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Old 10-09-2019, 05:01 PM   #1
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Stainless Steel Vs. Cast Iron Pans?

I know this question has been asked and answered like a gazillion times over the internet, but every website I've looked at and every video I've seen has given me conflicting, contradicting information. I wanna try and get closer to the truth.

Some places have said that cast iron has better heat distribution than stainless steel, others have said the exact opposite. Does anyone know which it is?

What are some advantages and disadvantages of either of the materials for pans? Thanks.

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Old 10-09-2019, 05:10 PM   #2
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Actually, neither SS or CI have great heat distribution. SS heats up much faster than CI. On the flip side, CI stays hot a lot longer.

A SS tri-ply plan is better at heat distribution because the aluminum or copper between layers of SS. SS is non-reactive and you can cook anything in it.

Cast iron, when properly seasoned, is quite non-stick. Not as slippery as a Teflon pan, but pretty good.

Both pans are oven safe at most temperatures.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:15 PM   #3
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I agree with Andy....
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:16 PM   #4
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Yeah, what Andy said -- and more...

Cast iron is great for holding a very steady temperature. Aluminum is great for changing temperatures more quickly. Stainless varies by thickness.

As Andy said, a "try-ply" combination of aluminum wrapped in two layers of stainless is a good combination to sort of balance the quick and the steady. But, it is not a perfect balance.

It's really a matter of matching the tool to the job. For a long cook, like cooktop braising or a long simmer, it is hard to beat cast iron. Cast iron holds a very stable temperature. For nimble quick cooks, like making an omelet, it is hard to beat aluminum. You can adjust the cooking temperature much quicker.

Think about this... if you put a sheet of aluminum foil in the oven at 400 degrees, it will quickly heat to 400-degrees. Pull it out of the oven, and within about 30 seconds, you can probably touch it with bare hands. Try that with cast iron, and you will burn yourself -- even after several minutes. Stainless steel will fall somewhere between those two extremes.

Clear as mud?

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Old 10-09-2019, 07:44 PM   #5
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Am I the only one on the planet that doesn't like cast iron? There's something about it that turns me off. I can't stand the smell of cast iron, for one thing, and I don't like the way it makes food taste. It's almost metallic. It reminds me of blood and just the smell of blood makes me gag.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
Am I the only one on the planet that doesn't like cast iron? There's something about it that turns me off. I can't stand the smell of cast iron, for one thing, and I don't like the way it makes food taste. It's almost metallic. It reminds me of blood and just the smell of blood makes me gag.
That's something I have never heard. I've heard people complain about maintaining cast iron many times, but never that it makes food taste bad. I've not heard complaints about the smell of cast iron, either.

Most of my cast iron is LeCreuset, so it is porcelain-enamel coated. But, my antique Griswold bare cast iron works great, too.

You have to be careful with bare cast iron that your coating of fat (seasoning) doesn't get too thick, and go rancid. That is just part of the added maintenance I mentioned already.

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Old 10-09-2019, 09:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
Am I the only one on the planet that doesn't like cast iron? There's something about it that turns me off. I can't stand the smell of cast iron, for one thing, and I don't like the way it makes food taste. It's almost metallic. It reminds me of blood and just the smell of blood makes me gag.


Linda if you’re getting taste and smell issues the CI may not have been properly seasoned.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
Am I the only one on the planet that doesn't like cast iron? There's something about it that turns me off. I can't stand the smell of cast iron, for one thing, and I don't like the way it makes food taste. It's almost metallic. It reminds me of blood and just the smell of blood makes me gag.

Nope, you're not the only one Linda. I can understand most of what you said. The only cast iron I use is enamel coated for the reasons you mentioned. I love my two (no fancy expensive brand) enameled dutch ovens that I use on occasion, however the rest of my cookware is not CI. For daily use, I don't want or need to deal with the weight of it for one thing. I do have a great carbon steel skillet that does a great job at a fraction of the weight however.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:09 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
That's something I have never heard. I've heard people complain about maintaining cast iron many times, but never that it makes food taste bad. I've not heard complaints about the smell of cast iron, either.

Most of my cast iron is LeCreuset, so it is porcelain-enamel coated. But, my antique Griswold bare cast iron works great, too.

You have to be careful with bare cast iron that your coating of fat (seasoning) doesn't get too thick, and go rancid. That is just part of the added maintenance I mentioned already.

CD
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Linda if you’re getting taste and smell issues the CI may not have been properly seasoned.
I've done all of that, made sure I seasoned them properly, tried different brands... but I still can't stand the smell. It's more the smell than the taste. And it's possible because of my sensitivity issues with metallic smells that I'm getting the taste of the cast iron as well. Just can't do it.

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Nope, you're not the only one Linda. I can understand most of what you said. The only cast iron I use is enamel coated for the reasons you mentioned. I love my two (no fancy expensive brand) enameled dutch ovens that I use on occasion, however the rest of my cookware is not CI. For daily use, I don't want or need to deal with the weight of it for one thing. I do have a great carbon steel skillet that does a great job at a fraction of the weight however.
I love my enameled Dutch oven. I love the way cast iron holds the heat. But I agree with you on the weight issue, which is why the only cast iron piece I own is the Dutch oven I just mentioned. That and I'd rather use cookware that's nonstick.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:58 PM   #10
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We are going a bit off-topic. The OP was about heat distribution. Perhaps foul tasting cast iron should be a whole new thread. I think it is worthy of its own thread.

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Old 10-10-2019, 03:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
I've done all of that, made sure I seasoned them properly, tried different brands... but I still can't stand the smell. It's more the smell than the taste. And it's possible because of my sensitivity issues with metallic smells that I'm getting the taste of the cast iron as well. Just can't do it.

I love my enameled Dutch oven. I love the way cast iron holds the heat. But I agree with you on the weight issue, which is why the only cast iron piece I own is the Dutch oven I just mentioned. That and I'd rather use cookware that's nonstick.
It's most likely that you're tasting the iron in the pan, especially if there's anything acidic in your dish. Acidic ingredients can react with the iron and leach it into the food. I've tasted it before but it doesn't bother me. In fact, I consider it a nutritional benefit I do use enameled cast iron and stainless steel pans most often, but cast iron was my first set of cookware and I used it most of the time for years.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
We are going a bit off-topic. The OP was about heat distribution. Perhaps foul tasting cast iron should be a whole new thread. I think it is worthy of its own thread.

CD
The OP asked about characteristics of cast iron vs. stainless steel. Heat distribution was one example. We're still on topic.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:39 PM   #13
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Well, the OP asked "What are some advantages and disadvantages of either of the materials for pans? Thanks."

To me, the disadvantage of cast iron, in particular, is the smell (as well as the weight). I assumed it was okay to mention that.

Sorry.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
Well, the OP asked "What are some advantages and disadvantages of either of the materials for pans? Thanks."

To me, the disadvantage of cast iron, in particular, is the smell (as well as the weight). I assumed it was okay to mention that.

Sorry.
Don't apologize - the comment you made is fine and very on-topic.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
We are going a bit off-topic. The OP was about heat distribution. Perhaps foul tasting cast iron should be a whole new thread. I think it is worthy of its own thread.

CD

The way I see it, we are still on topic if we're talking about cookware.

I think we all remember a time when every single thread went so far flying off topic a thread like this would end up in la-la land.
No apology needed Linda.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:13 PM   #16
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Don't apologize - the comment you made is fine and very on-topic.
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Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
The way I see it, we are still on topic if we're talking about cookware.

I think we all remember a time when every single thread went so far flying off topic a thread like this would end up in la-la land.
No apology needed Linda.
Thanks, you two, I appreciate that. Just don't want to be a hijacker!
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:00 PM   #17
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I am in the CI camp. I have LeCreuset enamel-coated pans and CI pans. I also have SS. My trick for getting even heat-distributuion for the CI pans is that I pop them in the oven at 500 while I am prepping (about 10 minutes). I think that was a Jacques Pepin tip. I rarely use my SS pans. I absolutely hate "non-stick" teflon pans.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:29 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
I am in the CI camp. I have LeCreuset enamel-coated pans and CI pans. I also have SS. My trick for getting even heat-distributuion for the CI pans is that I pop them in the oven at 500 while I am prepping (about 10 minutes). I think that was a Jacques Pepin tip. I rarely use my SS pans. I absolutely hate "non-stick" teflon pans.
My "trick" is to heat my cast iron on the stovetop, on low heat, for 10 minutes, as recommended by Le Creuset.

Quote:
Medium or low heat will provide the best results for cooking, including frying and searing. Allow the pan to heat gradually and thoroughly for even and efficient cooking results. Once the pan is hot, almost all cooking can be continued on lower settings.

High heat temperatures should only be used for boiling water for vegetables or pasta, or for reducing the consistency of stocks or sauces. High heats should never be used to preheat a pan before lowering the heat for cooking. Cast iron retains heat so efficiently that overheating will cause food to burn or stick.
https://www.lecreuset.com/care-and-use#ci-heat
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Old 10-12-2019, 03:25 AM   #19
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SS pans , advantages:
Non-stick when used properl
Extremely durable
Corrosion resistant.
Can be combined to aluminum, or copper to improve heat disyribution.
Does not transfer metal ions to food.
Works with any heat scouce, including induction.

Disadvantages:
Fodds stick badly if pan is not used properly.
If not mated to conductive metals, has umeven heat distribution.

Cast Iron Advantages:
Once properly seasoned, practically non-stick.
Once given time to preheat, has enough thermal mass to maintain cooking temps when foods are added to pot, or pan.
Nearly indestructable.
Great for searing meats.
Great for sweating veggies.
When covered, wii cook any sauve, gravy, stews, or soups as quiclyy, or slowly as yoy want
Works in oven on stovetop, or over fire.
Works with induction.
Pan will not warp.
Pan can be hsnded down through generatios.
If pan seaoning is damaged, simply reseaso.
Can be enamled.

Disadvantages:
If not cared for properly, cast iron cookwear will rust.
Must be seasoned to prevent foods from sticking.
Uneven temperatuers, i.e. hotspots,, can be a problem with stivetop cooking.
Pan can suffer catastrophic failure if when hot, it is plunged into cold water (pan can crack, or shatter).
Takes a good bit og time to heat up, or cool down.
Can tranfer metalli. ions to foods.
Heavy.

Carbon, or Mineral steel Pans, Advantages:
Same as cast irom.
Lighter weieght than cast iron.
Will not warp
Will not shatter due to extreme temperature changes.

Disadvantges:
Pour heat conductor and so can develop hot spots on stovetop.
Must be seasoed before using.
Pan can rust if not maintained prpperly.

Aluminum:
Fast heat distribution.
Heats and cools quicly, which gives it versatility.
Once seasoned, it is neatly stick-free.
Can be purchased with non-stick coatings.
Works in oven ( depending on the habdle and/or coating), on stovetop, or over fire.
Can be anodized to make it more resistant to damage.

Disadvantahes:
Pan can warp if gotten too hot, or plumged into colf water.
Stick free cooking surface can be easily damaged.
Can not be used with an induction stove.
If uncoated, and not seasoned well, will react witj acidic. and alkalye foods.

Copper Cookwear
Advamtages:
Best heat conductor of all cookwear, and so heats evenly.
Logjtweight.
Works on stovetop, oven, or over flame.

Disadvantages:
Expensive.
Must be tinnrd to prevent reaction with foods.
Not good for high heat.
Tin coating will wear away over timr and the pan will need to be tinnrd again.
Copper Cookwear is attractine but requires sufficeint effort to maintain its beautyIt is spft and will scratch easily.

Most people dpn't realise that bare aluminum cookeear can and must be seasoned, just like its iron and steel cousins, to give optimum perfotnace
When it is sesoned properly, it will have the same nearly non-stick properties as cast iron, but with better heat distribution. If pirchasing aluminun pots and pans, look for thicker pans, as they will resist warping.

I hope this hss been helpful


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