Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware is a sustainable design for a number of reasons. It is a very effective and efficient tool and it is extremely durable. It can be very cheap compared with other high-quality pots and pans and looked after it will last for generations. Cast iron cookware is beautiful in its own way and is a pleasure to cook with.
The main reason cast iron is such an effective material is that it has a high emissivity. Stainless steel, for example has an emissivity of about 0.07. Even when it’s very hot, you can put your hand quite close to it and not feel any heat. Only the food directly in contact with it is heating up. Cast iron, on the other hand, has a 0.64 emissivity rating, which means that it not only cooks the food in direct contact with it but also food further away.
Cast iron does not heat up as evenly as other alternatives (copper is a more even heating) which is why you need to pre-heat cast iron for longer. However once heated cast iron retains heat much longer than other materials.
Because it is solid iron it can easily be moved from stove top into the oven. You cannot do this with other pots that have wooden or plastic handles.
Cast iron is extremely durable. It is very strong and resistant to very high heat. Cast Iron is prone to rust if it is not seasoned properly or cleaned properly but as long as it is it could last indefinitely, certainly for several generations.
Well seasoned, it is nearly as nonstick as any manufactured nonstick surface and far more non-stick than stainless steel, aluminium or copper pans. You can use metal utensils with cast iron but be careful not to gouge into the surface. You can also use soap on seasoned cast iron. But do not soak cast iron in water for any length of time. Clean the cookware quickly and dry it very thoroughly.
A seasoned pan has a stick-resistant coating created by polymerised oils. Seasoning is a process by which a layer of animal fat or vegetable oil is applied to the cast iron and heated so that it polymerises and sticks to the surface of the cookware. New cookware should be washed well in hot water with a strong detergent to remove any casting oils from the cookware’s surface. A light coat of oil is applied and the cookware is placed upside down in a medium oven (180°C) for 30 minutes. Once cooled the process can be repeated. The seasoning layer protects the cookware from rusting, provides a non-stick surface for cooking, and prevents food from interacting with the iron of the pan.