WHAT VEGETARIANS NEED TO KNOW WHILE BUYING CAST IRON COOKWARE



One fine day I received a mail from a gentleman who expressed interest to guest post for me. Surprisingly, he had sent me a list of topics to choose from and I was super excited about this gesture.
While all the time I had only hosted recipe guest posts, this one was totally new to me and I felt this is an eye opener for my self, my readers and fellow food bloggers. I immediately said yes and requested him to share something more appropriate to Vegetarian cooking. He was sweet enough to consider my request and did a fabulous job. Meet my guest Sebastian Beaton, who owns Two Kitchen Junkies. Besides being a Food Connoisseur, he takes interest in researching various cookware and also shares his knowledge with people. Precisely, "Sebastian loves cooking and some of the gadgets that go with it". He has set up http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com/ in order to help others out there make the right choices when buying cookware for their homes. I would want all of you to take time to surf around his space. It is a Cookware Bible. I am so glad to host him here. Thank you again Sebastian. Over to you now....

Why would you be using cast iron to cook your food ?
For those of you thinking about adding cast iron cookware to your collection there are a few things that you should be thinking about before you buy. Cast iron requires work to use it and maintain it. It is not as easy to use as say nonstick cookware to use , but those that make the change often become life long enthusiasts. I will try to  give you a balanced view about cast iron so that you can make a choice that will best suit you.  

Preparing your cast iron for cooking 
There is one thing that you should know off the bat, cast iron requires a fair amount of attention, unless you have opted for something that has a ceramic or enamel coating you would have bought something that is bare cast iron. Cast iron will rust very quickly if not seasoned properly. While this article is not about that it is important that you get this right in the beginning as this will set you up for the rest of the life of what you have bought. I personally prefer to have bare cast iron as it is far more robust then anything else that you will have in the kitchen. In fact if looked after properly it is quite possible that your children will be inheriting your these items when you move on.

you will need to make sure that you season then regularly and that when you store them they are properly dry so that the don't sit with water. If you would like to find out about the seasoning process you can find out more about it here ( www.thekitchn.com/how-to-season-a-cast-iron-skillet-cleaning-lessons-from-the-kitchn-107614)

Pre-seasoned or seasoning yourself: What is better?
While you may be tempted to buy skillet or pan that is pre-seasoned it would be a much wiser option to do this yourself as this  will ensure that you do it properly. Getting this right will meant that you will effectively have a nonstick surface to cook on. It is not the same as the nonstick you are thinking of but it is still nonstick. There is a lot of resources on line that will help you do this properly

What are the health benefits of cooking with cast iron ?
You  can cook with less oil as a seasoned skillet or pan will be more nonstick. For those that are looking something that you can cook with and use less oils etc and is far more robust then the Teflon and Ceramic options then cast iron is a serious contender. 

Cast iron is seen as a chemical free option, by many, for their cooking  (read  http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com/ultimate-guide-to-healthy-cookware/). Some of the modern cookware is known to have potential health issues associated with them from some of the chemical that they have used in the . You should be looking to make sure that any cookware that you want to buy is suitable for what you are looking to cook. 

When you cook with cast iron you food can become fortified with iron that is leached from the pan or skillet, for most people this is a good thing. There is a lot written about this and in fact there are vegetarian foods that can help with this, but this is something that you can factor into  your diet. 

What type of cast iron cookware will best suite cooking vegetarian meals ?
Those that regularly cook with cast iron will tell you that this type of cookware is extremely versatile because it is so robust. You can cook on any surface with them including open fires if you are the camping type and you can even stick then under the grill. Because of this you can do  things like make pizza in them or quiches in them. You also don't have to worry about things like what utensils to use as you can use anything that you want to.

Depending on what you are looking to cook here are some of the different types of cookware that you might want to use. For the most part you will be looking to use a skillet for your every day vegetarian cooking. If you are like me then my pan or skillet is one of the most used items in my artillery. If you do cook meat on occasion you can even make a pretty decent steak in a skillet. 

There is the well known dutch oven that you can look at, but to be fair these are mostly for making stews etc and these are more for meat cooking then vegetables. There are some that will make bread and things like that with it, though if you are not going to be making stews out of it then it is a bit of an over kill in my opinion

For me there is one piece of cast iron cookware that every house should have and that is the skillet. They are one of most versatile and robust cookware that you can use. Everything that you need a pan for to cook you can use the  trusty skillet and if looked after will last longer then you. Because you can put this in the oven or under the grill, there is very little that you cant cook with this. Here are a few of my favorites: 
  • Making bread 
  • Making pizza 
  • Curries ( any type that you want)
  • Quiches 
  • Everything else :)
Looking after your cast iron 
There is one small thing that will need to be taken care of if you decide to use a skillet and that is the maintenance of it. As I have said before, cast iron rusts very easily and so you will need to season the pan on a regular basis so  that this does not happen.

Of course if it does get rust this is not the end of the road for your trusty skillet. With a little work and elbow grease you can clean the rust off  and then re-season it! They really do last and last. 

Other things to think about before you buy
There are a few other things that you might  want to  consider before you buy cast iron. It is very heavy, you will need to be strong enough to lift and pack away. With this in mind you will need to make sure that you have a good place to store it, where it is dry and preferably not on other pots or pans (cast iron finish and weight will scratch away any other lining on a pan that you put under it) Cast iron will work on induction cook-tops but remember that it is heavy so care should be taken so that you don't scratch or crack the glass cook-top. 

Acid foods like tomatoes will strip away the seasoning layer and so you will have to season more often if you cook foods like this. Although cast iron is very strong it is also brittle and if dropped on a hard surface can crack or shatter. Like all other cookware not all cast iron is made equal, you should always research what you're looking to buy so  that you get the best fit for what you want you can read more about some of the  skillets and pans here http://www.twokitchenjunkies.com/best-cast-iron-skillet/.

I hope that this has given you a taste for what you can do with cast iron and especially my favorite the skillet. There are quite a few brands out there so it is wise to research and see what will suite you best. you should be aware as with most other types of cookware there is a difference in the quality of cast iron that you buy. My advise? Always buy the best that you can afford even if you have to save up for a while. something that lasts so long should be given the  proper consideration.
Because people are passionate about cast iron  there is a lot of information online that will help you find something that best suite your needs.. Happy cooking !


Comments

  1. Very good information you have provided there Sowmya, I was thinking to do this myself for a long time. Switching to cast iron..

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    1. Thank you Nupur. This was an eye.opener for myself. I should thank my guest Sebastian for the post. Check out his space for more information on cookware

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    2. Well, also thank you for making it available to us. Cast iron is something my grandparents always used, but I never had anything but problems with it. I think the biggest problem was that I wasn't taking care of it properly. I'm going to give it a try again!

      Thanks Sowmya!

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  2. very useful post, thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for the great read Sebastian!

    In regards to cast iron pans becoming rusty, you're absolutely right that they can be cleaned up and re-seasoned. We had some old pans that were in a barn for years covered in rust. We ended up using a small dremel with some wire attachments to clean them up. They look as good as new :)

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad that this has worked for you Tara.

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