In the age of electronic slow cookers and fancy pots and pans, the cast iron skillet has fallen out of style. Honestly, when I first thought of cast iron skillets years ago, images of the Wild West or pioneer life popped into my head. It was old fashion. Why do I need an old-fashioned skillet in this day and age?
I bought a cast iron skillet some years ago for camping because I needed something that could withstand an open flame. I learned that it’s a great all-purpose pan that holds and distributes heat evenly. It made sense to have a cast iron skillet in my camping kit, so I bought one. All it did was sit in my pack when I didn’t use it. A few weeks ago that changed.
I don’t know why, but I had the ambition to learn how to make homemade pizza. After doing some research, I learned that a cast iron pan was the perfect vessel to cook a pizza in, and this totally makes sense. Its even heat distribution and tolerance for high heat browns the dough on the outside and cooks it perfectly on the inside.
Added research yielded even more benefits to cast iron skillets. Here are just a few highlights:
Cast iron pans are versatile
From stovetop to oven or even a campfire, a cast iron skillet can handle pretty much any heat source you throw at it. This makes it an excellent pan to make perfectly seared meats and vegetables that you can finish evenly in the oven.
I have a 12-inch and a 14-inch cast iron pan. Each one cost me about $25. Compare that to other pans, which can cost anywhere from about the same price to hundreds of dollars.
Cast iron is healthier to use
A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is slick as a skating rink, meaning you won’t need as much oil when cooking. My regular nonstick pan still requires a significant amount of oil to keep food from sticking. Yes, a nonstick pan is suppose to not need a ton of oil, but after a while the coating wears off. Unless you want half of your dinner to stay on the pan, you need to add quite a bit of oil.
Also, as a nonstick surface wears, the chemicals from it seep into your food. Eating Well notes that “The repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pots and pans contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that’s linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems….” Cast iron skillets are void of these dangerous substances.
Experts also note that preparing food in cast iron pans fortifies it with additional iron, which is good for your health – especially if you’re a woman.
They’re easy to clean
The reason I love cast iron for camping is because it doesn’t need to be washed. Simply pour on a bunch of salt, use it as an abrasive to scrub off the food particles and then wipe out with a towel. Some people suggest washing them, but if you want a slick-seasoned pan, avoid washing it with soap and water.
Cast iron almost lasts forever
Nonstick coating wears off pans. Copper corrodes or turns funky colors. Cast iron just gets darker and slicker as you use it. Generations have used cast iron skillets long before fancy nonstick pans with no problems.
I love my cast iron skillet and definitely plan to use it more often now that I know more. Next time you’re in the market for a pan, skip the expensive nonstick or steel pans and get a cast iron one. You’ll definitely get you’re monies worth.
Do you have a cast iron skillet at home? What do you use it for? Share your experience with other Zing readers!