There are many benefits to cast iron cookware, whether you had yours handed down to you or you are just starting out and buying some pieces, it is one of the most durable cookware you will ever use.
Choosing Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron comes in many different shapes, sizes, uses and styles. From small skillets and loaf pans to baking pans and large Dutch ovens. Old brands and new like Griswold, Wagner and Lodge. Some look like the traditional cast iron pans while others come with colorful outer enameled finishes. Choose what is right for you. Some cookware will advertise it is preseasoned, don’t let this intimidate you into paying more for the same pan, seasoning cast iron is very easy and I cover it on this page below.
Which pan do you use the most that you have now? This could help on the type of cast iron and size you could start with. While some bigger pieces can get pricey, remember, cast iron unlike other cookware, will last forever. I am fourth generation on several of my pieces.
One I would highly recommend is a grill or grill pan. Lodge makes a nice flat piece that is a griddle on one side and a grill on the other. It is excellent for eggs and pancakes on the griddle side and steaks, chicken, burgers and vegetables on the griddle side. It is under $40 at most major retailers and a good starter piece and you will find many other uses for it. It is like getting two pans for the price of one.
Benefits of Cast Iron
- After proper seasoning cast iron is naturally nonstick and doesn’t release toxins like other nonstick pans.
- Conducts heat evenly for even cooking
- Can go on open flame or electric burner
- Won’t warp
- Fortifies food with iron
- Oven and stove, can handle any temperature
- Can go on open flame
- Has proven to be dependable for thousand of years
- Some nutritionists and people that follow paleo diet plans recommend cast iron
- Practically indestructible
- Great cooking vessel in an emergency situation
- Can be used as a weapon
Cleaning Cast Iron
There are many ways to care for cast iron that vary, it is really up to the person. There are some people with really strong opinions on how to clean cast iron but you can choose what suits you best.
Some people with cast iron are referred to as no soapers, they scrub their cast iron with hot water and use no soap. They believe that soap will strip the cast iron of its seasoning but experts disagree that soap isn’t enough to remove the seasoning because it has formed a polymer coating. If you are like me you will more than likely wash your cast iron with hot soapy water and a scrubber. For stubborn charred on material you can apply a little kosher or rock salt to the pan, put it over high heat then rub the pan with a thick rag or wad of paper towels and then clean the pan with your preferred method; with or without soap.
Whether you use or don’t use soap, you will want to thoroughly dry the cast iron after washing, never let it drip dry as this can lead to rust and will wear down the seasoning of the cast iron.
- Clean with or without soap
- Never use steel wool
- Never allow to drip dry
- Never put in dishwasher
Caring for Cast Iron
Seasoning is the most important thing you can do for your cast iron. For those of you that inherited cast iron passed down, more than likely your pans are perfectly seasoned. Seasoning is nothing more than fats rubbed onto the cast iron then wipe clean where it doesn’t have a greasy residue but a nice, rich, shiny black look then finishing by heating the pan with high heat.
You should also season your cast iron after you have cleaned and dried it before putting it away until the next use.
If you have a new piece of cast iron, even if it came preseasoned, you will want to season it some more before you use it.
How to season cast iron:
- Wash cast iron and dry
- Apply oil to cast iron, all over, buffing it with a towel or paper towels.
- Place in preheated 450 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until pan starts to lightly smoke. It is a good idea to place a banking sheet under pan in case any oil drips off.
- Repeat 3 times for new cast iron
Don’t worry, you don’t need to follow these steps every time you use your cast iron. You can coat your clean and dry cast iron with oil and place it on the stove over high heat for a few minutes, until it smokes lightly then cool and put away. I use pure oil cooking spray on my cast iron for maintaining the seasoning.
Remember, the more you cook with your cast iron, the better it will become.
While I love cooking with cast iron, you don’t have to use it to make any of the recipes at this site.