Return to home pageFind replacement parts, printables, help and more.Advice, information and tips on getting the most out of your cooker.Instructions for novice and beginner pressure cooker usersCooking legumes, rice, and pressure cooking time tables.Shop for pressure cookers, cookbooks and hard to find accessoriesPost a question or join a discussion on pressure cookery.Browse our frequently asked questions for answers to your problem.

 

Cast Iron

Advantages

Disadvantages

Cleaning

Properties

relatively low cost

When well seasoned it becomes black and markedly more stick-resistant

extremely heavy

rusts easily

reacts to food

very porous, must be seasoned

do not use with acidic foods

 

A little rust is no reason to pass up a bargain or throw away the pan. Just sand down to the bare metal and re-season.

, but since the seasoning coat absorbs flavors and odors, these pans are best reserved for a single category, such as fish or eggs.

A new pan should be hand washed with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly and towel dry. Then season right away.

Clean after cooking while the pan is still hot, wipe with a paper towel or cloth. Or use hot water and a stiff nylon brush. Do not use soap (detergent) or the dishwasher as they will break down the pan's seasoning. Then towel dry. If you're not going to reuse the pan for a prolonged period of time, give it a light coating of oil before storing.

Never store food in the cast iron pan as the acid in the food will breakdown the seasoning and take on a metallic flavor. 

Also see how to properly season cast iron cookware.

Cast iron cooking utensils have been with us for thousands of years, going back to ancient China. In Europe during the Middle Ages, cast iron utensils were considered so valuable that they were listed along with gold, jewels, and other riches of royalty. An iron foundry, where utensils and other cast iron products were manufactured, was one of the first industries organized in North America.

These utensils are excellent for browning, frying, stewing and baking foods. Today's cast iron utensils are made of iron alloys that give additional strength to the utensil.

To make such a utensil, molten iron is poured into a mold and allowed to harden. The result is a very porous material that requires treatment (seasoning) prior to regular use, to seal the pores and keep foodstuffs from becoming embedded in the iron.

Although cast iron takes a while to heat, the advantage is that, once heated, it will remain very hot for a long period of time; as such, foods that require high heat are best cooked in cast iron. Iron being a reactive metal, it has disadvantages in that acidic foods should not be cooked in it for any length of time.

Iron has magnetic properties which allow for its use on induction cooktops. Added benefits from cooking with cast iron are a good workout for you (they're heavy), a light workout for your wallet (they're very inexpensive), and a slightly increased bodily intake of an essential mineral.

Most North Americans don't get enough iron in their diet. If you cook a couple meals a day on iron pans, the small amount that is absorbed into the body by the food represents only about 20% of the recommended daily dosage.

Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off, especially in humid weather, because if covered, moisture can build up and cause rust. Should rust appear, the pan should be re-seasoned.