Cast-iron cookware seems to get a lot of paleo love. I have trouble understanding how it could really be healthy. But perhaps my concerns can be dismissed. (I would love to have a healthy non-stick option).
1) The seasoning process seems to involve oxidized, polymerized oils, unsaturated fats and high temps even preferred. Regardless of type of fat used, it seems to very much be a chemical breakdown-free radical sort of process. Exactly what we WOULDN'T want going on while cooking. So are we confident the resulting seasoning layer does not leech harmful bits into our food during normal cooking? Is anything 'bad' gone after the seasoning process or safely 'locked away' in some sense?
2) The typical process of using it seems to involve intentionally leaving oil on the pan in between uses. Won't this go bad, even saturated fats? And even what we think of as predominately saturated fats would probably be some % unsaturated, hence definitely go bad.
3) Similar to #2, wouldn't old food bits tend to be left, perhaps in very small quantities, due to limited cleaning methods. (Perhaps not an issue with thorough cleaning, but that tends to go against protecting the seasoning)
4) I've seen it mentioned that iron itself can act as a catalyst to increase fat oxidation.
5) Have also (once) seen the claim that the form of iron we would get is not the kind our body can use (and potentially harmful). No idea if there is any merit to this.
In a properly seasoned pan, the oil shouldn't ever see the raw iron surface, only polymerized cooking oils from previous uses should come into contact with food. Minimal iron should leech and the catalytic effects (if any) should be minimal.
the production of a crosslinked polymerized surface (seasoning) on cast iron is well documented; but if it truly concerns you, consider purchasing a stainless steel All-Clad pan for your cooking; when new they are polished to an almost mirror finish, which helps the food slide right out. drawback is you must use nylon/silicone/bamboo/wood cooking implements, as metal spatulas and such will cause scratches, which will impair the 'non-stick' -ness by giving the food molecules something to catch on. hope that is some kind of helpful!
I think stainless steel is superior in most situations. Stainless steel is easy to keep clean and I don't need the extra iron in my food. It heats quickly and evenly especially if you get 18/10. Also, you can't do acidic sauces or reductions in cast iron.
I do like a searing a good steak on my cast iron, though.
Don't forget to check out Jae's cast iron thread with a lot of info on how to do it. I recently bought 4 unseasoned pans of all sizes and haven't started the process but I will be digging into this pretty soon...
I just bought two cast iron pans, yet to use or season them, but plan on using bacon!!! I remember an old boyfriends greek grandmother who cookesoakot and used her cast skillet but obviously not for everything. She also prided herself in her oil mix left sitting in the pan, French fries made in this pan were to die for.
I have mostly stainless pans now 18/10, eggs seem to be the only thing you you can't do in them. I'm hoping the tiny cast pan I bought will work well for eggs.....
Have I ruined my cast iron pan? 6 Answers