It all comes down to the perfect sear. That is what all home chefs are looking for. When it comes to cooking, there are two main types of materials: cast iron and stainless steel. Knowing which one to reach for makes the difference in every dish.
There is nothing like taking a bite of a perfectly seared tenderloin or crispy scalloped potatoes but to achieve that delicious pan fry, you must use the right materials. If you are browning a dish or have one with texture, the two options are cast iron cookware and stainless steel cookware.
A Google search will provide you with lengthy and detailed articles defending why stainless steel pans beat cast iron pans every time and, of course, vice versa. So, the decision on which to use can be confusing and difficult. There are diehard fans on either side of the debate.
There are many questions about both types of pans:
- Which pan conducts heat better?
- How do you wash cast iron?
- Can stainless steel cookware go in the oven?
- Do you season stainless steel pans like cast iron pans?
- Is cast iron hard to season?
The truth is, both pans work. Both pans will cook your food deliciously! We are not here to settle the debate but will provide you with info about both.
There is a lot to love about cast iron. First off, cast iron pans look cool and are rugged workhorses. Cooking with well-seasoned cast iron is definitely a satisfying experience for both the beginner and the experienced chef. Cast iron cookware is reliable, long lasting, nontoxic, and non-stick.
Cast iron skillets can be intimidating as we have all heard the warnings – “Don’t get it wet! Don’t wash with soap!” But the versatility of the pan makes it a chef’s dream, as you can sear the perfect filet mignon for dinner and then bake a giant chocolate chip cookie for dessert all with the same pan. The truth is, if you season your cast iron and keep it rust free, you will be able to cook a wide variety of flavourful and delicious foods for years to come.
Cast iron cookware has been used since the mid 600’s... you read that right! It was first used as a kettle and then around 1180 as a pot with legs to stand on the hot coals or with handles to hang over a fire. Cooking pans with legless, flat bottoms came in to use when cooking stoves became popular in the late 19th century. This was the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet that we now know today.
There is a myth that you cannot get your cast iron wet or wash it with soap, which is completely false. In a properly seasoned pan (one that has been rubbed with oil and heated repeatedly), the oil has already broken down into a plastic-like coating and has bonded to the surface of the metal. This is what gives well-seasoned cast iron pans its non-stick properties.
So, go ahead! Soap it up and scrub it! However, do not let it stay wet. Do not put it in the sink to soak. Water is a natural enemy of iron and water can lead to rust spots. Minimize the time it takes from when you start cleaning it to when you dry and re-season it. It is better for it to sit dirty on the counter than stay wet.
There is a reason why almost all restaurants and chefs cook exclusively cook with stainless steel. It distributes heat evenly, prevents food from sticking, and is easy to handle.
Most stainless steel cookware, however, is not just stainless steel. By itself, it is a poor heat conductor and it is combined with aluminum or copper which are both excellent heat-conducting materials. They are cladded to the bottom on the pot in layers, 3-ply, 5-ply or 7-ply.
You must season your stainless steel pan just like your cast iron. Using cookware that is not non-stick is a bit more tedious, but it is a healthy alternative.
Cooking with stainless steel is a breeze as the material is much lighter and doesn’t require significant muscle to use. It is non-reactive which makes the pans perfect for searing, sautéing, poaching, caramelizing, frying, and more. The pan should always be preheated over medium heat for a few minutes; they heat quickly and distribute the heat evenly.
Stainless steel skillets are also ideal for high acidic foods. It has been found that high acid foods can break down the seasoning of an improperly seasoned cast iron pan, such as tomato sauces or wine sauces. Stainless steel will not impart any flavours into your food except the flavours you add!
Maintaining stainless steel is easier as well. Some brands label their pans dishwasher safe, but hand washing is always recommended. Clean with warm soapy water and a plastic scouring pad, and make sure to dry your cookware completely before storing.
When it all comes down to it, cast iron and stainless steel are both two of the best cooking surfaces. They both have their advantages. Cast iron has proven itself by standing the test of time while stainless steel is great for everyday use due to it being significantly lighter.
The only way to make an opinion of your own is to use them both and see which you prefer. Bear Country Kitchen offers you a wide range of high quality cast iron and stainless steel cookware so you can explore for yourself all the pros and cons.
If you are looking to take your cooking to the next level, shop our online store to buy the best tools for the most affordable prices available!