What sort of pan? I doubt a properly used cast iron skillet actually leaches all that much. The iron would need to migrate through the seasoning layer, and while maybe some can it won't be enough to worry about. A cast iron stew pot, on the other hand, will probably leach quite a bit, especially when you cook acidic foods. I'm not worried about leaching of iron but if I was I'd still use cast iron skillets, grills, etc.
IMO for stock pots and the like go with cheap enamel or just use stainless steel. The reason stainless is "stainless" is that it forms a relatively inert and hard oxide layer. That's why stainless can be used to store/transport some harsh chemicals without corrosion. Unless you go insane with the scouring pads you don't have much to worry about either way.
As for ceramic, it's going to chip/scratch eventually and then you expose bare aluminum, which you probably don't want.
Just my take of course... do what works for you and all that.
Oooo okay. I also get pissed off about always trying to scrub and reseason cast iron pans. I own one, but don't use it much because it's heavy, very large and difficult to wash in my small sink, and always gets stuff stuck in it unless i use 2347843839 Tbsp of cooking fat.
I want something "all-in-one" - something i can pan fry lightly and possibly make stock in.
Everything eventually chips/scratches, but at least with something with a layer, like the "oxide layer" you mention, it ensures more protection from leaching into my food. And I'd prefer it to be more nonstick just for ease of use, but not exactly teflon.
Yeah, that's a vicious cycle.
I think cast iron only works for people who have a certain je ne sais qua about them. If you have it they are easy to use, low maintenance, and about as non-stick as anything on the market. If you don't, they're a pain. I wish I knew a way to share whatever magic there is, but I suspect the trick is actually to do less, and that's a hard habit to share.
I lack the manual dexterity to make stock in a skillet. The shallow shape lends itself to sloshing and I end up spilling everywhere. It's just not good. And of course trying to use a stock pot as a skillet is a lost cause too because the high walls trap moisture and the food is more steamed than sauteed. So I have a stock pot (actually a pressure cooker in my case, because I live alone and don't need to make huge batches of stock) and skillet, both fairly small (and therefore light and cheaper too). I actually have a whole set of cast iron but 99% of the time I use the 8 or 10 inch (not sure exactly) skillet that lives on the stove. Because the skillet stays fairly dry I don't have to re-season it, and because the stock pot is used for liquids I don't have to worry about food burning to the bottom. I will admit to sometimes pouring some table salt into the cast iron and brushing it around, but usually I just use a paper towel. It would be neat to have an all-in-one but for a klutz like me it's just not feasible.
The nice thing about stainless is that the oxide layer reforms on its own eventually. That ceramic coating isn't going to heal itself. My general experience with coated pans (including ceramic, teflon, etc) is bad in that they only seem to last a few years of regular use...but that may be acceptable.
Haha, maybe I should just be more comfortable about having a cast iron always sitting with bits of food on my stovetop xD
I do have a stainless steel stock pot, actually. I use it to boil my potatoes and to make stock. It's a good point you make about self-healing products versus ones that you have to always replace. I'll give my cast iron more of a shot, but if I'm still pissed off about it in a month, I'm just going to go buy the ceramic coated stuff from Italy >_>
Originally Posted by sakura_girl
Why are you washing cast iron? Heavy, that's called a free workout. Needing 34,717 cubic meters of cooking fat in cast iron, erm yeah you need just enough to cover the cooking surface.
I mean, what you want doesn't exist... unless you want to cook on a rock.
Extremely useful link, thanks. Will go out hunting for a good cast iron
Originally Posted by ryanmercer
If you like bits of food in your pan that's a plan. I don't, personally, but I'm strange. I prefer to clean the pan after each use, I just clean appropriately for cast iron. :-)
Originally Posted by sakura_girl
Regarding the site RM posted, I agree with everything except maybe making a big deal about surface machining vs rough surface. I have both. I have also done the "sand it smooth myself" experiment. It makes a small short-term difference, not something worth worrying about. I have old and new, machined and rough, they all work fine. Overall excellent article though.
Yeah I don't agree much with it either. I actually have a few awesome old ones but I prefer my new one that was 20 something shipped with Amazon prime, although if I just want to fry a single egg I have an old old old one that's the perfect size that I'll use.
Originally Posted by Him
The pan I leave on my stove top 99% of the time is a Lodge I got from the local sporting goods store for $15ish. After pretty much daily use for a few years I can fry eggs with just a touch of oil and they slide off the pan better than Teflon.