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What Are Your Best Choices for Cast Iron Cookware?

Sep 8, 2008
I love cooking in cast iron. Some of it is the delight of using pans handed down from my grandmother. You just don't get that from Teflon pans.

But cast iron is also wonderfully nonstick when you care for it properly. It's a touch of extra work, but not so bad as some would lead you to think. A light coating of oil added to a heated pan takes care of things quite nicely.

Depending on your needs, you may find that the newer enameled cast iron pots and pans are more suited to how you use them. The enamel may come in a variety of attractive colors, and it means you won't have to season your pans or worry about rust. The enamel simplifies cleaning too.

Enamel has another advantage if you tend to cook acidic foods, such as many kinds of tomatoes. Plain cast iron reacts to acid, and you often will have to reseason after cooking acidic foods in plain cast iron. But the enamel protects the cast iron, so you can clean up as usual.

The colors are nice if you are likely to bring your pots or pans to the table for serving, or if they are ever stored where they can be seen. It's certainly a more attractive look. But enameled cast iron pans aren't for all uses.

If you're planning on cooking over a campfire, for example, stick with traditional plain cast iron. The enamel is not made to hold up against the heat of a campfire.

You also want to watch out for quality. Cast iron in general is quite affordable, but that doesn't mean that no one makes poor quality cast iron. It's supposed to be heavy. Even in the traditional, unenameled varieties, the better brands of cast iron are typically preseasoned, which saves you that initial effort.

You don't have to buy new, of course. You can find good quality cast iron pots and pans in antique stores and online auctions. The best of these will have been seasoned in part due to long use. That's one of the things I love about my grandmothers old pans, in fact. They've been used so long that they are in simply beautiful condition.

Not many products where you can say that old and used sometimes has an advantage over brand new.

What works for you is very much a personal choice. But by buying quality cast iron not only do you get pots and pans that have no question about what they're releasing into your food, you get cookware that should last for your lifetime and still be good enough to be handed down.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster started http://www.buycastironcookware.com/ after discovering the delight of cooking in cast iron. Find cast iron skillets and more at her site.
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