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Benefits of Cast Iron Cooking


Learn about the benefits of cast iron cooking with this easy guide on how to use cast iron cookware, including cast iron skillets and cast iron pots.

From sweet to savory and everything in-between, cast iron skillets can be truly become a powerhouse in the kitchen. Inexpensive, long-lasting, and versatile, cast iron cookware can provide the best results in cooking—foods don’t stick, and dishes tend to take on crunchy, caramelized, sautéed, and braised qualities. When properly maintained, cast iron cookware is extremely durable and versatile, making them a great investment for generations to come. In fact, my mother still has the same cast iron skillet she got as a wedding present over 60 years ago! This legendary skillet has taken on a life of its own, and I always like to think about all of the meals that skillet has seen over the years—fried zucchini, fried green tomatoes, stewed lentils, flapjacks, hashed browns, and sautéed greens, to name just a few. 

Classic Vegan Skillet Cornbread

Cast iron skillets can even help increase your daily iron intake! The benefits of cast iron cookware are plentiful, but they do require a little bit of know-how to achieve. If you aren’t familiar with cast iron cookware, chances are you’ve seen your fair share of them on the internet or at garage sales. And there are so many varieties of cast iron cookware these days. I have large cast iron skillets, small cast iron skillets, individual cast iron skillets, cast iron grill plates, and more. And now’s your chance to make the most of cooking with cast iron with my guide and top tips today. 

Get Started

One of the most important aspects of cast iron maintenance is seasoning. Seasoning refers to the act of wiping a thin layer of oil onto cast iron prior to storing it for future use. This thin layer of oil then becomes carbonized, which contributes to the non-stick properties of your cast iron. Overtime this layer of oil undergoes polymerization and molecularly bonds to cast iron, protecting it from rust. 

How to Clean Cast Iron

After the initial seasoning, (not necessary for pre-seasoned cookware) the key to maintaining cast iron lies in what you do after you finish cooking. After each use, cast iron skillets should be cleaned immediately with hot water, dried with a towel, and seasoned. Soaking cast iron in water can cause the skillet to rust and extreme temperature changes can cause produce cracks in the cookware. Rusted cast iron can be repaired, but cracked cast iron cannot.

It may sound daunting at first but after reading about these four benefits of using cast iron cookware you’ll understand why it’s worth the effort! And it’s really no work, all you do is quickly scrub out the cast iron skillet, dry it, and dab it with a bit of cooking oil and you’re good to go. I use olive oil, which is always handy in my kitchen. 

Summer Fruit Skillet Cobbler

Benefits of Cast Iron Cooking

Iron Bonus
Iron produces hemoglobin and myoglobin in your body, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to issues. There are two forms of iron: heme iron, found in animal products and non-heme iron, found in plants like beans, nuts, and produce. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for iron is 8 mg/day for men of all ages and postmenopausal women. Due to iron losses during menstruation, the RDA for premenopausal women is 18 mg/day. Research has shown that cast iron cookware can significantly increase the iron content of foods based on their acidity, moisture, and cook time, making it easier for plant-based eaters to reach their RDA for iron. Good news!

Quality of Food
Cast iron is a dense material which allows it to retain and distribute heat evenly over long periods of time. These properties are particularly useful when roasting vegetables, baking breads, and simmering stews. Foods cooked in cast iron skillets can cook evenly and, with proper seasoning, won’t stick to the skillet. More food on your plate and less food stuck to your skillet means you get to savor every bite of your meal and spend less time doing dishes, while saving on added fat too—no need to keep dumping in the oil bottle. 

Rustic Vegan Corn Potato Sausage Skillet 

Versatility Boost
Cast iron skillets are incredibly versatile. Whether you’re at home or on the campground, the possibilities are endless. Cast iron skillets can be used on the stove top, in the oven, on the grill, or placed over an open fire. They can also be used to make a wide breadth of recipes like lasagna, pot pie, cobbler, stir-fries, and mac and cheese. In just a few uses your new cast iron skillet is sure to become one of your favorite kitchen essentials. 

Longevity
Cast iron is relatively inexpensive and, when properly cared for, it can last for generations. Brand new, pre-seasoned cast iron cookware can range from $8.95-$240 depending on the size, type, and brand. There’s cast iron cookware for every budget and culinary need! The best part? Each time you use and season your cast iron, the better it gets at remaining non-stick. 

Check out some of my favorite cast iron products below and grab my link for a discount!

For cast iron skillet recipes, check out the following:

Moroccan Chickpea Freekeh Eggplant Skillet
Easy Vegetable Fajitas
Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet
Easy Vegetable Tofu Bibimbap Skillet

References:

  1. Brittin, H. C., & Nossaman, C. E. (1986). Iron content of food cooked in iron utensils. Journal of the American Dietetic Association86(7), 897–901.
  2. Hill, D. (n.d.). Thermal properties of cast iron. eHow. https://www.ehow.com/list_7651262_thermal-properties-cast-iron.html 
  3. What is cast iron seasoning? (n.d.). Lodge Cast Iron. https://www.lodgecastiron.com/cleaning-and-care/cast-iron/science-cast-iron-seasoning
  4. P. (2021, October 25). When to throw away a cast iron skillet. Sparkling Penny. https://sparklingpenny.com/when-to-throw-away-a-cast-iron-skillet/ 

 

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