Cast iron cookware has been around since the 1800s. Still, it’s only in recent years that people have been talking about the difference between smooth and rough cast-iron cookware. What are they? Which one is better? Should you buy a new piece of cookware or replace some old pieces from your kitchen?
Here we’ll go over what these two types of cast iron look like and which one you should choose for your kitchen.
Table of Contents
Which is better? The short answer.
Rough cast-iron is better. Not only does it retain heat better, but it sears meat better. Smooth cast iron is easier to clean and lighter, but in terms of cooking, rough cast iron wins. You would buy vintage cast iron for its appearance rather than cooking ability.
The Difference Between Smooth and Rough Cast Iron cookware –
Cast iron cookware comes in two basic types: rough and smooth. Their names describe them very well, and the difference between them is striking.
Rough cast-iron cookware has a textured surface similar to a stone or metal griddle – smooth but with lots of bumps and lines.
If you were to compare it to an object, it looks like a large cement block that’s been smoothed over with water. The rough texture provides excellent heat retention. The irregularities also provide air pockets for superior heat distribution and cooking.
Rough cast-iron cookware is excellent for cooking steaks and pan-fried foods because it browns and retains the heat. It works very well at searing steaks in cast iron skillets before finishing them in an oven.
In contrast, smooth cast iron cookware is smooth with no bumps or nicks. It won’t retain heat and rough cast-irons. Still, it has several other benefits that make it an excellent choice for everyday cooking and serving.
It’s lightweight, which makes it great for cooking in the oven. It’s also a good choice for busy cooks who need to focus on other aspects of their food besides stirring or flipping food in the pan.
You can use smooth cast iron on top of your wood or gas stove if you have an electric stove that heats unevenly. The smooth surface can help to distribute the heat evenly. This is especially important if you use a Dutch oven and want to impress your friends with perfectly golden-brown cakes and bread.
Why are some cast iron cookware smooth when others are rough-textured?
There are different grades of cast iron, and they all differ in how smooth or rough the surface is. The reason for this is because the material used to create the gray cast iron needs to be worked with while it’s still hot.
The work process involves a rough rod being rolled over the glowing material while it was still hot. The raw and slightly molten metal was removed by scraping off a thin layer, then reheating it before reshaping.
This helps to loosen any unwanted impurities from the raw materials, which helps make the smooth texture on your cookware. The surface oxidizes a little, but the process is carefully controlled to not change the nature of the cast iron itself.
After that, the cookware is sanded to create a smooth surface. Even after it’s sanded down, you will find that there are still imperfections in the texture if you rub your finger across it. These minor nicks and edges are what add character to your cookware.
The old smooth cast iron cookware
In the 1800s, people started making cast iron pans. However, they didn’t manufacture them like they do today.
They were so polished back in the 1800s that they used to bathe the cookware in the sand to have a smooth finish. The earlier cast iron cookware was polished by tinning it in tin or lead.
This was also done because people didn’t have ovens at home and wanted to give off different looks to their pots when they were being cooked for special occasions. That’s why you’ll find even vintage pieces were polished because they wanted it to be shiny but without harmful chemicals.
The reason why today’s cast iron can be rough is that it’s not polished in the sand like it was done in the olden days. The Batali cookware is unique because, in today’s generation, the pots are made rough and then polished after they are made.
It’s a more modern-day process that gives the pot its different looks. Some people like this process better because it makes the cast iron cookware more affordable.
Can You Smooth Out a Rough Cast Iron Pan?
If you want your pan to be flat without any spots or bumps on it, then sanding it with coarse sandpaper will do the trick. This will give it a smooth surface after all of the spots and blemishes are gone. Suppose you are not comfortable doing this yourself. In that case, I suggest going to a professional who knows how to do this job properly.