My wife and I recently switched to all cast-iron cookware in our home. There are several reasons for the change, but I have truly enjoyed the switch. Cast-iron has so many benefits, which I'll list below, but as I've started using our new skillets, I've gained a new love for cooking. Cooking is something that I've always enjoyed, but now it seems like the food turns out better and tastes better. Let me explain some of the benefits of cooking with cast-iron.
Dangers of Teflon
The most popular type of pan used today is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, which is the long way of saying Teflon. Teflon is the brand name. And it's easy to see why people have flocked to these types of pans. You can cook with less oil, and you don't have to worry about things sticking to the pan. However, there has been a concern that ingesting Teflon can be hazardous to your health. This is actually a myth, and the Teflon used on pans now days truly isn't that dangerous to us as humans. Even when a pan gets old, and the Teflon begins to flake off, your body will pass the little flakes without harming you.
The only time you need to worry about Teflon being hazardous is when it is heated to extreme temperatures. Temperatures not normally used in cooking. Most studies show that when Teflon is heated to 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit, it can release hazardous chemicals into the air. If inhaled, these chemicals can be dangerous.
With all of this being said, my wife has loved cooking with our cast-iron skillets because they don't stick. If a skillet is well taken care of, and properly seasoned, it will function better than any Teflon pan out there. She even cooked spaghetti sauce recently, and was blown away at how nothing stuck to the cast-iron.
Honestly, cleaning a Teflon pan isn't all that hard, but cast-iron is extremely simple. There is no soap required. In fact, do not use soap when cleaning any of your cast-iron cookware. When I'm done cooking with my dutch oven or skillet, I simply scrub it with some water and a chain brush. That usually does the job, and then I'll just heat it up to remove the water from the metal. If things really get stuck on, camp chef has some great products to clean up cast-iron cookware. Their cast-iron cleaner does an amazing job of getting the pan back to that perfectly clean condition, and then I use a little bit of their cast-iron conditioner to bring the skillet or dutch oven back to that "like new" condition. I usually only have to use these products every 10-15 uses, but I use them anytime the cast-iron looks like they need it. If you have any questions about these products, click the links in this paragraph to read more.
I hate buying new cookware. I want things that last, and cast-iron does just that. I bought my dutch ovens over 12 years ago. I've taken really good care of them over the years, and they look as good today as the day I first seasoned them. My new skillets came preseasoned, but even using them for the last several months, they still look brand new. I am curious to see how long the rubber handle protectors last, but either way, I'm expecting the skillets to last for many years to come. If they make it longer than a year, they'll last longer than our most recent Teflon pans.
Getting Back to Our Roots
This is honestly my favorite thing about cooking with cast-iron. It takes me back to my roots, and gives me that "home" feeling. Most of us outdoors people love to use our dutch ovens, and it reminds us of when we are out camping. Almost every meal I cook now days gives me that feeling, and I love it.
I strongly encourage everyone to give cast-iron cookware a try.