Cast iron vs cast aluminum

norar_il

I read the thread on the cast iron dutch ovens. Most of you seem to really like theirs, but the main complaint is weight. Does anyone have a cast aluminum dutch oven? I've been reading and it seems they are pretty much the equivalent, but weigh about a third as much. That is very attractive to me. But does the weight affect the cooking?

Another question I have is what size is the most useful for two people? I'm thinking of a 2 1/2 or 3 quart and a 6 or so quart. Are they the sizes you use more frequently?

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jane__ny

I like cast iron however, cannot handle the weight The only cast iron I have now is a small fry pan I use for eggs or a small amount of other things. I cannot deal with the weight of anything larger.


Jane

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maifleur03

I have had some cast Club aluminum and the difficulty I found was that many of the foods I cook have a lot of acid in them which can etch the surface if the food was not immediately removed and the pan cleaned. Size would depend on what you would cook in it most often. The one that I used most frequently until the lid was damaged was an oval pan that was long enough to place a chicken or large roast in with room at the ends for veggies.

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marilyn_c

I have several pieces of Magnalite, cast aluminum. I didn't buy it....it was given to me. I have never used any of it. I have meant to put it on eBay, because it sells good. I have a lot of cast iron...both enameled and regular.... I do use it. It is heavy, but I have always used it, and I like it. Also have a lot of good quality stainless cookware that I use.

I have so much cookware, I have been known to give complete sets away. One time about 4 miles from home, my neighbor, who was on a horse, flagged me down. She thought she had left a pot on a lit burner at her house. She tied the horse, and I quickly drove her home. She had indeed left a pot on a lit burner on her stove. She grabbed it and threw it out in the yard. It was such a crappy Teflon pot, I felt bad for her. That evening I sent Jody to take her a full set of Revere ware. It beat anything she had. I used to go to Goodwill all the time, and I bought a lot of cooking equipment. I had a lot of Revere and Farberware...still do, plus other brands.

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Lars

My Dutch oven is anodized aluminum, and so it weighs a lot less than the cast iron ones. Since I use it only for deep frying, I have no need for a cast iron one and would not want one, especially since my range is gas and not induction.

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arkansas girl

I have the huge Magnalite skillet with lid that I absolutely love. It is fast becoming my favorite cooking pan that I own. It doesn't stick when I cook chicken or pork chops etc. and cooks evenly. I love to slow cook in it on top of the stove also. I hardly ever use my cast iron that I own. I do still drag out my large cast iron skillet from time to time. If I use a dutch oven size pan, I normally use my large Revere Ware that I've had for 40 years!

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ci_lantro

Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Frying Pan/ Fry Pan/ Saute Pan/ All Purpose Pan with Lid - 12 Inch, Gray

I bought this pan 8 years ago today. Gets used a lot. The non-stick is still in great shape. Would replace it immediately if something ever happens to it.

Supposedly oven safe to 400 degrees (but I've never used it in the oven.)

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Elizabeth

Can all this aluminum go in the dishwasher? Deal breaker for me if it can't.

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nicole___

I have anodized aluminum by Magnalite. A whole set. It can not go in the dishwasher, it turns the lids weird colors and doesn't get it clean. It also has rubber handles that slip on, super hard to get off. It's really heavy. It does NOT acid etch or add flavors to your food....like cast iron does.

I have a whole set of Stainless steel pots & pans, Everyday by Wedgewood, they are the lightest. I hand wash ALL my pans. Gas flames make the bottoms of my SS "dirty", They have to be scrubbed with bar keepers friend to look like new.

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Alisande

My parents used cast aluminum, but I won't. I know the medical community says aluminum cookware is safe, but they also caution that aluminum dissolves if the pan is worn or pitted, and the cookware shouldn't be used with acidic foods. Aluminum is not something I want to ingest. I avoid aluminum in baking powder too.

I'm a big fan of cast iron though. I just read a list of foods you shouldn't cook in it, and all I can say is I've been cooking those things in cast iron for decades. It hasn't pitted, and it hasn't flavored my food. I have two stainless steel saucepans; everything else in regular use in my kitchen is cast iron--some enameled, some not.

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Elmer J Fudd

I won't use aluminum cookware either, for the reasons others have noted. It's a personal choice.


I understand that the weight can be an issue for some but I'd look at it as an opportunity rather than a problem. Imagine if your friend had a normal walking route that was too far for you to do comfortably. You'd build up to it with increasingly longer walks until it was possible for you too. Similarly, everyone can benefit from weight training, no matter how little the weight. Start slowly, set aside some cans to lift and move around a little each day, for 5 or 10 minutes. Gradually, add them to a pot and lift it up and down a bit each day. As you add weight, your strength will increase. In a matter of weeks, the amount of weight you can lift comfortably and safely will also increase.

There's no need for anyone to change their life to be able to use a type of cookware but weight exercises are a good idea for any and every person, no matter what or why.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

I cook a lot of acidic things as well, and do not want that extra aluminum in my food - not only for health reasons either. It can discolor food and make things taste weird.

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raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

I have a large Magnalite pot also, with a bakelite handle - has to be well over 60 years old - it was in use when I was a child. I recall some smaller pots/saucepans, but I don't know where they ended up.

I don't use it as much as I used to, since if I am cooking large quantities of soup/stew/chili/ spaghetti sauce now for the freezer, I have a nice Analon dutch oven also which I use. But I do like it for its heavy weight when I am doing a slow cook of some things. It isn't pitted, and I have never noticed an off or metallic taste to the food cooked in it.

I hand wash all my pots and pans.


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kathyg_in_mi

I have a large Magnalite roasting pan that I haven’t used in many years. It is just taking up space in my cupboards. With just the 2 of us it it too big. Don’t know why I keep it.

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morz8

I have some vintage magnalite cast aluminum that see frequent use. A 15" roaster that I put on layaway before even having my own kitchen. Remember those days, seems light years ago. No money to spend, so would put a little down on something I needed and the store would hold it until cash could be saved to pick it up ;0)

Large dutch oven, two saucepans that I reach for a lot. The saucepans are particularly useful for.....sauces, even consistent heat ;0) And potatoes, things I might like to use my hand mixer or stick blender in without transferring contents to something compatible with metal...no worrying about scratches or abusing them.

They are almost vintage now, heavy, and I do hand wash them. One lid went through the dishwasher as a test many years ago and proved they will never look their best being washed in the auto dishwasher.

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cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

Elmer, my philosophy exactly-added weight training with my cast iron pans and pots! All mine are cast iron with some enameled and some not.

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ci_lantro

Elizabeth, aluminum doesn't go in the dishwasher. Nor does anodized aluminum. Nor non-stick pans. Because the detergent is corrosive to aluminum. Aluminum discolors and the corrosive detergent is tough on non-stick pans.

The Analon pan that I have cleans up so easily, there is no point of putting it in the DW. (The glass lid, yes.)

I hand wash almost all pots & pans anyway because they are dishwasher space hogs.

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Lars

Anodized aluminum is so easy to clean by hand that there is no reason to put it in the dishwasher. I also put almost no pans in the dishwasher as it is anyway, because they are so bulky, as ci_lantro noted. Regular cast iron pans should not go in the dishwasher either, and they are much more difficult to wash/rinse by hand, due to their weight. The only pans I put in the dishwasher are small saucepans, and I usually wash them by hand instead anyway, as I need to have them clean at all times.

If you want exercise, there are better ways to do it than by hefting cast iron pans, which can be rather unwieldy - especially if you are a beginner weightlifter. I prefer to get my exercise outside the kitchen - much of it in my yards.

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arkansas girl

No pots and pans in the dishwasher for me either. As far as cast iron being too heavy...I think it's easy for younger people to not see this as a hurdle. I can remember kind of rolling my eyes at Mom when she wouldn't use a one gallon pitcher for iced tea because that's what I used. Well, now that I'm almost 60, I can see that a one gallon pitcher filled with liquid is very heavy. I think when we are young and in good health, we take that for granted! Cast iron is too heavy for some people especially if someone has a disability or is older and perhaps becoming feeble. There are lots of reasons why a big cast iron pan could be too heavy. Not everyone can lift weights!

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Lucille

Not everyone can lift weights!

Resistance training, which is what weightlifting is part of, helps save bone density in older adults. Everyone can start small and built strength a little at a time.

Big giant weights at the gym are one thing, but a frying pan is achievable for many if they want to try.

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arkansas girl

Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with good health!

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Lucille

But almost everyone can increase strength, and it doesn't take that much time or effort. Starting with lifting little tiny cans of tomato sauce, work up to the 28 oz. Centos, and voila! one day the small little cast iron pans will be possible!!

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Elmer J Fudd

"Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with good health!"

Nor good judgement.

I'm happy on this occasion to agree with Lucille.

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arkansas girl

Y'all are splitting hairs here! Some of those cast iron pans weight a TON! I'm sure that almost anyone can pick up a tiny little cast iron pan but that's not really what we are talking about here now is it?

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Lucille

Some of those cast iron pans weight a TON!

No. NONE of these pans weigh 2,000 pounds. The one starting the discussion from the Dutch oven thread weighs 21.6 pounds.

Because of the problems of osteoporosis, which resistance training can help prevent, I think that making an effort to increase strength and work with reasonable weights 10-20 lbs might be something to consider.

Cast iron is too heavy for some people especially if someone has a disability or is older and perhaps becoming feeble.

I think the mindset that some things can't be done by the disabled, or older people, leads to their exclusion from jobs, social activities, etc. We are still struggling with the mindset that women are unable to handle many jobs that they are in fact able to do. Why not encourage everyone's participation, letting them decide what they can manage?

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Alisande

As I mentioned above, I use cast iron cookware extensively. Their weight can be an issue, and for some people it has little to do with muscle strength. I know arthritis in the wrist or thumb joint is not uncommon. For myself, I made the mistake of getting involved in a cat fight years ago, a mistake that opened up the side of my left wrist, requiring stitches. Today a perpetually inflamed lump marks the spot, and pain makes it difficult to hold onto things sometimes--heavy things all the time. I've had to make accommodations when lifting some of my cast iron. I can see where people with arthritis could have a serious problem with heavy cookware.

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ci_lantro

The one starting the discussion from the Dutch oven thread weighs 21.6 pounds.


Is this the real, 'I weighed it on my kitchen scale' weight? Because I don't think it is. If you check the weight on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Tramontina-80131-078DS-Enameled-Gradated/dp/B009HBK1E8/ref=pd_di_sccai_1?pd_rd_w=g4oJo&pf_rd_p=c9443270-b914-4430-a90b-72e3e7e784e0&pf_rd_r=DPGBDCH94NFNN0F9MDTD&pd_rd_r=efdc3675-5d5d-4981-8569-ae4fd6ad0d77&pd_rd_wg=Qfwog&pd_rd_i=B009HBK1E8&th=1

of this 7 qt Tramontina oven, according to Amazon, the blue one weighs 10.65# and the identical, except for color, red one weighs 14.9#.

So you can't trust what Amazon says.

Nonetheless, it will probably be the heaviest pot in your kitchen.

For comparison, a 7 qt Kitchenaid mixer weighs 25-26#. The 5 qt model weighs around 20#. So, if your mixer is too heavy, you probably are not going to like the weight of a cast iron DO.



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ci_lantro

Back to OP's question--cast aluminum vs cast iron.

I did own a 5 qt Club cast aluminum DO back in the day. (Raw metal interior/ painted exterior) Back before I became a pressure cooker convert. Used it quite a lot because it was the largest pot I owned. But almost exclusively as a stove top pan....I have never used the oven for much other than baking & Thanksgiving turkey & stuffing. Probably because I lived in the southwest US for many of those years. And in a house without air conditioning for some. So, climate was a huge influence on how & what I cook.

Aluminum (and copper) excel as a heat conductor and is quickly responsive to changes in the burner output. Cast iron is superior with retaining heat. Which makes CI theoretically better for low, slow cooking. Raw aluminum & raw cast iron don't like acid. So we have enameled CI and non stick aluminum available that are resistant to acidic foods.

Each have their place & best uses. You can have both or choose one that best suits how & what you cook the majority of the time.

Personally, I don't have much use for a DO. The pressure cooker handles 'low-slow' food at warp speed and on a whim "I need refritos to go with the enchiladas..." The large stainless stock pot handles big batches of canning tomatoes and large batches of broth on a winter day (smaller batches are made in the pressure cooker). I do have a couple or three stainless DO's of various sizes (I haunt garage sales) but those are seldom used anymore--empty nest.

That said, I 'would' use my Le Crueset for No Knead bread (which is wonderful). Except that I am gluten intolerant. So bread is mostly off the menu for me.

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hallngarden

Used same cast iron pans for past 61 years. All are in perfect condition. Never stick.

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