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Jan 7, 2008 06:26 AM

Another thing about cast iron.....

I've been using Lodge cast iron pots and pans a lot. They're cheap and easy to clean. What's the worst thing that can happen if I make a stew with wine or something else acidic in my cast iron Dutch oven? Will the taste be off? Will it be somehow unhealthy? If it's just discolored I can live with that.

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  1. You will almost certainly get a serious dose of nutritional iron - this is a good thing. Otherwise, I've never had any sort of bad effect when cooking in cast iron pots. A stew is already dark in colour so I doubt you'll notice any difference and I've not detected a significant flavour either. Go ahead - I use mine all the time for chili.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve

      >> You will almost certainly get a serious dose of nutritional iron - this is a good thing

      You can get too much iron. Excess iron is damaging to the liver. Additionally, the body has no way to get rid of excess iron aside from about 10 milligrams a day through hair and fingernails, and a bit more in pre-menopause women. If you're taking multivitamins with iron, and regularly cooking in bare cast iron, you may be at risk.

      In severe cases (i.e 1000 milligrams or one gram or more) of iron ingestion, it can be fatal... even a week later.

      And yes, the taste will be off.

      1. re: ThreeGigs

        I think you would have to consume more than the occasional meal from the cast iron pot to actually have it push you over the edge, nutritionally speaking. And the taste being "off" is a very individual matter. In a highly flavoured dish like chili or a red wine based stew I very much doubt you'd notice. I love the way cast iron holds the heat for things that should cook slowly.

        1. re: ThreeGigs

          This is somewhat alarmist, IMO. I have never heard of anyone getting ill or dying from cooking a stew in cast iron. It is not toxic like unlined copper.

          If the stew cooks for hours and the pan isn't seasoned well, you might expect a darker color or perhaps a slight change in flavor, but if the pan is seasoned, you will be in good company and you will probably be fine. Many people use cast iron exclusively. If your pan is rusty or not seasoned, it will affect the food a bit, but it is not going to hurt you unless you can figure out a way to eat the pot.

          1. re: RGC1982

            Somewhat alarmist? Three Gigs... that's just ridiculous. You show me someone who's died via cast iron chili and I'll show you $1 million.

      2. About the worst thing that's ever happened to me with my cast iron is to forget that I just took it out of a 500 degree oven and that the handle, therefore, is REALLY HOT. My stupidity...

        1 Reply
        1. re: bnemes3343

          not from experience, but from what I've read, do not let it sit long in a cast iron pan as it can cause pitting to the surface.

        2. You can definitely get an "off" taste in your stew if using an acidic base and a reactive pan like Cast Iron or Aluminum. These are always best made in something coated or non-reactive metals like Stainless Steel. You'll get a mild flavor that's not unlike how a container of old coins smells. If you have a senstive palate, it can all but ruin a dish.

          My Blog:

          1. I make chili in my cast iron skillet all the time. I also deglaze sauteed chicken with lemon juice quite frequently. So my pan doesn't have a perfect silky seasoning - the finish is a bit roughish - but when I wash the pan, I dry it over a hot burner and wipe it with more oil before I put it away. I'm fine with the non-perfect seasoning, because I love cooking in my cast iron pan.


            2 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              Does it matter if my cast iron skillet has rusted or is slightly burnt on top?

              1. re: ariellasdaddy

                If it has rusted, I would re-season it. Rust is never good with cast iron. Smooth on some veggie oil and bake at a low heat (250) for 30-40 mins.

            2. If they are seasoned well, probably nothing. I have a friend who cooks exclusively with Lodge and doesn't seem to be concerned at all about reactivity because the pans are coated so well. It may darken your sauces, so be prepared for that. But the taste will be fine and you will be getting a dose of iron, which most of us can use.