathe in and develop flu-like symptoms.
Also, Teflon is a chemical that has been tied to causing endocrine problems in a lot of women. Our endocrine system is so important, but because of chemicals like Teflon, it is causing a large hormone imbalance in women.
Now, it is said that around 6% of women at the natural age to have children are being diagnosed with PCOS (which is an endocrine condition.) This is terrible news for women all around the world and is something that should be taken seriously when considering what chemicals you are going to introduce into your body when cooking.
So take all of these things into consideration when choosing what cookware you are going to be preparing your meals in.
11. Even Heat
Finally, I touched on this a little above, but a cast iron pan is able to conduct heat evenly. Where other pans would have certain spots that get hot while others don’t get as hot, a cast iron pan is able to heat up and hold heat evenly throughout the pan.
Again, this matters so you don’t have food that is burning in one spot while not being cooked enough in another.
So as you can tell, the benefits of cooking with cast iron far outweigh how heavy they are (especially since that heaviness is what helps it be so durable and conduct heat so well.)
Plus, when there are so many benefits to cooking with cast iron, you don’t really care that they look like something that was used to cook with on the prairie. Though, in fact, they were.
But you’ll be glad to know that they have come out with an enamel cast iron. You can check it out here. They are a little trendier.