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Can you taste the metal from cookware and knives?

I have been told many times that I should not cook acidic food, like tomatoes, in a cast iron Dutch oven because the iron will dissolve faster in acidic environment, which is true. However, I have cooked many tomatoes in my Dutch Oven and I have yet to really noticed that metallic taste. Maybe I am not sensitive enough. I certainly know what metal tastes like, but I cannot taste it in my food. Can you people actually taste iron from your cast iron cookware? I assume it is real because many people wrote about it, but I cannot taste the iron. I am curious how many of us actually can taste the iron and how many cannot.

The other claim is something I seriously question. I have seen many advertisements for ceramic knives. While I agree with many of the claims, there is one seems questionable. That claim suggests that a ceramic knife does not impart metallic taste to food unlike a stainless steel or carbon steel knife. Seriously? Have any of you ever cut up your bell peppers with a stainless steel knives and later say "Hmm, I taste steel in my bell peppers tonight" Moreover, don't we usually cook our cut up food in a metal cookware anyway. So the knife cannot possibly transfer more metal taste to my food than a stainless steel saute pan. What do you think? Thanks.

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    1. The knife thing is complete bullshit. I mean cutlery is stainless steel anyway. Do you taste metal every time you put the fork in your mouth? I don't, and even if I did, using ceramic knife earlier in the cooking process changes nothing.

      Can't comment on the bare iron, don't have any.

      1. I always thought that the only problem with carbon steel (but not stainless steel) knives was that they could cause discoloration of certain vegetables. Don't know about any change in taste, though. I've also never noticed any metallic flavor in food cooked in my carbon steel or cast iron cookware.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tanuki soup

          I have a carbon steel opinel which I can taste on certain fruits - most annoyingly apples which I like to slice. It makes them taste zingy.

          1. re: tanuki soup


            But by that account, your carbon steel and cast iron cookware will discolor your vegetable more so than the carbon steel knives anyway. Your knives will only contact the vegetable for 1ms to 1s. Your cookware will contact your vegetables at high heat for between 5 minutes to 4 hours.

            As such, the carbon steel knives only make a difference for foods which do not require cooking, like a paring knife for peeling a fruit.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I think you are correct about foods that don't require cooking, CK. It seems that it is mainly websites dedicated to decorative vegetable and fruit carving that recommend against carbon steel knives.

              But another thing to consider is that carbon steel knives don't have a nice layer of seasoning on them. I wonder what food would taste like after being cooked in an unseasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan?

          2. Hi, CK - I have never tasted the metal. However, my dream last night was my DH is complaining about the metal taste and asking me what I used. I guess it is because of this post, but the good part is that I am not poisoning him:)

            3 Replies
            1. re: hobbybaker


              This may sound really stupid, but what is a DH? Does it stands for Dear Husband? By the way, are you serious that you actually had a real dream of the metal tasting thing?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yes, it is and yes, I am. But sorry, if my joke is too silly.

                1. re: hobbybaker


                  It isn't a joke if this is a real event. Did you tell you DH about your dream? You should, if you haven't. It is a very funny dream indeed.

            2. I have gotten a metalic taste when using a #1 blue carbon steel knfe on certain fruits. I smell it if using that knife to cut onions. Can't say I've tasted it because the onions usually get cooked straight away.

              1. well today i cut my apple with my stainless steel knife and it tasted bad like metal and smelt bad like metal

                2 Replies
                1. re: nolan8976

                  Thanks. Have you noticed this before or only this time?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    i have like when i chewed on a metal zipper when i was younger but never as strong as this

                2. I use stainless knives and I detect no taste on anything I cut up, raw or cooked.

                  If I use too many tomatoes in my iron skillet, the seasoning degrades. I don't detect any sort of metallic flavor.

                  Who makes this stuff up?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sueatmo

                    People who use words like "smelt", perhaps?.......

                    1. re: KSlink

                      'smelt' is correct in non-US English.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        smelt 3 (smlt)
                        va past tense and past participle of smell


                        I admit that I have detected a metallic taste imparted by old silver plated forks which had much of the silver worn off. But the taste didn't come from the food, it came directly from the fork.

                  2. So long as that cast iron is well seasoned, then no - not at all . The seasoning layer would prevent any iron from getting into your food, even acidic stuff like tomatoes. When you clean your cast iron, wipe it down with a clean paper towel. If any black/grey comes off, instead of just oil, then your seasoning needs a touch-up. Once it's properly seasoned, the paper towel will be perfectly clean after a wipe (not counting any oil).

                    I do notice that the more often that I cook up a batch of sauce (a lot of pureed onion and tomato paste, among other stuff), that my seasoning will need the occasional touch-up - but even still I can go for 2-3 months before this happens.

                    1. There would be a lot of cast-iron cookware full of pits and holes being handed down if this was true....soups, stews, casseroles -- all cooked in Grandma's cast iron with no ill effects. (not just MY Grandma -- all of us!)

                      I've also heard that it's actually *good* to cook in cast iron, because it boosts your intake of iron. Absolutely NO idea if this is true or not...it's logical, although the levels would be pretty insignificant, for the above reason!

                      Never had a metallic taste in my food from anything.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I only use stainless steel utinsils, so no taste from that. I have on a couple of occasions tasted metal when using CI. Once was new cast iron (not preseasoned) that I was just beginning to use. I made cornbread in it and could definanatly taste the metal. I threw it out and baked a couple more skillets of cornbread and threw them out (did not taste them). After that, no more metal taste. The other time was a relatively new CI skillet and I cooked spaghetti sauce and simmered it a long time. I could taste the metal. But those were the only times and I believe it was caused from not having enough seasoning layers built up. Of course with the speg. sauce, it probably had to do with the acid and leaving it in the skillet too long.

                        1. re: dixiegal

                          I've made chili in cast iron (and spaghetti sauce, and vegetable soup) -- and have never tasted metal.

                          But **properly seasoned** is, I'm pretty sure, the magic phrase.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            yes, properly seasoned (izzit linseed) forms reasonably impenetrable barrier...

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              >I've made chili in cast iron (and spaghetti sauce, and vegetable soup) -- and have never tasted metal.<

                              Do you cook it for a long time? I cautiously cooked some beef stew in my CI dutch oven, but added my tomatoes a little later in the cooking. It came out wonderful. But this dutch oven is very old and very used. So maybe I did not need to worry so much about the metal putting a taste in my stew.

                              It did, however, but a pretty good 'dent' in my seasoning and I baked on a couple more layers after. But the stew was the best ever. So much better than in the slow cooker or ss pot.

                              1. re: dixiegal

                                as long as I cooked it in any other container.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  >I've made chili in cast iron (and spaghetti sauce, and vegetable soup) -- and have never tasted metal.<

                                  >as long as I cooked it in any other container.<

                                  So then you did not actually cook the spaghetti sauce and vegetable soup in the cast iron. It was cooked in a different kind of pot?

                        2. I don't use cast iron so can't answer your first question. Second question: no. What a wacko idea!

                          1. I have gotten an off taste from acidic foods cooked in cast iron. Whether it is iron or the built up seasoning I do not know. I avoid the practice these days, pretty much only use cast iron for frying.

                            1. My husband can taste zinc -- he's allergic. Too much Total is bad too, but low quality silverware is much worse for him than high quality.
                              He's also allergic to iron -- as in fingers swell up if too much contact. I don't do acid cooking in my cast iron...

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Chowrin

                                what does he do to have those compounds in his body? Is he anemic?

                                (no snark - straight-up question)

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  eats them in smaller, less concentrated doses. also touch chemistry is about dissolving ions in sweat... so it's a bit different than eating...

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    ah, okay -- thought that meant that he can't consume them!

                              2. I have never noticed the metal imparting a taste, and I have cooked spaghetti sauce in a cast iron pan many times and do all of my slicing with carbon steel knives. I even deglaze things with white wine in a steel pan. I do notice that pans and knives may add a little grey smudge here and there, but I think we have all gotten past the obsessions with appearance that took us to the brink of societal collapse with white pepper.

                                1. This Fuchsia Dunlop article may be of interest: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/776ba1d4-93...
                                  A snippet to whet your appetite:
                                  'Baked black cod with zinc was as unpleasant as a fingernail scraped down a blackboard, and grapefruit with copper was lip-puckeringly nasty. But both metals struck a lovely, wild chord with a mango relish, their loud, metallic tastes somehow harmonised by its sweet-sour flavour. (“With sour foods, like mango and tamarind, you really are tasting the metal,” says Laughlin, “because the acid strips off a little of the surface.”) Tin turned out to be a popular match for pistachio curry. And Laughlin sang the praises of gold as a spoon for sweet things: “Gold has a smooth, almost creamy quality, and a quality of absence – because it doesn’t taste metallic."'

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: drongo

                                    Ok, this is very strange description for intentional metal added taste.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      It's not that they intentionally added metal... they merely tasted using different metal spoons.
                                      (I wonder if they did blind tasting... if not, the testing has very limited scientific value.)

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        >Ok, this is very strange description for intentional metal added taste.<

                                        ROFL! I too was scratching my head over this. Trying to figure if there is intentional metal tast added to food like wood used to flavor food..... LOL the older I get the more I realize there is so much I just do not know.

                                      2. re: drongo

                                        do not trust this. gold is completely unreactive, so a pure gold spoon should have no added taste. (of course, it would be soft as hell too, so assume gold plated).

                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                          I was also told that gold is not as reactive as many other metals. John Harrison uses a gold spoon for his job as a taster: