What You Should Know When Choosing Your Next Cookware Set
When it comes to cookware, everyone has their favorites but there is generally a hard line stand over cast iron versus Teflon cooking pans. In a lot of ways, these two seemingly different cooking apparatuses are very similar – both types of pans are great for frying or sautéing foods and can be sensitive to sharper cooking utensils. But, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.
Cast Iron Cookware: The Good and the Dirty
Cast iron cookware has some important advantages over its Teflon cousin. For one, cast iron tends to be less expensive than the better non-stick pans and can be used for a wider range of cooking. Cast iron is very durable and can go from the stove top to the oven with no problem. Even with all these advantages, it is also important to keep in mind that this type of pan has very specific care instructions.
Most cast iron pans come with a layer of “seasoning” which is baked on liquids and oils that protect the pan from rusting and give it its non-stick qualities. In order to keep this protective layer in tack, it is important to never clean a cast iron pan with soap, steel wool, or any other abrasive material. This makes cleaning this kind of pan a bit challenging and not for the faint of heart. However, many will say the effort is well worth it due to the closeness of the “grilling” flavor these pans provide.
Teflon Cookware: Non-Stick Coating is a Catch 22
Teflon cookware also has some distinct advantages when it comes to cooking and maintenance. Although they may be more expensive than cast iron pans, Teflon pans may be worth the price for their non-stick qualities. The downside of this however is that the non-stick coating has been known to flake off and may contain harmful chemicals. Because of this, it is important to inspect a Teflon pan before using it to make sure flaking is not an issue. Luckily, the non-stick coating on these pans is strong enough to be cleaned with regular soap and water or placed in the dishwasher.
While these pans present a much easier clean up, the flavor of a Teflon pan is often ridiculed by purists. The character in a cast iron pan that is known to generate that grilled flavor is often missing from food cooked on Teflon pans. While your steak will still have those fancy grill marks, the purist will more than likely be able to taste the subtle flavor differences when using Teflon over cast iron.
Cookware, just like many things in the kitchen, is all about personal choice. Depending on what type of foods need to be prepared or how long one wishes to stay in the kitchen cleaning will determine what type of cookware is best. Although cast iron is inexpensive and durable, it is also a challenge to maintain. Teflon offers easy clean-up but there are concerns about the non-stick coating coming off into food. Whichever type of cookware is chosen, make sure it fits all of your unique kitchen needs!