Techniques for Restoring an old Cast Iron Skillet
Researchers found that cooking in an iron skillet greatly increases the iron content of many foods. Acidic foods that have a higher moisture content, such as applesauce and spaghetti sauce, absorbed the most iron. As a matter of fact, the big winners in the foods tested were these two items. For 100 grams of each (about 3 oz.), the applesauce increased in iron content from 0.35 mg. to 7.3 mg., and the spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6 mg. to 5.7 mg. of iron.
Food cooked for longer periods of time absorbed more iron than food that was heated more quickly. They also found foods prepared with a newer iron skillet absorbed more iron than those cooked in an older one. Foods that were cooked and stirred more frequently absorbed a greater amount of iron as well, probably because they came into contact with the iron more often. Hamburger, corn tortillas, cornbread, and liver with onions didn't absorb as much iron. This was probably due to the shorter cooking times, and the fact that they were either turned once or not at all, resulting in less contact with the iron.
Here are the changes the researchers found. Foods cooked at home may vary in iron absorption based on the age of the skillet used and the amount of time the foods are heated. This list can give you a general idea of the difference in dietary iron content cooking in an iron skillet can provide.
So, if you're looking to increase your dietary iron, use a new cast iron skillet. After all, the iron in cookware is no
different from the iron in our bodies — except we have much smaller amounts!
Cooking in cast iron pots can significantly increase the iron content of food, particularly foods with a high moisture content, high acidity and those cooked for a long time. For example, a serving of spaghetti sauce normally contains less than one milligram of iron, but when cooked in an iron pot, that can climb to nearly six milligrams. Whether or not this added iron is a benefit depends on your age and your health status. For most individuals the occasional use of a cast iron skillet will cause no health concerns
I have read that everything grilled or barbecued is full of carcinogens due to the fact that the food is cooked over burning coals, wood and/or gas. The carcinogens intrinsically produced in grilling are mainly free radicals that are produced whenever you heat a hydrocarbon (i.e. butter, fat, burnt-sugar, etc.) to high temperatures. This is why French fries are so unhealthy - not only are they high in fat but they are also loaded with free radicals.
I’ve also heard that Teflon pans contain carcinogens. A University of Toronto chemist has shown that Teflon coated pans release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a "likely carcinogen" and other chemicals when heated to 360 celsius.
Did you know that even black pepper contains 32 known carcinogens?
Cooking high-acid foods like tomato products or apple sauce in cast iron cook-ware is actually recommended to help increase the amount of iron in your diet.
In fact, in a classic study published in 1986 in the Journal of the American
Dietetic Association, researchers tested 20 foods cooked in new cast iron skillets. They found most foods increased in iron content
by being cooked in the iron cookware, some significantly so.