This article was last updated on October 15th, 2020
If you are new to the world of cast iron cookware and cooking. You would have heard all the horror stories that people have experienced when “trying” to cook with cast iron.
So you want to know is a cast iron pan worth it?
Cast iron cookware is worth using in the form of pans, griddles, skillets, Dutch ovens, and other shapes of cookware. The iron holds the heat and spreads it evenly for various types of cooking. A cast-iron pan is an unbeatable kitchen equipment piece due to its functionality, durability, and versatility.
Whether it is an affordable or more expensive piece of cookware you can make an assortment of mouth-watering appetizers, cornbread, main dishes, and even desserts in a cast iron pan.
Those are just a few of the benefits of cast iron pans and other types of cast iron cookware. Let’s take a look at some more.
5 Reasons Why a Cast Iron Pan Is Worth It?
There are many reasons why cast iron cookware is far superior to other types. These five reasons are by far the top.
1.Cast Iron Pans Are Cost-Effective
I constantly see the statement “why are cast iron pans so expensive?” Every product has various prices ranges from affordable to expensive and everything in between. Cast iron products are no different.
Most local home stores sell a good-quality skillet for around $15-20. With cast iron, you can elevate the taste of your home-cooked meal from ordinary to extraordinary without burning a hole in your pocket.
Cast iron cookware is pocket-friendly and distributes and maintains heat evenly, just like the most expensive, high-end piece of cookware.
2. Cast Iron Pans Are Tough
Iron casters make cast iron pans and pots to last a lifetime. You will find 75-year old cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens in antique stores and yard sales.
They are so durable that they are nearly indestructible, and it is difficult to ruin them completely.
Many brand new cast iron pans are pre-seasoned, and one can start using them to make crispy potato hash for breakfast right away.
Another advantage of pre-seasoning is that you can store your cast iron pans directly stacked on top of the other. If the seasoning is a nice, even layer, it will help avoid chipping, unlike a non-stick frypan.
3. Cast Iron Pans Are Non-Stick
What makes cast iron pans non-stick? It is the seasoning process. Which is a thin layer of polymerized oil coating applied to the inside of your cast iron pan.
A correctly seasoned cast iron pan is rubbed with oil and repeatedly heated. It allows the oil to break down into a plastic-like substance that bonds to the metal surface.
It gives your well-seasoned cast iron pan its non-stick characteristics. The seasoning is resilient and chemically bonded to the metal so you can freely use metal spoons and spatulas, and it won’t chip.
Well seasoned cast iron pan equals non-stick.
Make sure to keep your cast iron cookware nicely seasoned and pre-heat it before starting to cook, and food shall slide right back out without sticking.
4. Cast Iron’s Heat Tolerance
The advantage of cast iron is that once you warm it, it remains hot. This property of cast iron pans is known as high volumetric heat capacity. This characteristic is fundamental when you want to sear meat.
Cast iron’s thermal conductivity is low. To heat it evenly, one must place it over a burner and preheat it for 10 minutes, rotating it halfway through. Or you can put it in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes before using it.
Another excellent quality is its high emissivity or the tendency to radiate heat energy from its surface. It has a 0.64 emissivity rating.
When you are cooking in it, the outside of the food is getting the heat and the cooking surface in contact with the heat. This feature makes cast iron perfect for pan roasting vegetables and chicken.
5. Old Is Gold
The vintage Wagner and Griswold pans of the early 20th century are priceless possessions. In the past, iron casters made cast iron pans by using sand molds.
Upon completion, they broke the mold and polished the cookware until smooth. Vintage cast iron cookware has a smooth finish. In the 1950s, the manufacturers streamlined cast iron manufacturing, and they omitted the final polishing step from the process.
As a result, modern-day cast iron cookware has a bumpy and pebbly surface. It is a minor difference. Although the material is the same, the method of production has changed over time.
If your cast iron pan is perfectly seasoned, both vintage and modern-day cast iron will have a non-stick surface, but the vintage stuff will always be superior.
‘The best way to make a steak is grilled over an open flame or pan sautéed in a cast-iron skillet.’
Maintenance and Care Of Cast Iron Pans
To keep your cast iron workhorse in tip-top shape, here are a few guidelines:
Season for All the Right Reasons
Rub a little cooking oil onto it and leave it to cool off. Repeat these steps a few times and your cast iron pan is ready.
Wash After Each Use
Use the scrubby side of the sponge or a scourer to wash your cast iron pan with dish soap after each use and dry immediately. No dishwashers allowed.
Season After Every Wash
Place a cast-iron skillet over the burner on high heat. When the water dries out, add some canola oil and rub it around with a paper towel. Keep heating until smoke comes off. Let it cool.
Stop Rust on Cast Iron
Water is the enemy of your cast iron. Never soak your iron or leave it wet. Always dry your pan with a paper towel after each wash. Even a single water spot will lead to a rust spot on your cast iron.
Final Thoughts – Is a Cast Iron Pan Worth It?
Cast iron is priceless and it’s making a resurgence. It is the best time to get yourself a cast iron skillet and take your cooking to the next level.
The best part is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get your hands on this versatile and sturdy piece of cookware. Head to the nearest flea market and start looking.
You might just hit the jackpot with a vintage Griswold or at the very least a Lodge or Camp Chef.
People have also been know to pick up the cream de la cream a vintage enameled piece of Le Creuset cast iron cookware at a great price.
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