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Home » Cast iron Pans pros and cons of an old tool that has become fashionable 2022

Cast iron Pans pros and cons of an old tool that has become fashionable 2022

Cast iron Pans pros and cons of an old tool that has become fashionable 2022

Cast iron Pans pros and cons of an old tool that has become fashionable 2022

Iron pans are cooking what vinyl records are to music: they gave up thinking there was something better, only to discover that we had already found the perfect material.

The cast-iron pans that we find on the market today are very similar to those that began to be manufactured at the end of the 19th century: indestructible pans that, to this day, are still sold (not always cheap) on the antique market. ; and not as decoration, but to continue cooking.

And it is that iron pans, if cared for correctly, improve over the years, becoming the definitive kitchen tool, in which you can do (almost) everything.

Now, we are talking about pans that are not for all audiences. It is a tool that can be frustrating when you first start using it, as it requires special care and a lot of patience, and it can be a nuisance if, from the beginning, it is not treated correctly. That is why, before launching to buy one, you should know all its pros and, above all, its cons.

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What is an iron skillet for?

Cast iron pans are the perfect tool for frying, sautéing and grilling foods. Most models also have iron handles, so they can be put in the oven, a possibility that opens up endless possibilities.

Iron pans are virtually indestructible and, if treated right, will get better with age.

Iron is a very dense material, which means that it takes time to heat up, but it reaches higher temperatures and retains them better: this is ideal, for example, for grilling meat or fish, as it gives a more crisp and uniform browning. It is also beneficial for frying, as high temperatures are better maintained, even simultaneously cooking many foods. In addition, 

it can be used on any fire: be it gas, induction or glass-ceramic.

To cook correctly with these pans, we will have to change the chip a little concerning the power of the fire. In general, if we heat the pan at maximum capacity, the final temperature will be too high for many preparations, and, as it takes time to heat up, the heat can catch us off guard. But it’s a matter of getting used to.

Another great advantage of these pans is that they are relatively cheap, especially considering that they last forever. And it is not a literary device: there are pans from the last century that continue to work even better than when they left the factory, and they will continue to do so unless you throw them into a volcano. Many models are made from a single piece of metal, with no joints or rivets to wear out. They are practically indestructible and, what is better, the more these pans are used, the more resistant the nonstick layer formed in them.

The three disadvantages of iron pans

Although iron pans are handy, they have a few disadvantages that we must weigh before purchasing one.

They require constant care.

The first, and the one that can put more people behind, is that it requires constant care to create and maintain what is known in the Anglo-Saxon world as seasoning: a layer of fat (not dirt) that allows food not to stick.

Creating this layer is not an easy thing. When we use our pan for the first time, we will have to heat oil in the fire or the oven until the surface is completely black – a process that we explain in detail in this article on cleaning and caring for iron pans – but the pan will not be genuinely nonstick Even after many uses.

DIRECT TO THE PALATE

Iron, pressure or slow cooker: advantages and disadvantages (and which one to use for each type of stew)

As J. Kenji López-Alt, renowned food journalist and staunch supporter of iron skillets, explains in Serious Eats: “When fat is heated in the presence of metal and oxygen, it polymerizes. Or, to put it more simply, it forms a solid, plastic-like substance that coats the pan. The more times the oil is reheated in a pan, the thicker this coating becomes and the better the nonstick properties of the pan.”

This layer is necessary for the pan to be handy, and it can deteriorate if we do not treat the pan well after each use, cleaning it without using abrasive scouring pads and with little soap to dry it immediately (otherwise it will rust) and cover it again with a thin layer of oil.

The good news is that if you do it wrong, you can thoroughly clean the pan and repeat the whole process, but the pan isn’t handy if you’re not careful with it after every cook.

If all this is too tedious for you, these pans are not for you.

For the iron pans to work correctly, they must be completely black.

They cannot be used on smaller fires.

Another disadvantage is that iron, although it retains heat well, is not a good conductor: if we use large pans on small fires, it will not heat properly, something that we must consider before buying anything.

It is a bit of a nuisance, especially on domestic gas stoves, which usually have a smaller heating surface, and where it is almost impossible to use the larger models.

Acidic foods cannot be cooked.

More acidic foods take on the taste and colour of iron, fouling these and, worse, leaving an unpleasant metallic taste.

Until you have good seasoning, it is better not to cook recipes such as tomato sauce or marinade, which have a high proportion of acidic foods.

In the first months, until a good layer is created, it is also not recommended to make stews that contain water, as this can be loaded, and you will have to start the whole process from the beginning. Once the layer is strong enough, these pans can be used to make, for example, rice dishes or stews.

The Le Creuset model, on the left, is charming, but it does not go below 100 euros.

what pan do I need

Once you learn how to use a cast-iron skillet correctly, you won’t want to use anything else to grill or stir fry. And the good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to buy one.

Even the models of the best brands are not particularly expensive. And there’s not much to choose from either.

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The two most reputable brands of iron pans are distributed in Spain: the American Lodge and the French De Buyer. There are also other lesser-known brands, cheaper but of poorer quality. Considering that the best models are usually around 30 euros, we recommend sticking to these two reputable houses.

Various brands, such as Le Creuset and Lodge itself, also make enamelled cast iron skillets, which are prettier but not more helpful. In the end, you’re paying twice as much for an instrument that does the same thing, so unless you want to make a lovely wedding gift, it doesn’t make much sense to spend.

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Lodge: the quintessential American skillet

The Lodge brand is the absolute leader in iron pans in the United States and wins all the product reviews on Anglo-Saxon pages.

Founded in 1896, the company continues to manufacture all of its products in the state of Tennessee. It was the only company that continued to manufacture this type of pan. At the same time, the rest of its competitors switched to Teflon and aluminium, and, today, it continues to offer perfect quality pans.

Today, their most classic pan is made in one piece and comes with a pre-seasoning treatment that supposedly saves you from the entire initial ritual of creating the layer of nonstick fat. Despite this, we recommend that you carry out the whole process from the beginning.

For the rest, you have to choose your favourite size, taking into account the burners on which you are going to use it: the price ranges from 27 euros for the smallest pan (23 cm) to 116.90 for the largest ( 38.1cm), a model that practically cannot be used in any domestic kitchen.

Lodge 26.04 cm/10.25 inches – – Round skillet in pre-seasoned cast iron

De Buyer: the most famous frying pan in France

De Buyer is the equivalent of Lodge in France: a company that started making pans in 1830 and stayed true to iron while other brands switched to new materials.

Their pans are more easily found in Spain than the Lodge ones, and, although they are made of the same material, their finish is not the same. The De Buyer pans are somewhat lighter (although they are still quite heavy), and the handle is separated from the central part, so a priori, the pan is slightly less resistant, but, in return, it does not burn. Although the material is as dense as the Lodge, the pan is slightly thinner, so it heats up faster.

The pans are coated with a layer of beeswax “to improve the natural nonstick”, but I have never known what this is for beyond marketing: its pre-curing and care must be the same. If you don’t take care of it to create a good layer of seasoning, the food will stick.

Its price is very similar to the Lodge pans. The 24 cm model, priced at 31.90 on Amazon, is perfect for most homes.

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Are cast iron pans good for you?

So, Is Cooking in Cast Iron Healthier than Cooking in Other Pans? In short: No. You’d have to be mouse-sized to see quantifiable health benefits from mineral intake exclusively with cast iron. Because mineral transfer happens at such a small scale, it’s safe to say that cast iron is not any healthier than other pans.

What should you not cook in cast iron? 4 Things You Should Never Cook in Cast Iron:

  1. Smelly foods. Garlic, peppers, some fish, stinky cheeses and more tend to leave aromatic memories with your pan that will turn up in the next couple of things you cook in it. …
  2. Eggs and other sticky things (for a while) …
  3. Delicate fish. …
  4. Acidic things—maybe.

What are cast iron pans not good for?

Cast iron pans can leach a sizeable amount of iron into your food, exceeding dietary intake in some cases. Acidic foods will contribute to much more leaching while an old, heavily-seasoned pan will leach much less iron than a newer one.

Can you ruin a cast iron pan?

Famously durable, these pans are often passed down through generations. With proper reseasoning care, years of frequent use can actually improve the pan’s “seasoning”—its natural nonstick coating. But sadly, cast iron skillets can indeed break.

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Last update on 2022-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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