Anyone who has ever had the privilege of cooking with a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or casserole dish may already know about cast iron cookware's versatile cooking capabilities. What many people don't realize is that there are a number of advantages that cast iron cookware has over other cookware materials. While there are a few aspects of cast iron cookware that many people consider to be disadvantages, the positive cooking experience cast iron can give far outweigh any negative ideas.
Advantages of Cast Iron
- Low Cost - One of the biggest advantages of cast iron cookware is the low cost compared to that of similar quality aluminum or stainless steel cookware. You can usually find a quality cast iron sauce pan or cast iron griddle for a fraction of the cost you would pay for other materials.
- Even Heating Area - Unlike stainless steel and aluminum, cast iron cookware offers an even heating area for cooking no matter what type of cooking surface you use. This is extremely advantageous when cooking over an open fire.
- Naturally Non-Stick - A well seasoned cast iron skillet or cast iron bakeware becomes naturally non-stick when properly seasoned. This natural non-stick characteristic offers another advantage over stainless steel and aluminum cookware as well. Unlike other materials, seasoned cast iron eliminates the need for using oil or butter on the cooking surface, making your foods lower in fat.
- Dietary Iron - Cast iron cookware offers a major health advantage as well. During cooking, iron from the cookware flakes off and is then consumed with the food, making cast iron a great source of iron, especially for people with anemia. What other materials can actually claim to make your food healthier?
Disadvantages of Cast Iron
- Seasoning - Many people consider the fact that you have to season cast iron every so often to be a major disadvantage because the process takes time. The advantages that you get from a properly seasoned cast iron skillet or dutch oven, however, make the seasoning process well worth the effort.
- Cast Iron Is Heavy - This is one fact that cannot be argued. Cast iron cookware is much heavier than other materials including stainless steel and aluminum. In fact, some cast iron dutch ovens and camp pots can weigh as much as 20 pounds. This weight, however, also adds to cast iron cookware's durability.
- Cast Iron Rusts - Another point that is hard to argue. If not seasoned properly, cast iron cookware will rust when exposed to moisture. Properly seasoned cast iron will not, however, and rust can be easily removed and the cast iron cookware re-seasoned without much effort. This aspect is especially useful if you find an old, rusty cast iron skillet at a yard sale or flea mall. Read more on using and caring for cast iron.
- You Can't Cook Acidic Foods - Cooking acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, will turn your food a darker color because the acid in the foods pulls iron from the cast iron skillet or sauce pan. Many people actually enjoy this because it adds iron to their diet. It is very important, however, to never leave foods, especially acidic foods, in cast iron cookware for very long.