History Of Cast Iron
an alloy of iron, carbon, and other elements, cast as a soft and strong, or as a hard and brittle, iron, depending on the mixture and methods of molding.
Cast iron vessels have been used for cooking for over two thousand years, cauldrons and cooking pots were valued as kitchen items for their durability. Their ability to retain heat thus improving the quality of cooking meals. In Europe, before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the hearth or fireplace. Cast iron pots were made with handles to allow them to be hung over a fire, or with legs so that they could stand up in the fireplace.
Cast iron pots were made with handles to allow them to be hung over a fire, or with legs so that they could stand up in the fireplace. The onset of the Industrial Revolution, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet. Popular among homemakers and housekeepers during the first half of the 20th century.
Most American households had at least one cast iron cooking pan in there homes. Griswold and Wagner Ware were especially popular, Although those companies folded in the late 1950’s and the brands are now owned by the American Culinary Corporation. Lodge Manufacturing company is currently the only major manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the United States, as most other cookware suppliers use pots and pans made in Asia or Europe.
1960’s and 1970’s introduced and quickly became the item of choice in many kitchens was Teflon-coated aluminum non-stick cookware , so Cast iron fell out of favor. The durability and reliability of cast iron as a cooking tool had made its survival, and cast iron cookware is still recommended by most cooks and chefs as an essential part of any kitchen.
Cast iron is a very slow conductor of heat and forms hot spots if heated too quickly, or on an undersized burner however, it has excellent heat retention properties. The entire pan will eventually become extremely hot, including the iron handle or handles. Most bare cast iron pots and pans are cast as a single piece of metal, including the handle. To be used on both the stove top and in the oven. Many recipes call for the use of a cast iron skillet or pot, This differs from many other cooking pots, which have varying components that may be damaged by the excessive temperatures of 400 °F (204 °C) or more.
An American Dietetic Association Study found that cast iron cookware can leach significant amounts of dietary iron into food. The amounts of iron absorbed varied greatly depending on the food, its Acidity, its water content, how long it was cooked, and how old the cookware is. Leached iron into food and that can be an advantage, not a disadvantage, particularly for pre-menopausal women who often don’t get the 18 mg of iron they need daily. A study published in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that cooking in cast iron skillets added significant amounts of iron to 20 foods tested. For example, the researchers reported that the iron content of three ounces of applesauce increased from 0.35 mg to 7.3 mg and scrambled eggs increased from 1.49 mg to 4.76 mg of iron.
This extra iron can be a disadvantage for people who get an overabundance of iron in the diet. There’s plenty of iron in water content
- red meat
- dark, leafy greens
- dried apricots
- dried peaches
- sunflower seeds
- Also check out Food Sources of Iron.
- Andrew Weil MD (March 21, 2006). “Cooking with Cast-Iron?”. DrWeil.com.
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