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Old 02-16-2018, 02:00 PM
EricC EricC is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 469
Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I have a full set of stainless steel cookware to compliment my cast iron collection. Instead of going vintage SS I got modern cuisinart multiclad pro, which has three layers not just on the bottom but up the sides, the entire piece - cooking surface of 304 grade aka 18/10 SS, middle layer of aluminum for better heat conductivity, and outer layer of 430 grade aka 18/0 SS for induction stove compatibility. They're oven rated up to 550F.

I prefer the SS saucepans and stockpots over my CI saucepans. My CI DO doesn't really have a proper SS equivalent, so no conflict there. What it comes down to is when I need a skillet, do I grab CI or SS?

The answer is I grab CI unless I'm cooking something that could damage the seasoning. As far as skillets go, the SS is really only my 2nd string (sports analogy)...

Why CI over SS?

- Seasoned CI has non-stick properties, SS does not.
- CI has better volumetric heat capacity, as in once it gets hot it stays hot, less sensitive to temperature changes from adding food, etc.
- CI has much better emissivity, as in it radiates heat better. SS has very low emissivity, you're really mostly cooking through direct contact / conduction, while with CI you're cooking with both conduction and radiation of heat.
- CI is easier to clean.

So these advantages should attract one to CI over SS, and then it comes down to modern vs. vintage CI, vintage having the functional advantages of smoother cooking surfaces and lighter weight.

EDIT - re-reading the OP, I see you are comparing to steel instead of stainless steel. My experience with high carbon steel cookware is my wok. Since you do season carbon steel similar to CI, the non-stick properties and ease of cleaning advantages are negated. But the heat capacity and emissivity advantages remain. Still, yes high carbon steel cookware works well and there's no need to shun it over CI, just get both...
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