Cast iron pans have been around for a long time. Go to any flea market, garage sale or look in any grandma’s kitchen and you will be likely to find one or two. There is definitely a reason for this. Not only are cast iron pans very durable and made to last, they are great for cooking because of their versatility. If you are looking at making the switch to cast iron pans for your kitchen or you were lucky enough to be passed down a well seasoned set, here are some tips for caring for your cast iron as well as why making the switch to cast iron pans is good for your health and the environment.
How to Care for Cast Iron Pans and Why I made the Switch
Cast Iron care:
Wash carefully. This is hugely debated issue among cast iron pan users. Some say soap is OK others say no soap. I prefer the no soap method. I just take a tea towel or a kitchen towel and wipe it out well. It cleans up remarkably well and no heavy scrubbing is really ever required. One thing is for sure, never soak a cast iron pan or run it through the dishwasher.
Scrub with salt. I like to use kosher salt if I need to scrub some food bits off. I just use a tiny bit of oil and a tablespoon or so of salt and scrub and scrape. I also use these nifty cast iron scrapers I have to get things clean.
Make sure to keep you cast iron dry when storing. Cast Iron can rust over time, so make sure it is dry when you put it away.
Season your new cast iron. There are many new brands out there that say they are pre-seasoned, but I like to season mine anyways. To season a cast iron skillet or pan for the first time, heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Make sure your new pan is clean. You can do this by washing in water (not soaking) ad drying very thoroughly. Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the inside surface of your pan. You can also use shortening. Place on a cookie sheet or line your oven rack with foil. Place pan upside down and bake for approximately 1 hour and turn of your oven. Leave the pan in the oven until it is cool enough to touch with no heat.
Why I Switched to Cast Iron Pans
The number one reason I switched was because they simply are cheaper in the long run. I still have some pans that are various other types from Teflon to ceramic that I am phasing out as I don’t believe in just tossing things in the garbage, but as they wear out, I have been buying cast iron and now find myself using the cast iron for more and more. Cast Iron holds up very well.
I also find cast iron to be more versatile for cooking. I can put cast iron in the oven as well as cook on my stove top. Cast iron is great for cooking at high temperatures and for frying or sauteing.
Cast Iron and Iron Intake
When I was researching information on cast iron pans, I saw conflicting information on cast iron and iron getting in your food and “boosting” your food’s nutrition. Personally, I think the kind of iron that cast iron is made from is not the kind that will offer our bodies and benefits and it is an insignificant amount. Use your best judgement.
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