A pan is a kitchen essential. It’s a go-to utensil for all types of cooking activities, be it a saute, roast, shallow fry or a stir-fry. And like all other kitchenware, pans, too, come in different materials. Stainless steel and cast iron are the two most popular choices of materials for kitchen pans.
You may wonder what’s the difference between the two and which one is better suited for your use? We have populated a guide to help you make the correct choice. The five factors that you must know before making the choice are:
Where food is often tossed in a pan or stored in drawers and shelves, the weight of the pan is of essential consideration. When compared to stainless steel, cast iron pans are heavy and can strain your hand and the shelves while tossing and flipping the food or while storing it.
Like in the case of all stainless steel cookware, a stainless steel pan is light in weight which makes tossing food in it, moving it around and storing it very easy and comfortable.
A utensil qualifies to stay in your kitchen for long only if it does not add an unwanted taste or flavour to the food you cook or does not have any limitations in terms of the food that can be cooked or stored in it. With cast iron pans, acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, wine etc. cannot be cooked since the acid in such foods can damage the seasoning of the cast iron pan and, over time, add an unwanted taste to the food.
On the other hand, stainless steel pans do not add any unwanted taste or flavour to the food and do no suffer from no such food cooking restrictions.
A cast iron pan can retain the heat for longer and therefore may come across as a better option than a stainless steel pan for keeping the food hotter for longer. However, a stainless steel pan heats uniformly throughout which ensures that your food is cooked evenly irrespective of its placement on the pan or the size of the flame.
It is very important to season a cast iron pan before using it for the first time. Without seasoning, the cast iron pan cannot be used. It is equally important to retain and maintain the seasoning of the cast iron pan. Conversely, stainless steel pans come ready-to-use and do not require any seasoning.
For example, essential cooking requirements like boiling water cannot be done in a cast iron pan as it can damage the seasoning.
Cast iron pans cannot be scoured or cleaned with detergents as it would damage the seasoning of the pan. When pans are popularly used with oil or for cooking for longer periods, the inability to clean the pan thoroughly can pose to be a huge drawback. On the other hand, a stainless steel pan can be scoured and cleaned with a detergent.
While stainless steel cookware can be costlier than a cast iron cookware, the difference in prices is not significant. Further, the ease of use and maintenance associated with stainless steel cookware makes an investment in stainless steel cookware worthwhile.