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Home technology from way back: Cast Iron

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Cast iron cookware is some seriously rugged stuff. It is likely due to its durability that we’ve been cooking on it and in it since at least 1707 when Abraham Darby patented a method for producing it thin and light enough to be handled by mere mortals without the use of any mechanical aids. From that point, oh so long ago, until today, cast iron cookware has been made in essentially the same manner.

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Cast iron pans are formed by pouring molten iron into sand molds. The iron on which we cook is actually an alloy of Iron, Carbon, and Silicon, and it melts at around 2190 degrees Fahrenheit. Its ability to handle a massive amount of heat, along with its inherent qualities of heat retention and distribution make it a natural choice for cookware.

Cast iron heats more evenly, sears more safely, and with a little care, lasts forever, unlike aluminum pans, Teflon-coated, or otherwise. Plus, if you are concerned about foods sticking to the pans in which you are cooking, fear not. Cast iron, once properly seasoned, is about as non-stick as any chemically coated cookware, and best of all, if you somehow scratch it, or accidentally soak it off by forgetting it in the sink overnight, you can always re-season it, and in no time it’ll be back to its normal non-stick self.

Ultimately, I suppose the choice of cooking implement is a personal one. That said, there has to be a reason, beyond its versatility and relatively low price, why so many people, including myself, are so passionate about cast iron being the material of choice when it comes to cookware. For me, a good cast iron pan is like a good friend, reliable, and always willing to cook me a good meal.

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