2019-07-25 / 20:56
COMPLICATED COOKWARE PART 1
For the next few weeks, I will be posting more info on the most common and popular pots and pans materials and try to give the pros and cons to make it easier for you to make your choice. This week we will focus on iron cast and stainless steel. Maybe you will find something you didn’t know about?
IRON CAST vs STAINLESS STEEL
Nowadays we have such a versatile choice of cookware that if we don’t inform ourselves properly we might end up transforming our beautiful and tasty meals into poisonous one just with simply wrong choices. We can also damage our brand new cookware when we have no knowledge of how to look after it properly.
How do we make our decision when it comes to buying a cooking pot or a frying pan? We consider one or more of the following:
- budget – it is important to know how much we spend or what is our price range.
- cookware size – how many people we are cooking for will depend on making that choice.
- safety – some materials can be toxic when others are much safer or completely safe to use.
- ease of use – some materials are easier to clean and non-stick while cooking when others require more time to clean and season.
- durability – again it depends on the equipment, some might be cheaper but get damaged quicker and others can be very durable, even hard to destroy!
It is probably most old fashioned of all materials but practically indestructible when taken care of properly. Cast iron comes as a bare one or enamelled. The second one has one great advantage that it does not need seasoning like the first one.
• Its versatile use, you can put it in the oven, use it on the campfire or on the stove at home.
• It delivers great flavours and keeps the temperature for quite a long time.
• It is very durable it can last through a lifetime if you look after it properly.
• It offers some health benefits as it allows some amount of dietary iron to leach into food.
• It’s non-toxic, which is the most important fact.
• It can be quite a time consuming to take care of it and remember that you cannot use washing up liquid on it or any abrasive materials to clean it.
• You need to apply a coat of oil after every cleaning to replenish the seasoning.
• You need to season it every so often in order to keep its non-stick qualities.
• It can rust.
• It is quite heavy compared to some pots and pans.
• It is important to know that cast iron is not good for preparing any dishes containing tomatoes because of its acidity that interacts with pH of the pan and destroys the flavour.
Stainless steel is a material made of different elements. Steel itself is not resistant enough to make good cookware from it, it can rust and corrode easily, that is why chromium is added to it to make it stronger. The higher amount of chromium the better corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Also, nickel is added to make it more resistant to rust and corrosion particularly when it comes to acidic materials. It also gives that nice shine to the metal.
Stainless steel gets its name from the fact that it does not stain or rust like steel. It actually contains only about 10% of steel and the rest are chromium, nickel, nitrogen or titanium etc. But there are so many versions of stainless steel made with different percentage of the elements mentioned above and the quality of them depends on it.
• It’s durable, it’s probably the most durable cookware it does not scratch easily, and you can wash it with washing up liquid without any damage and use a sponge to clean it.
• It’s easy to maintain, easy to wash and dry and if it loses its shine you can easily restore it with vinegar.
• It’s non-reactive to food, especially to acidic food.
• It’s versatile; you can fry in it, steam, poach, and boil anything you want really.
• It’s a good value for money. Stainless steel is very affordable when you take into consideration its durability, it can last for many, many years.
• It’s a safe cookware option.
• It does not distribute heat that well as some cookware materials like aluminium or copper.
• It sticks so it takes some experience to learn how to cook in it and adjust the heat accordingly.
• It’s harder to clean than some other cookware.
• Some types of stainless steel are not suitable for induction hobs if they contain nickel so if you have induction hob you need to choose magnetic stainless steel cookware.
So just to summarize both cast iron and stainless steel are great choices. There are some small differences which can be quite important to some people. For instance, cast iron can be a little bit more time consuming to season it regularly unless you have purchased the enamelled version than that problem is eliminated straight away. Another difference is reactivity and it that instance again cast iron is reactive to acidic food so you cannot use it for frying tomatoes as the meal will change the taste. But on the other hand cast iron is perfect for frying omelettes where stainless steel struggles to perform without sticking.