Plain ol' cast iron or enameled cast iron? That is the question! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 12-25-2008, 11:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone. I was planning to throw away our old, horrible aluminum pans and go with cast iron, but then I heard about enameled cast iron and don't know which to get. I like the idea of not having to worry about rust, but I really like the idea of having a non-stick pan without poison in it. lol Is enameled cast iron non-stick? Has anyone used both (or either)? What would you recommend?

Thanks guys!
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#2 of 18 Old 12-25-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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I have enameled cookware pots and cast iron skillets. The enamel is over steel though, not iron. And it's wonderful for not having to worry about things sticking, and for easy clean up. But enamel over cast iron would be really heavy and I'd be worried about clean up issues, in case of small chips ever.

Cast iron can be easy to care for IME if you know how, which means seasoning it properly (or buy it pre-seasoned), never submersing in water, drying quickly, etc. But it can never be put in the dishwasher and so on. Enamel over steel, for instance, can.

And for nonstick, plain cast iron is a pain, I know, especially if you are on a lowfat type diet, because you need some kind of oil or butter to cook most things in regular cast iron.

The main reason we have cast iron at all is to help with iron/anemia issues, plus it was my grandmother's set, and I prefer it for making cornbread and pancakes, etc., in. But for everyday cooking, I far prefer my enamel stuff.

SAHM to Guinevere (04/05/06) and Eowyn (02/13/09)
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#3 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 12:18 AM
 
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I have some of both.

I LOVE plain cast iron. The trick is to heat te pan up well before you add the food. For me its as close to non-stick as it gets. I do use olive oil or butter when I cook everything. ( I don't believe the low-fat hype)

There are some things that you are not supposed to cook in plain cast iron, like tomatoes. It supposedly causes some kind of reaction because of the acid...Im not exactly sure.

This is where my enameled pans come in. I use the enameled pans for bolognese sauce and stuff like that. They are not non-stick, I still use butter or olive oil.

You may want to check out Green Pans by Todd English. I don't have any - they are $$ but supposedly the first nd only NON-stick NON-toxic pan.
They look similar to enamel, but have silicone and something else in the coating to make them non-stick. Sounds pretty cool to me, and I will probably invest in a couple next time I am pan shopping.

HTH!

Mama of one with one on the way 12/10
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#4 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 02:20 AM
 
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i love my cast iron skillet. I've never used enamelware, though, except for Granny's le creuset, which I *think* is enamel coated cast iron. It's old and everything sticks.

I've never had any problems with stuff sticking to my cast iron, once I got it seasoned. I am vegetarian, and I bought a pre-seasoned skillet, but pre-seasoning is mostly a gimmick. You still need to season it. We just seasoned it by using it, though. I mostly cook stir-fried veggie dinners, tvp casserole, & scrambled eggs in it.

I had forgotten about the tomatoes, and I think I may have messed mine up because I also cook chard in balsamic vinegar in it. But from what I've read, it's virtually impossible to RUIN a cast iron skillet - I just need to decide if I want to worry about it, or just stop making my chard in it! Rust, etc can be power-sanded off, and you just have to re-season it. Mine isn't rusted, but it does have a strange spot on it - which hasn't effected how it works.

--janis

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#5 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 02:37 AM
 
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so then is there really no difference between pre-seasoned and not? I have been looking at them and was going to go with pre-seasoned. Are there particular brands to avoid?

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#6 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 02:55 AM
 
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i say cast iron! enamelware always ends up chipping. plus like pp say castiron is easy to care for and if you do manage to let it get rusty you can sand it off and reseason. well seasoned cast iron beats non-stick pans! never use soap. just hot water and salt paste if needed and dry afterwards.to reseason rub some oil-like veggie oil into it. preseasoned just means they already coated it but you will need to season furhte rto cook most things. i don't know about brands to avoid but well made ones like Lodge are worth the $ and even better are ones you find in flea markets you know the old griswold ones but they can be pricey too cause they're so great they've bcome collector status!
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#7 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 02:57 AM
 
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I'm sorry if I misled you. You can start using a pre-seasoned cast iron right away, but you obviously can't do that with an unseasoned one. But don't expect wondrous miracles from a pre-seasoned one: they will stick in the beginning, and if you're a real foodie, you probably could taste a difference once it's seasoned to your liking. If you've got the time, I'd get unseasoned. We got a Lodge brand skillet, and I'm happy with it. Good price.

--janis

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#8 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 03:26 AM
 
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oh, great! Lodge was the brand I bought my sis for christmas and was going to get a few pieces for myself to try.

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#9 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 04:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrabbit View Post
i love my cast iron skillet. I've never used enamelware, though, except for Granny's le creuset, which I *think* is enamel coated cast iron. It's old and everything sticks.
those have a lifetime guarantee, they will re-enamel it for you
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#10 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
so then is there really no difference between pre-seasoned and not? I have been looking at them and was going to go with pre-seasoned. Are there particular brands to avoid?
You have to season it for it to work well and hold up better. Pre-seasoned is MUCH easier, IME than having to initially season it on your own. Once it's been seasoned, you can continue to maintain it by using oils/butter when cooking.

I agree that pre-seasoned ones will still stick, depending on what you're cooking (try scrambling eggs with no oil/butter on even the most seasoned pan and you're talking giant mess). But as long as you use oil/butter, pre-seasoned is easier. But I'm lazy. The only new cast iron I've bought is a cornstick pan, and I definitely bought it pre-seasoned. It would have been a giant pain to season initially otherwise.

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#11 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 06:32 PM
 
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as a vegetarian I support the plain cast iron. Once enamel is over the iron you cannot get the advantage of getting the iron into your food.
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#12 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 07:24 PM
 
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yes, that, too - enamel-ware would defeat the purpose of the iron. I got cast iron to improve my diet.

Mama to 3 girls 12,8,3
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#13 of 18 Old 12-26-2008, 10:21 PM
 
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this thread has been very helpful for me, thanks!

Improving my diet with cast iron is definitely the biggest reason I want to switch... I tend to be borderline anemic at times as does my 3 yr old.

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#14 of 18 Old 12-27-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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forgive the preggo brain. I forgot to mention that "how" you use the cast iron will greatly affect how much iron is added to your food. I did a google search a few months ago, and I found some great stuff (of course, I didn't bookmark it) ...

- food that you stir will absorb more iron than food that just sits on the skillet
- old old old cast iron actually releases less iron than new! (but what I'm unclear about is whether or not it improves if you sand the pan and re-season it)
- some foods have a significant increase in iron, while some just have marginal (eggs were pretty good, but not the best)

--janis

Mama to 3 girls 12,8,3
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#15 of 18 Old 12-27-2008, 12:42 PM
 
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I have tons of plain old cast iron and love it. I guess there is a bit of a learning curve vs 'nonstick' pans, mainly in that you have to heat it up, add fat and then cook in it. But, its great stuff. I cook virtually everything in it all the time, except stuff that you have to boil water for (rice, pasta, beans, etc). Otherwise, all my sauces, all my frying, sauteing, etc is ALL done in CI. Its great stuff. I even have muffin pans, pizza pans and a CI wok. Love'm!!
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#16 of 18 Old 12-27-2008, 03:12 PM
 
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Enameled cast iron is wonderful for cooking, I think. And while you're not getting the health benefits of the added iron, it is an excellent heat conductor and cooks the food very evenly!!! So that's why I like it. I have a mix of Le Creuset and regular cast iron skillets. As far as the non-stick issue goes, I just use Full Circle olive oil spray to coat the pans and that works just fine.
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#17 of 18 Old 12-27-2008, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the info! I think I'll get cast iron. While I have everyone's attention, what kind of cookie sheets do you use? :-)
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#18 of 18 Old 12-29-2008, 01:24 AM
 
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I have an enameled castiron dutch oven, but that's cause I plan to use it for stews/soups and such. Better for acidic things.
Everything else is plain cast iron.
My MIL, however, did get me an awesome new skillet. It's the Lodge Signature Series 12" skillet. I hugged it when I opened it. Yeah... I'm a nerd.

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