Cast iron cookware, being made exclusively of metal, has excellent heat retention properties. It withstands and maintains high cooking temperatures which is ideal for searing or frying, and its excellent heat retention is good for long cooking stews or braised dishes especially those calling for meat.
little website I found describes what cooking in “the old days” was like for women.
The cookware was especially popular during the first half of the 20th Century. Lodge Manufacturing is currently the only major manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the United States, as most other suppliers use pots and pans made in Asia or Europe.
|Silicone sleeve for hot handles|
Because they are cast as a single piece of metal, including the handle, they can be used both on the stovetop as well as in the oven. But be careful, the entire pan gets hot, including the handle. This is where the use of a silicone slip-on handle cover comes in handy.
An ADA study found that cast iron cookware can leach significant amounts of dietary iron into food. While this sounds distasteful, it’s actually quite healthy. However, the amounts of iron absorbed varied greatly depending on the food, its acidity, water content, and how long it was cooked. But for this reason, anemics may benefit from this effect, while those with hemochromatosis (iron overload) should avoid using cast iron because of their condition.
Because it is a metal, cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned, which is a process by which a layer of animal fat or vegetable oil is applied and cooked into the cast iron. How to do that can be found aplenty on the internet. Basically it’s “cooking" it in a low temp oven for about an hour upside down.
Cleaning is another special consideration. It cannot be placed in a dishwasher but must be washed by hand. Ideally one also should not use soap, or if one does, then after drying re-apply a thin layer of fat or oil.
An easier way to enjoy cast iron is by purchasing enameled cast iron. It has a vitreous enamel glaze or coating which prevents rusting, eliminating the need to season the metal, and allowing for more thorough cleaning. But for that, it is considerably more costly to purchase than cast iron. I wouldn’t mind a Le Creuset Dutch oven myself, but they are typically over $200. Depends, like anything else, on how lazy you are. Cast iron cookware is quite reasonable but requires a little more hand-holding.
Either way, if you don’t already own cast iron or a fancy enameled pot or pan, and you’re looking for a pan or two, consider adding cast iron to your collection. You will find many uses for it. Cast iron will last you a lifetime, and provide you with something useful and meaningful that you can pass along to your children. Thank you, Doris and Ken.