Recently cast iron cook ware has been making a comeback in the home kitchen, and there are a bunch of benefits to using them. A vintage well seasoned cast iron Griswold is a thing of beauty. If you are lucky enough to find one of these diamonds in the ruff at an antique store or thrift shop, it is a great buy. of course you can buy one of these old cast iron pans cleaned and already seasoned on eBay or craigs list, but your pocket will feel the burn. Also, having to restore a vintage cast iron pan is rewarding and will teach you a lot about how to clean and maintain cast iron so that it will last generations.
It is pretty cool to have a skillet that your great grandparents, grandparents, parents, and now you have cooked many delicious meals with. Cast iron cook ware is pretty indestructible, and with simple care and maintenance they will last generations. If you are lucky enough to already have one in your family, then take good care of it, so that this heirloom can be enjoyed by all of your descendants.
A well seasoned cast iron skillet has the benefit of having a non stick surface, without any of the industrial compounds that are found on other non stick pans and cook ware. I am able to cook eggs in my cast iron skillet with some butter without having worry about scraping off remnants after I’m done. If there is any food left behind in the pan rinsing with some hot water will wash them away. You are also able to use metal utensils while cooking in cast iron without the worry of damaging a non stick surface.
Cast iron is typically thicker and heavier than most other cooking vessels, and is known for it’s excellent heat retention. Cast iron is able to store and transfer a lot of thermal energy to your food, resulting in a excellent sear on your steaks. One must keep in mind that it will take slightly longer to heat up a cast iron vessel.
A study done by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows cast iron cooking vessels can leech iron into the food being cooked. This can aid as a dietary supplement if you happen to be anemic or deficient in iron. The length of time, acidity and moisture levels in the food all effect how much iron is leeched.
In Chinese cooking the flavor a well seasoned wok imparts into the food is called ‘wok hei’, or breath of the wok. Many cast iron aficionados believe in a similar concept when using cast iron to cook their food. For example, a cast iron skillet that has been well seasoned over many years of cooking bacon, pork chops, hamburgers, steak, etc, gradually absorbs the fats and oils contained in these foods. This gives each individual pan it’s own unique flavor that it imparts on the food being cooked in it.
Finally, you might find yourself in a situation where someone has broken into your house to try and steal the dry aged rib eye you just made. If this happens to you, your cast iron skillet doubles as a great blunt object to clobber the intruder and would be thief with.