The pandemic has been a challenging time for many families – with restrictions on movement and being confined to the home providing many with a healthy dose of modern-day cabin fever. However, there has been an upside for many people – a renewed interest in cooking. With that also comes the decisions that must be made about which cookware is truly essential. One of the items that is almost always on the kitchen wish list is a cast iron frying pan – and with good reason.
Cast iron frying pans are incredibly versatile and represent fantastic value for money, in part due to their toughness and durability. With the correct care, a cast iron pan will provide faithful service for decades and it is not unknown for cast iron cookware to be passed from generation to generation, becoming family heirlooms.
Another reason that many home chefs choose cast iron pans is the fact that in smaller homes or apartments where the ownership of an outdoor grill is not feasible a cast iron pan can allow various foods to be prepared in a way that closely mimics the outcome of a gas or wood barbecue. For instance, frying a steak using a cast iron pan provides that rich flavor and external caramelization that might otherwise only be possible on a barbecue.
That much-talked-about toughness is no exaggeration. Drop a stainless steel pan onto a hard surface and you will most likely end up with dented cookware. A cast-iron pan on the other hand will shrug off almost any abuse. It is also incredibly heat resistant. Even the highest quality stainless steel or copper pan will usually come with a manufacturer’s warning about the highest levels of heat that it can take. Non-stick pans will degrade at temperatures above 500 degrees – which is entirely possible in a modern oven. My Home Selection has a quality cast iron pan that can be used on an open fire – that’s how tough it is.
Many people also have a healthy distrust of the coatings that are used on non-stick cookware. Although the jury is still out on whether the chemicals and bonding agents used on these pans can lead to health issues, many prefer the cast iron option. Cast iron pans are non-stick if seasoned correctly. A thin coating of oil is all that is required for problem-free non-stick cooking.
There is also the value for money aspect to be considered. Cast iron pans can be purchased for under $40. This doesn’t make them a ‘cheap’ product as in shoddy. It means you are getting a whole lot of functionality for a great price. If one factors in just how long a cast iron pan can last (if cared for correctly) the return on investment becomes nothing short of spectacular.
A cast-iron pan is a tool that every home cook should have. It offers great heat distribution and can be used in the preparation of an enormous number of meals. The value for money is incredible – and there is simply something very satisfying in using cast-iron. If you don’t have one in your kitchen you may be missing out on one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you will ever own.