Saturday, April 25, 2015

3 Hidden Facts About Your Cast Iron Pot

Cast-iron cookware are second to none when it comes to durability, safety and ease of use. Don't be so quick to trade in your cast-iron pots and pans. 

Three hidden facts that are overlooked when using cast-iron cookware are:

❶ Cast-iron cookware do not heat evenly 
In fact, the part of the pot/pan that is directly above flame or heating element develops  a hot spot. Depending on what you are cooking, this may not be an issue. For stocks and stews, the prolonged cooking-time provides enough time for the hot spot to even out and thus not hinder the final product. 
See for yourself the hot spots: Cooking Issues 
To prevent this place the cast-iron cookware evenly over a burner with moderately-low flame and allow to heat up  for 5 minutes, rotate pan/pot and heat for another 5 minutes, before starting the cooking process.

❷ Cast-iron cookware are excellent at retaining  heat
By nature, cast-iron cookware may be slow to heat up but once heated, it remains hot without a heating element for a good while. This feature is beneficial when searing meats, simmering stocks or stews, braising vegetables and baking

❸ Cooking in cast-iron cookware  increases the iron content of food
While, cast-iron cookware is a chemical-free alternative to the  PFCs (perfluorocarbons) lined non-stick pots and pans. Cooking acidic food such as tomato sauce or citrus juices in a cast-iron skillet has shown to increase the iron content of food by as much as 20 percent.  The organic acids in food causes iron molecules in the cookware to become free. The iron leaches into the food item being prepared; when consumed, this iron is absorbed and utilised by the body. Although, this increase in the iron content of food is harmless for most persons (e.g. menstruating females, pregnant women and iron based anaemia), this may pose a health issue for persons  (e.g. haemochromatosis, adult males, post-menopausal women ) who do not require excess iron in the diet. 
Options if you fall into the later:  Do not use cast-iron cookware to cook acidic foods that have a long cooking time. This not only reduces the amount of iron leached into food but it also preserves the quality of the cast-iron. Consistent exposure to acidic foods can increase the rate at which cast-iron cookware begin to rust.


Further Reading:Iron Leached Food: 2008 [Abstract],2006 [Abstract], 2003 [Abstract], 1999 [Abstract]