Cast iron for anemia: Is pre-seasoned just as good?
I need to start cooking more frequently in cast iron and am in the market for an 8-inch pan (I have a 12-inch I love, but it is too large to scramble a couple of eggs, mash up some beans, etc.).
The best deals I am finding online are all for pre-seasoned skillets. I don't know anything about this "pre-seasoning" process, and I'm wondering if it seals up the pan to the point that iron will not enter my diet as well as it would in a pan I seasoned myself with just cooking oil.
Anyone have expertise in this area?
Pre-seasoned should be fine. If you want to really up your iron intake, you can occasionally make an acidic sauce or deglaze with wine.
If I can please put this all in context.
The overall amount of iron that is absorbed from cooking on a cast iron skillet is negligible. I know it feels like the right thing to do, but it's contribution to dietary iron and the treatment of anemia is exceptionally modest at best.
All that said, by all means use a pre-seasoned skillet. It will encourage you to use it, and will ease it's entry into your cookware quill as it were.
My experience with both the Lodge cast iron as well as their carbon steel pans is that they do a fairly decent job in seasoning them from the factory.
I have always added a layer or 2 of my own seasoning and have put them to use right after that.
<The overall amount of iron that is absorbed from cooking on a cast iron skillet is negligible. I know it feels like the right thing to do, but it's contribution to dietary iron and the treatment of anemia is exceptionally modest at best.>
I always believed this, too. And it is true, if you're talking about things that are ideal in cast iron. But when you start cooking finish-stripping acidic foods, like tomato sauce, beans and some veggies, the truth is that it's a great way to increase iron. It can strip your pan, sure. But you will get a LOT more iron.
I don't know the science behind iron leaching into food but I tend to believe it's not much, if any.
I like Lodge. Made in USA and thick and heavy. If weight is an issue, get an old Griswold. The old cast iron is thinner because it was used on wood burning devices -- something that most of us don't have anymore. Less wood would be needed to heat the older ones.
Get a Lodge or Griswold and research how to season them. There's a million threads in Chowhound about seasoning.
Personally, I get new Lodge and sand it first, then the cleaning and seasoning steps, even if it is preseasoned.
P.S. There's more reasons to cook on cast iron than just the iron diet :)
I suffer sometimes from exercise-induced anemia and like others have said cooking with cast iron will add additional iron in your diet, but it is at best marginal.
If you find yourself a bit sluggish, light-headed, etc., sit down with a nice juicy burger, or a big plate of oysters, a cup of orange juice to wash it all down with, and ease up on the coffee.
Otherwise, go see a doctor and find out if supplements are necessary.