Everyone knows that cooking with “modern” non-stick cookware is a bad idea, right? In addition to the fact that the non-stick surface gradually flakes off and winds up in your food, it also emits toxic gases that can kill birds if it gets too hot. So, what do you do instead? Cook in cast iron, of course!
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Cast iron cookware
has been around since the 1800s, and has multiple benefits.
What are the benefits of cooking with cast iron?
Cast iron cookware is known for its durability, but it also has some unique health benefits, making it a popular choice for many home cooks.
Firstly, cooking with cast iron can increase the amount of iron in your diet. When you cook food in a cast iron pan, a small amount of iron is released into the food, benefiting people who are prone to anemia.
Secondly, cast iron cookware is non-toxic and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or coatings that can leach into your food. This makes it a safer option for cooking and can help reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Cast iron skillets are versatile. They can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, and we use our cast iron pizza pan in the oven for pizza and on the stovetop or the grill as a griddle. A Dutch oven can be used to make a stew on the stovetop, or it can be used as a cake pan or casserole pan in the oven.
Lastly, cast iron cookware is wonderfully non-stick when used correctly. The keys to taking advantage of cast iron’s non-stick magic are …
- Be sure the pan is well seasoned. Most cast iron pans sold today are already seasoned, but if you happen to inherit one or find an old one at an estate sale that looks abused, you can easily restore it to its earlier glory. Give it a good scrubbing with soap and hot water and a scouring pad, then season it by rubbing a thin coating of oil on it and putting it into a warm oven for an hour. You can also deep fry something in it. Basically, you want to get oil into the iron. So, the more you use your cast iron cookware, the more seasoned it gets, and the better the non-stick surface becomes.
- Add a thin coating of butter, lard, or oil when cooking. If you’re deep-frying, feel free to add as much oil as you need.
- Cook on low to medium heat. If you crank up the temperature too high when cooking things like eggs, they’ll stick.
So, maybe you’ve heard all of this before, but you tried, and it didn’t work for you. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is priceless, so I created this video to show you just how easy it is to cook with cast iron.
Step-by-step guide to cooking with cast iron
Here are the steps to follow when cooking with cast iron:
- Preheat your cast iron skillet: Place your skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Allow the skillet to heat for 5 minutes.
- Add oil or fat: Once your skillet is hot, add a small amount of oil or fat to the pan. This will help prevent sticking and create a non-stick surface.
- Add your ingredients: Once your oil or fat is hot, add your ingredients to the skillet. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, as this can cause your food to steam instead of sear.
- Cook your ingredients: Cook your ingredients until they are browned and crispy on the outside. This will help create a delicious crust and seal in the flavor.
- Clean your skillet: After cooking, allow your skillet to cool before cleaning it. Use a stiff brush and hot water to scrub away any food residue. A lot of people say you should avoid using soap, as this can damage the seasoning on your skillet. However, if your pan is well seasoned, you can’t really wash it off.
- Dry your skillet: Once your skillet is clean, dry it thoroughly with a paper towel. To prevent rust, it’s essential to make sure your skillet is completely dry before storing it.
- Add a thin layer of cooking oil with a paper towel. This last step is optional unless you have used soap when cleaning, in which case, you really should oil it up before putting it away.
Are there disadvantages to cooking with cast iron?
Yes, there are some potential disadvantages to cooking with cast iron. Here are a few:
- Cast iron can be heavy and difficult to handle, especially when it’s hot.
- Cast iron can be prone to rust and corrosion if not properly cared for.
- Cast iron can take longer to heat up than other types of cookware, which can be a disadvantage if you’re in a hurry.
- Cast iron can react with acidic foods, such as tomatoes or vinegar, which can cause a metallic taste and discoloration. So it’s not the best for cooking chili or spaghetti sauce.
Despite these potential disadvantages, many people still prefer cooking with cast iron because of its durability, versatility, and ability to retain heat.
And unlike many of the best things in life, cast iron is actually less expensive than the chemical alternative. (Check out this Lodge L8SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet.) On top of that, cast iron cookware will last so long that you can put it in your will. My son already has dibs on my cast iron when I die, but I imagine he’ll probably buy his own long before then.
Read more: Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet
Originally published on June 1, 2016
9 thoughts on “Secrets to Cooking with Cast Iron”
You can truly draw out the flavor in vegetables by adding them to moderate cooker formulas. Vegetables cushion out stews and soups and the turn out delicious, succulent and with an extremely rich taste. Onions are added to various moderate cooking formulas, as are shallots and leeks.Click here
The other very important component to cast iron cooking, that I don’t hear mentioned often enough, is the metal spatula. If you primarily use a wooden or plastic spatula on your cast iron, the seasoning will build up in a lumpy and uneven manner, which kinda defeats the whole “non-stick” effect. The seasoning is hard, and the wooden or plastic spatulas just don’t have enough bite to dig into the lumps. It’s important to have a metal spatula with a flat edge and rounded corners that you use to scrap the seasoning on the bottom flat. To learn more, visit http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp
I even have a number of forged iron pans and posts myself. Through serious, they are doing last forever and zilch beats creating a cut on a forged iron pan because it gets extremely hot! I conjointly coat mine with a layer of oil once I’ve wasted it.
Have an excellent week! Marino
Thank you for this post! I’m going to ask questions. 🙂
I’ve recently bought two pans at the Goodwill that look and feel like cast iron–but now I’m too scared to use them because they don’t really say what they are.
Is there a look-and-feel-alike that’s dangerous, or am I being a ninny?
Is there a way to clean them (since I have no idea what they’ve been through) that’s better than really hot water?
Thank you again for the great information, and in advance if you can shed any light on my quandary.
Congratulations on your new pans! That’s actually a good question. If they are solid black and heavier than any other pots you have, you’ve probably got the real thing. I’ve never heard of anything that looks like cast iron that would be dangerous. Feel free to give them a super tough scrubbing! They can handle it! That’s what I did when I bought a dutch oven at an estate sale. I used hot soapy water with one of those stainless steel pads. Then dry it with a paper towel (because it’ll turn your towel black) and put a thin coating of olive oil on it or whatever oil you cook with. No need to wash before using it. If you think it’s collected some dust, you can just wipe it with a paper towel.
Maybe remind everyone that iron rusts! So never leave sitting around with water on it or in it. Love my cast iron!
Great reminder! Yeah, don’t leave a pan soaking in the sink overnight. You can get the rust scrubbed off, but it’s not fun.
May I use my cast iron skillets on my new glass top stove?
I can’t think of a reason why not. Just set it down gently. But you should probably do that with all pots.