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Cast Iron Skillets Basic Guide : Types, Sizes and Tips to Use

Cast iron skillet  is very important equipment for cooking in kitchen. You have to consider some main factors while buying. Here is a brief buying guide for buying cast iron skillet for your kitchen.

  • Kind of cast iron skillet
  • Skillet construction
  • Size and weight

Types of Cast iron skillet:

There are two kinds of cast iron skillets;

  • the coated or enameled kind
  • The uncoated kind

The coated kind does not require seasoning (more on that later) and it can be washed with soap. The coating material that is used on the skillet is not hard-wearing and long-lasting so it is liable to cracking and chipping. Furthermore, you cannot use an open flame or extreme heat for coated ones.

Meanwhile, the uncoated kind is not seasoned. Before using this kind of skillet, you have to season it first. The process calls for packing the pores of the iron surface of the pan with some kind of animal fat or vegetable grease. As soon as the pan has been seasoned, it will now have a smoother, non-stick surface.

However, the item cannot be washed with soap after the process since it will take away the seasoning.

For example: Vintage cast iron skillets are uncoated, but there are also some more contemporary models available that are not uncoated.

There are some of the cons of uncoated cast iron skillet. Those are:

  • There are people though who choose not to season cast iron pans due to the health benefits it provides.
  • An unseasoned pan means the iron will be able to interact with the food being cooked and this offers the nutrients.
  • The food also gets plenty of added flavors.
  • An uncoated pan cannot be washed with soap
  • It can come into contact with acidic foods.

Construction

Second thing which you should consider before buying a cast iron pan is its construction.in construction basic things are:

  • To examine the way a skillet was designed and built.
  • Consistency of handle
  • To check for lid part

Note: *They are not safe for oven and extreme heat because it can get hot to the touch.

Size and Weight

These are made up of heavy material so these pans are expected to be heavier than other pans. And if you are truly concerned with weight of a skillet you should choose smaller one.

You will also need to check out a skillet’s thickness since several cast iron models are composed of thicker cast iron material. Thicker ones are obviously heavier but one advantage of it is that it is capable of holding heat even better.

Whether you choose a coated or an uncoated cast iron skillet, a brand new one or a traditional model, what you will buy will still depend on your preferences and the cooking methods that you will practice the skillet for. Surely you will not have any problems finding one that fits your style because of the steep availability of the item today.

Read more: 10 Best Cast Iron Skillets

Cast iron skillet Tips before use:

Now you have bought a cast iron pan so here is second step how to use this pan or what are tips to handle a new pan before cooking.  Some of tips which you should follow are:

  • Wash the pan first

First step is to wash the new pan in warm, soapy water, and dry it immediately with a soft cloth or paper towel. Do not use harsh cleansers or scrubbers because they disturb its coating.

  • Season your pan before use

Cast iron skillets should be seasoned before using them. Seasoning is a process of building up a fine layer of fat to make the surface nonstick surface. But now  many of cast iron skillets come “pre-seasoned” , with built in non-stick coating.

Before use heat your pan gradually

When you heat up your pan on medium heat before use it will work best. Keep in mind that  when you heat up your pan on too high its setting and coating will damaged

  • When cooking with acidic foods be aware.

If the cast iron skillet is not thoroughly seasoned, acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and beans can be tough on it. As the acid can damage light seasoning and lead to staining so metal can damage taste of food.

  • Never let it stay wet

When you are free from cooking and you have to put it away. You should dry it after washing. Because cast iron is actually a spongy surface and prone to rust.  if you don’t dry it thoroughly after washing it, it becomes rusty and ruins the taste of food.

  • Fry and Sear in it.

The best way to keep your seasoning maintained? Just use your pan a lot! The more you fry, sear, or bake in it, the better that seasoning will become.

  • Place it carefully when you put it away

If you are placing your cast iron skillet in a cabinet with other cookware, place a sheet of paper towel or soft cloth between it and other cookware to avoid ruining the finish.

  • It should be durable or long lasting

If you your cast iron skillet should be long lasting and durable you should handle it with proper care, then it can last for decades. Many people believe that it becomes strong with age and usage.

Myths and theories related to Cast Iron Pans:

There are so many people who are following traditions. And there are a lot of myths according to various subjects. Science is developing day by day in all professions, cooking is also one of professions which is becoming very famous among people. In cooking there are a lot of types of pots and pans, there are also some myths and theories related to them. Cast iron skillet is very important category of pots and pans which is becoming famous. Following are myths about cast iron skillet:

First myth is

“Cast iron’s heat distribution even.”

Theory: Stabbing steaks and frying potatoes requires even heat distribution below surface of the pan. Cast iron is great in all these functions, like stabbing steaks,

Testing:

To see just how the pans heats up, a test was designed to give a visual evidence of the way heat traveled through the cast iron pan. For testing 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour is spread in both cast iron skillet and a traditional stainless steel skillet and heated them over moderate heat until the flour started to browned. As the flour browned in the both pans, it essentially represents that how each skillet heated up.

Upshot:

After testing now it is time to judge what has happened during testing. As the flour is browned in both pans now it has seen that either it is browned evenly or not. In stainless steel pan flour is toasted uniformly it means it has even heat distribution, while in cast iron skillet it started to burn from some parts of pan and in some parts, it has browned like flour in stain less steel pan. Heating up the pan is totally depending upon the level of heat which is used to heat it up. Basically cast iron is poor conductor so when you want to cook any food in cast iron skillet you should preheat over a burner for at least ten minutes by rotating it every once in a while. There is also an alternative of a burner. You can heat it up in oven for 20-30 minutes in oven. For recipes you can preheat the pan on stovetop at medium heat for 3 or 5 minutes. It is found to be the best  way to even distribution of heat.

Second myth is:

If a cast-iron pan gets rusted, it’s ruined

Theory:

Although, cast iron is very durable but when it rusted or changes color it means it is time to throw it away and buying new one.

Testing:

To perform a test to find out the theory is true, old cast-iron pan was bought from thrift stores. These are also available in antique shops and flea markets. But it was not in tip-top shape. The most ill-treated skillet was bought; completely faltered them of all their dirt, rust, and its seasoning was ruined by not cleaning properly or by scratching by using metal utensils.

Upshot:

It takes a lot to kill a cast-iron skillet. If your pan’s surface is damaged by its improper use using metal utensils in it while cooking. It means it is time to throw it away. At that time seasoning also gets blemished or the pan starts to rust

Next myth is:

You should never wash cast iron skillet with soap it can damage its seasoning.

Theory:

Testing:

Conduct a test to test the theory cast iron pan was washed with soap.

Upshot:

Cast iron is seasoned by heating oils or fats to a point that they form a polymer ( carbon chain molecules) that bonds mechanically to the iron surface and protects the surface from oxidation and rusting.

Next myth is:

“Never use metal utensils on your cast iron pan. It can scratch the surface of pan”

Theory: The seasoning in cast iron pans is subtle and can easily disturbed if you use metal in it. Use wood or nylon utensils.

Testing:

To test the theory, a food was cooked in a cast iron pan for conducting test and metal utensils are used while cooking.

Upshot:

The seasoning in cast iron is actually remarkably delicate and subtle it can damaged very easily.  Seasoning is actually chemically bonding to the metal. It can scrape away with a metal utensils and unless you’re actually extracting out the surface of the metal, you should be able to continue cooking in it without any issue.

Read more :  Types of Cookware and Bakeware – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

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