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  Cast Iron Pans vs Stainless Steel Pans

 
Many seasoned cooks consider cast iron and stainless steel cookware as the best cookware for a variety of cooking methods, and it's not an issue of stainless steel versus cast iron issue in their kitchens. Both have their place in a well-supplied kitchen and when used and cared for properly, do a fine job of cooking just about anything. These pots and pans will outlast many other types of cooking vessels, and as a rule, are affordable ways to build a collection of pots and pans for any cooking situation.

When to Use Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron pans give good to excellent results for frying and braising on the stove top, especially for food that is not acidic. Cast iron pans are also ideal for campfire cooking because they can handle very high temperatures. In fact some cast iron pans have legs on the bottom to set over coals, and there are even tripods to hang these pans over a bed of coals for outdoor cooking.



When to Use Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless steel pans are appropriate for cooking or baking anything, and they do an especially good job developing a fond when frying. A fond is the caramelization that forms on the bottom of a frying pan that adds flavor when food is browned. A fond can be the basis of a delicious gravy, and stainless steel is perfect for browning food, finishing it off in the oven or stove top, and adding subsequent liquids for gravies. Users of cast iron pans would not want to add the water because it would break down the seasoning. If gravy is on the menu, reach for the stainless steel pan to cook the food from start to finish.



Types of Pots and Pans
Stainless steel pans come in all shapes and sizes; they often have a polished exterior and a buffed interior. They are relatively lightweight and some of them have copper bottoms. Cast iron, on the other hand, are almost always thick, black and heavy. Some cast iron pans come with an enamel exterior and interior, but these are the exception.

It's rare to find cookie sheets or cake pans made from cast iron, but molds for cornbread or muffins are not uncommon. Stainless steel baking pans are easy to find and conduct heat evenly for nicely browned crusts where the bread, cookies or cakes touch the sides of the pans.

Choose the Proper Pans for the Food
Cast iron pans must be seasoned with oil to seal the inside of the pan. Achieving a good seasoning takes time, and current cast iron pans are frequently sold with the seasoning already in place. Using a cast iron pan with imperfect seasoning is a recipe for sticking food and difficult cleanup, so most cooks treat the seasoning with utmost respect and are cautious about what they cook in their cast iron pans. Most cooks would wince to see water boiled in them or tomato sauce simmered for hours in a cast iron pan.



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