Cookware choices

Does the cookware we use affect the taste and/or quality of our food?

Undoubtedly, yes! Particularly when you think about the traditional cast iron ware. Not only does it change the taste slightly, (for the better, in my view) it also gives the food traces of actual iron – which is incredibly useful as iron is one of the most common minerals that westerners are deficient in.

iron skillet

Many people are completely unaware they are iron deficient, but if you have any of these symptoms, it is worth looking into further. Aside from the obvious anemia (looking pale of skin, lips and gums is a tell tale sign) lack of iron can also lead to fatigue, anxiety, irregular or accelerated heartbeat, headaches, sore or swollen tongue, restless leg syndrome and hair loss. If you’ve been treating any of these with something else and it’s not working, it’s time for you to look at your iron levels.

Taking iron supplements is all well and good, but as with all supplements the body does not tend to absorb them as well as when taking them naturally – in your food! Plus iron supplements have a common side effect – constipation. To think that all this could be avoided just by cooking in an iron skillet 2-3 times a week seems almost crazy, but it’s not. Maybe this is why the French and the Spanish do not tend to suffer from these things as every household has cast iron cookware. It’s just what they use.

There are other excellent reasons for using it too – evenness of heat distribution, so no “hotspots”; once it has been “primed” a few times (well oiled before use) then it becomes naturally non-stick, without all the horrible chemical coatings.

Besides cooking in cast iron for its health benefits, is there any other reason to be picky about what you cook in? I am sure your mother/grandmother has her “special” cake tin or casserole pot that she swears by, and there’ll be a good reason for that!

Lately I’ve been ending up with so many bananas at the end of the week that it’s necessitated making two loaves of banana bread. I only have one silicone pan and a whole host of other metal and glass ones, but the one shown is my preference ( of the metal options). By Cuisinart, it has handles – bonus!  It is a decent weight, not too flimsy, but not too heavy either. Also it has curved edges, so the loaf doesn’t get stuck in tight corners. Very important.

My useability preference is still the silicone, so simple, effectively non-stick, SO easy to turn out of, always a consistent result. However this seems the perfect opportunity to do a direct comparison side by side.

Both went in to the oven at exactly the same time, on the same shelf, side by side (not front and back). I love how the silicone one expands itself and the sides of the pan, making it look fit to burst right out of there. And see how cleanly it comes out of the pan. Zero effort required.

The metal pan I line with parchment as I don’t like greasing the pan, (a) I just don’t like adding more oil unnecessarily and (b) this way you are guaranteed to get it out in one piece. I think you can see from the colouring that this one has more crispy edges than the silicone one produces. Personally I like the crispy edges, but that is a personal preference.

So, I prefer the shape of the silicone pan loaf, but the crispy edges of the metal pan loaf. I guess the final test is in the tasting.

It’s a tough call, but I think I may prefer the metal loaf pan after all. Definitely not all metal pans are equal and they will all produce different results, but this particular one gives a lovely crunch edge which I love. The silicone will always be my “go to” pan for consistency and ease of use, but I do like that bit of crispness. The silicone one will produce a crispy top, but the sides and bottom will not be crispy. The metal one has a crisp edge all the way around.

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