Food

How Cooking In Cast Iron Can Improve Health

15. You can bake bread in it A Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens are usually made of seasoned… Rina - August 18, 2020
Bread pan. Unsplash

15. You can bake bread in it

A Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens are usually made of seasoned cast iron; however, some Dutch ovens are instead made of cast aluminum or ceramic. Some metal varieties are enameled rather than being seasoned. The Dutch oven is essentially a large pot or kettle, usually made of cast iron, with a tight-fitting lid so the steam can’t escape.

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Dutch ovens are used for moist-cooking methods such as braising and stewing (though with the lid off, they’re also great for frying or even baking bread). A Dutch oven is a perfect vessel for baking bread that has a crispy, golden crust and tender crumb. The almost magical transformation of the dough is thanks to the searing heat and steam created in the pot while it preheats. Baking gluten-free bread has never been easier or more rewarding.

Sauteeing tomatoes in a cast iron pan. Pixabay.

16. Acidic foods

Research has shown an increased level of iron in foods cooked in cast iron cookware, especially high-acid foods that encourage the leaching of iron out of the pan, like applesauce, eggs, and tomato-based recipes. The greater the acidity of the food and the longer you cook it, the more iron is transferred. A well-seasoned skillet can withstand the acid in most foods. However, it’s a bad idea to cook tomato sauce, or any other super acidic food, in cast iron. The acid reacts with the metal and can cause some of the iron to leach out into your food.

Cast Iron grill. Shutterstock

17. You can barbecue with it

Everyone loves a good barbecue, but research has shown that grilling meats at high heat can cause carcinogens heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. That is not an insignificant amount. While many grills, particularly of the gas variety, can struggle with even cooking temperatures. Cast iron’s ability to absorb and distribute heat makes it the perfect solution. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet or griddle directly over the flame and let it heat up for ten minutes. Unless you have an absolutely pristine and well-oiled grill, cast-iron is the safer choice for grilling delicate foods that are highly prone to sticking.

Can you store food in cast iron? Shutterstock

18. Storing food cast iron

As a general rule, you want to keep your cast-iron pan very dry to preserve its seasoning and prevent rust. The acids in food left in the pan will break down the seasoning, plus storing food in the pan for prolonged periods makes it more likely to impart metallic flavor. The main reasons not to store food in cast iron are: Foods, especially acidic foods, may continue to react with the iron, developing off-flavors. Moisture encourages cast iron to rust. It is not good for maintenance of your pan’s seasoning, which is part of what makes cast iron pans so desirable for cooking.

Spinach with eggs and toast. Unsplash

19. Cooks food quickly

Cast-iron heats and cooks your food evenly, you can use it in the oven or on the stove, and, if it’s properly seasoned, it works just as well (if not better) than a cheap, non-stick skillet. It takes a while to heat up but once it is hot, it stays hot and cooks food quickly. Which is a great way to keep the nutrients intact in cooked food. One of the most common causes of cast iron pans smoking is due to heat. When cast iron pans get too hot, they start smoking, especially if there is oil in them. Cast iron pans take longer to heat up but get hotter at a lower stove temperature than other types of metal.

a large cauldron. Unsplash

20. Cast iron Cauldrons

Cast-iron cauldrons and cooking pots were valued as kitchen items for their durability and their ability to retain heat evenly, thus improving the quality of cooked food. A cauldron is generally cast Iron and used to cook over an open flame. Soups and stews and casseroles are very handy to cook, as well as anything boiled. Most experts say that this first time is the only time you should use soap in your cast iron. Once you’ve washed it, rinse it thoroughly and dry it completely. Coat your cauldron with a very thin layer of cooking oil, both on the inside and out. If your cauldron has a lid, cover that too.

Stir fry. Shutterstock

21. Stir fry

A cast-iron skillet can retain just as much heat as a wok, which makes it an ideal vessel for making stir fry. A successful stir fry is crispy, and the only way you’ll end up with rice, meat, and vegetables that are that texture is if you cook them in a pan that doesn’t lose heat when you add food to it. Using a cast-iron skillet you will need less than half the oil you would with a wok. You will only need half or even one third the oil if you’re cooking stir-fry. They can stand very high heat (most of them can be heated up to 500 degrees F, while most stir-fried dishes require 400 F heat or less). Cooking a stir-fry is a great way to lose weight without having to suffer through the typical boring, tasteless, low-fat meals. My Stir-fry meal recipes are quick and easy to prepare, delicious, and nutritious. Especially if you serve stir-fried meals with brown rice.

cast iron pan. Unsplash.

22. Cast iron cleaning

Clean cast-iron skillet after every use. Wipe the interior surface of the still-warm skillet with paper towels to remove any excess food and oil. Rinse under hot running water, scrubbing with nonmetal brush or nonabrasive scrub pad to remove any traces of food. (Use a small amount of soap if you like; rinse well.) Avoid using the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool, as these may strip the pan’s seasoning. Scrub off stuck-on bits: To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan.

Breakfast while camping. Shutterstock

23. Inside and outside

We all know cast-iron is great for cooking on the stovetop and in the oven, but your hardest-working pan is just as useful outside of the kitchen. Yes, what you’re looking at in that photo is a cast iron skillet set right on a grill. Cast iron works on the grill just like it does on your kitchen’s stovetop. Place it directly on your grill’s grates and let it get ripping hot. Cast iron pans were designed for cooking over an open fire, so it only makes sense that we should throw them on the grill from time to time too. The final reason to stick a skillet right on the coals is to turn your cast iron skillet into a smoker! Put soaked wood chips into a cast iron skillet and place them right on the charcoal. The cast iron will slowly burn the wood, making your grill an inexpensive and effective smoker.

Fried chicken. Unsplash

24. Not just about frying

A better method of frying, which uses less oil, is to use a large cast-iron skillet. The Amateur Gourmet explains:  My theory is that, because it’s cast iron, it maintains the heat better than any large vessel (like a Dutch oven) can at home. It better replicates a deep fryer at a restaurant. Since it has the ability to retain heat also lends itself to healthy cooking, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a Vermont-based registered dietitian, and nutrition coach.

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That includes water-based methods such as braising and poaching as well as quick broiling and grilling, which don’t require much oil. Once a cast-iron pan is hot, it will stay that way much more effectively than stainless steel. Just make sure to preheat it well in advance, as it tends to get hot spots if you don’t. You’ll end up consuming some extra iron when you cook with cast iron in general. Just don’t depend on your pan to fulfill all your nutritional needs.”You’re still going to need to eat leafy greens and beans and meat,” says Jennings.

Cast iron in the kitchen. Shutterstock

25.  In summary

Cast iron is great for a lot of reasons. Cast iron is cheap, it can and will last a lifetime and get better with age, and you can safely throw it into a super hot oven. All that heavy iron also means that these pans retain heat really well, so they excel in tasks like searing a thick and juicy steak.  It has good casting properties, high machinability, good wear resistance as well as good vibration damping. Cast iron can withstand greater load and has a good degree of resistance against corrosion. However, it has low tensile strength and elongation properties. Cast iron is a very dense metal, making it nearly impervious to damage and the king of holding on to heat.

Image via Shutterstock

Even heating means that meats brown better and vegetables cook faster without having to constantly manage the heat source or rotate pans in the oven. A cast-iron skillet may seem like an old-fashioned cookware choice. But this dependable object is a must in the modern kitchen. Cast iron conducts heat beautifully, seamlessly transitions from stovetop to oven and lasts for decades. Plus, cooking with cast iron can be good for your health. You can avoid nasty, hard-to-pronounce chemicals. One,y in particular, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been deemed “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/283462/how-to-clean-and-season-a-cast-iron-skillet/ https://www.thekitchn.com/5-tips-for-cooking-with-cast-iron-on-the-grill-245045 https://readyfortea.com/cast-iron-tea-kettle-vs-teapot/ https://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/IronCastIron.htm

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