I guess I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy when it comes to cooking over a fire or on coals. There is simply one tool of choice, and that is the cast iron pot – or so I thought.
During a recent conversation around a casual campfire a friend asked, ‘why do you continually persist to cook with – and carry around – a cast iron product when spun steel is now so readily available on the market?’
A good question – and one that I didn’t have the answer to.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of spun steel, but even if I had, there’d be no way it could replace the already tried and tested cast iron pot right?…..or could it?
This prompted me to look online for a spun steel pot and being the impulsive person I am, to the joy of Mrs Clancy, it was on my doorstep four days later.
With the snip of the two securing straps around the cardboard packaging, my brand new shiny spun steel pot – along with some basic care and preparation instructions (more to come on this in an upcoming post on caring for your camp oven) – was released.
The first thing I noticed was just how light the pot was even though it was a 12qt in size compared to my 9qt cast iron. This is a definite “pro” straight off the bat for spun steel.
Let me literally weigh this up for you – the cast iron 9qt pot weighs in at 8.8kgs compared to the 12qt spun steel pot – which is less than half the weight at 4.1kgs.
Another big tick for spun steel is the strength and durability. Whilst not tested, I have no doubt the spun steel pot can be dropped, dinted, manhandled and thrown around without suffering any serious damage. The cast iron, on the other hand, needs to be treated with a little more love and care. I know this too well having dropped my beloved and well-seasoned cast iron pot only to have it shatter into many pieces. Not good when I consider the meals and memories made from one single pot.
So how do they compare when cooking?
To start with, the spun steel gets up to temperature a lot faster than cast iron, however, it is difficult to maintain a constant temperature over a long cook. On the other hand, cast iron takes longer to get up to temperature, though seems to maintain a more even and constant heat even whilst away from the fire – making it idea for that low and slow cook.
One nifty advantage with the spun steel pot is its lid – which doubles as a handy frypan over the fire source.
Both pots serve a purpose. Quick simple meals will be best catered for in the spun steel pot, however, for a long and slow cook, I’d still much prefer to use cast iron – I can relax around the fire trusting a steady cook rather than continually checking that my pot’s heat is correct.
So it will definitely come down to use and preference next time you are planning a trip away. For me, the 4kg weight difference isn’t a big enough persuader to put me off my trusty cast iron – although it has me thinking twice…I may just have to find the room to pack both.