7 Benefits of Cooking With Cast Iron
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There’s just something about cooking food in cast iron that feels so wholesome and old-timey; Like grandma (or maybe even great grandma) used to cook.
A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a must in any homestead kitchen. Bonus points if you’ve got more than one skillet, or if you have a cast iron dutch oven! But the benefits of cast iron don’t end with the old-fashioned feeling you get when you cook with it.
If you’re new to using cast iron or you’re thinking about adding or switching to cast iron cookware, here are a few of the benefits of cooking with cast iron, and why it’s absolutely worth the investment.
1. Cast iron is super affordable
I think sometimes there’s a misconception that cast iron cookware costs a lot of money because of how heavy and solid it is, and because other types of modern cookware can be pricey. But cast iron is actually quite affordable.
For example, this set of skillets from Uno Casa comes with two cast iron skillets, as well as two silicone handle covers and skillet scrapers. The set retails for just under $40 at the time of writing.
This Lodge-brand 10.25” skillet costs less than $20!
(The above links are affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here).
But it’s not just NEW cast iron that’s affordable…
Often you can find a really good deal on cast iron cookware by searching thrift stores and garage sales. Even if it’s old and a little rusty, you can restore it and re-season it, which brings me to the next benefit on our list…
2. Cast iron lasts for generations
An investment in cast iron is an investment in your family’s future, and not just their future health (which we’ll talk about in a minute).
Cast iron, by nature, is made to last. It may rust or get old and dusty, but unlike newer cookware, it’s pretty much indestructible, and can almost always be restored if it rusts.
Not only will you never have to replace it in your lifetime (short of maybe a bomb going off and damaging it), you can pass it down to your children or your grandchildren one day, and they can pass it onto theirs, and so on.
It’s sort of like a sourdough starter that way, but it doesn’t need to be fed every day, which, upon reflection, makes it more like a cast iron pan.
3. Cast iron is naturally non-stick
Unlike modern non-stick pans, cast iron doesn’t flake off little bits of carcinogenic Teflon into your food.
But lest you think that the trade-off is that everything sticks to cast iron, cast iron is actually non-stick by nature, so long as it’s seasoned correctly.
That being said, most new cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, and the more you cook with them using fats (oil, butter, lard, etc.), the more well-seasoned and non-stick they become.
4. Cast iron adds iron to your food
Cooking in cast iron doesn’t just help you to avoid harmful chemicals, it also adds iron to your food. Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen around the body and keeps cells healthy.
While the iron you get from cooking with cast iron may not be enough to combat a full-blown iron deficiency, it’s a great way to add a little more of this important nutrient into your diet every time you cook!
5. Cast iron heats and cooks evenly
Another great benefit of cooking with cast iron is that it heats evenly so there are no hot or cold spots. This means that it cooks your food evenly too, so you avoid burning or undercooking parts of your meal.
Cast iron does take a little bit longer to heat up than some of the thinner modern pans, but it retains heat really well. This makes it great for searing meats, frying foods and keeping food warm until it’s time to go back for seconds!
6. You can cook with cast iron on any surface
One of my favourite benefits of cooking with cast iron is the fact that it’s super versatile when it comes to what and how you can cook with it. It can be used on your stovetop, in your oven, over a fire or wood stove, and even on a grill or barbecue. It’s great for camping and super useful to have on hand in case of a power outage.
This versatility also makes cast iron a great choice for cooking and baking all sorts of food! From steaks and ground meats to fried foods, skillet meals, casseroles, breads and baked goods, there’s almost nothing you can’t cook in cast iron!
7. You don’t need soap!
I mentioned that cast iron is affordable to buy, and economical to keep because it’s such a long-lasting investment, but did you know that cooking with cast iron will also see you money on soap??
This is because you don’t need to use soap to clean cast iron. In fact, you shouldn’t use soap to clean cast iron as it strips away the seasoning.
Instead, just use water and a dish cloth to clean the surface, then dry it well and add a drop of fat or oil to keep it well-seasoned before storing it away.
Other benefits of cast iron
Okay, I know this is supposed to be a list of benefits of cooking with cast iron, but it also has practical benefits outside of cooking.
Since cast iron is so solid and heavy, one downside is that it can be quite heavy to lift, but the upside is that you’ll get an arm workout every time you pick up your skillet! After all, there’s a reason why it’s called “pumping iron!”
And if you’re ever the victim of a burglary, do what granny would have done… Grab your cast iron skillet and show ‘em what you’re made of!
(Obviously I’m just kidding. Please call 911 in the event of a burglary and always use cast iron at your own risk;)
Do you cook with cast iron? If so, what do you like most about it? Let me know in the comments below!
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