How to Choose the Best Cast Iron Cookware Sets
We seem to associate cast iron cookware with camping. It brings back memories of pancakes and bacon over the fire pit. That cast iron skillet would make the world’s best pancakes. But did you know that cast iron cookware isn’t just for camping anymore? In this article, we will discuss the advantages of cast iron vs. traditional cookware sets and how to choose the best cast iron cookware sets. Over the last ten years, cast iron cookware has evolved way past camping.
Why use cast iron cookware?
- What makes cast iron cookware superior to all the other types of cookware? It has been called the “king” of all cookware. Why? There are many reasons but let’s see the main reasons: It is almost indestructible and can last longer than our lifetime, actually the more you use it, the better it gets.
- It is able to hold extreme heat for long periods of time without breaking down and leaking chemicals into our food, such as with aluminum and Teflon.
- It is a naturally nonstick pan when correctly seasoned, so that means cooking with less oil and less calories for you.
- The best cast iron cookware sets are less expensive than the top-selling cookware sets, so it is affordable.
- It is extremely versatile and it can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, even both. It can be used for cooking or baking from steaks, deep frying doughnuts to brownies to sautéing mushrooms. You name it and it can be made in your cast iron cookware. The options are endless!
The best thing about cast iron cookware is the skillet or pot can be used as the serving dish, as well. So less dishes to wash, that will make your husband or kids happy. We can use any type of serving spoon or spatula as it has a scratch free surface. Not like Teflon, that if you use the wrong spatula and accidently scratch it, it destroys the Teflon finish and that disgusting chemical disappears into our food, which we eat. It also conducts heat better than stainless steel, preventing burning and a charred taste in our prepared food items.
Dressed or undressed?
There are two types of cast iron cookware on the market. The “dressed” version that has beautiful colorful enamel, that comes in a variety of bright colors. The “undressed” version, often considered being the bare cast iron cookware, it is just plain black color and a more rustic appearance. Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages to each type.
The “dressed” version that has bright colorful enamel is like eye candy. It just inspires you to cook. It comes with a wonderful non-stick surface, so right from day one, when you take it out of the box, there is no need to season the cookware. It is quite a bit more expensive than the “undressed” version, so your pocket book will feel it. Even though it is non-stick, this doesn’t mean it is low maintenance. It will require some attention and special care to help keep the enamel intact. The enamel can slowly wear off and be scratched by metallic or sharp cooking utensils, causing the enamel to break off and making our cast iron cookware unusable. Make sure you buy an enameled brand that has a good reputation and doesn’t shed its enamel.
The “undressed” version is just in one color, midnight black. So it’s not as inspiring as its enameled version. It comes with a very low price tag, which will make it possible to go out and buy some great steaks with, to cook up on that new cast iron skillet and even a good bottle of wine, with the savings. Also, the more you use it the stronger it gets and non-stick quality develops by use. It is almost impossible to destroy bare cast iron cookware, even if it is all rusty and old, it can be repaired by a few seasoning sessions. The disadvantage is that is a higher maintenance that it’s counterpart. It will need to seasoned correctly and special care with washing.
Basically, the best cast iron cookware sets for you, will depend on your needs and desires.
How to season your cast iron cookware?
All this talk about seasoning cast iron cookware, has probably got you wondering about how to do that? Many have likened seasoning their cast iron cookware to a friendship, it requires time and effort, but it will last a lifetime. It will be necessary to season your cast iron item, more in the beginning of your friendship than later on, as it will begin to develop a long-term nonstick finish.
We need to understand that soap is our enemy when washing our cast iron items, as it removes the fat that has been soaked up by the iron. We need to wash our cast iron items of the excess oil or fat, that could become rancid and making our food to taste funny or making us sick. We can use a small amount of mild dish soap to wash them, avoiding the stronger detergents or scrubbing it with steel wool. Never ever put our cast iron cookware in the dishwasher.
After we have washed our cast iron item with very little soap and dried it off. Place the cast iron item over high heat on the stovetop and let it get quite warm. This allows the iron’s pores to open, allowing it to be able to drink up the fat that we are about to apply. We can apply the fat, by using a paper towel that has is soaked in fat (lard, bacon fat, coconut oil, grape seed oil or any oil that has a high smoking point) and lightly wipe the cast iron pan with the fat or we can pour a tablespoon or two onto the item and swoosh it around to cover all the sides and the bottom, of the inside surface. Leave on low heat for a few minutes. Cool down and repeat a few more times. Wipe off the excess fat.
There are many ways to season your cast iron cookware; the above method is one of the easiest and most time efficient methods. It is not necessary to season your cast iron items every time we use them.
We learned all about cast iron items in this article. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start cooking, but before you do, go purchase one of the best cast iron cookware sets that is prefect for you, being bare or beautifully enameled.