by Justin Dela Cruz
The Cast Iron is a popular cooking material and has stuck around in kitchens for decades. The reason being is that skillets, pots, and ovens, made out of the material are versatile and reliable. You can use them for baking, grilling, cooking, and searing, and use it on a stovetop, an open flame, or toss it in the oven. The uses for cast iron in the kitchen is vast, and thanks to a certain Disney princess, even a way of protecting yourself.
But some people have a few issues with Cast Iron Cookware that stop them from getting one or using the ones they have.
For owners, it’s a variety of questions like:
All reasonable and valid questions.
For people who are looking to buy one they face another set of problems like:
Well, good news! Here are some fantastic tips, tricks, and debunked myths about using this type of ware that will help you get the most out of your cast iron pan.
For starters, there are some rumors that some people might have heard about cast iron that are not true.
Myth 1: Don’t ever let water touch your cast iron.
This myth has some reason behind it but to never use water on your cast iron not right. While water on metal, especially iron, can rust, if you dry off the pan thoroughly and season it, rust will never be an issue.
Myth 2: Never use dish soap to clean your cast iron.
Soap is not a harsh enough chemical to do any substantial damage to your cast iron immediately. The occasional use is exceptional when food is stuck or taking off the rust but to never use soap is not valid.
Myth 3: Don’t use acidic ingredients in your cast iron or make acidic foods. (i.e., tomatoes, wine, vinegar, tomato sauce)
This myth is not a never but more of casually do so in this cooking material. The debate rages that it gives a metallic taste to your food and others countering that if you season well enough, it won’t happen. This idea is more cooks preference than fact, so take this one with a grain of salt.
Myth 4: Rust ruins the cast iron.
LIES! Based on the fear or worry of how cast iron works and what this could do to your food. Relatable to how kids would be told not to eat seeds as plants would grow in their stomachs. Rust is the oxidation of the metal and can easily be removed with soap or baking soda, a stiff brush or steel wool, seasoning it, and baking.
Rust is a usual occurrence with this type of cooking ware and easily mended.
Now that all the big myths are clarified and debunked, let's get to the good stuff.
First, cooking with cast iron is one of the rare items in the kitchen that get better with every use. Unlike knives that can dull out, cutting boards that break, and other pots and pans that wear down, cast iron gets better as you use it and can last for decades.
So, naturally, the first thing to learn would be how to take care of your cast iron.
After every use of your cast-iron skillet, pot, or pan, you have to clean it promptly after every use. Using warm to hot water, a firm brush, and soap if you desire, clean out any food scraps from the interior and exterior of the cookware. Also, remember to include the handles.
Don’t be afraid to use a scraper or any other utensils to remove gunk, Cast-Iron is forgiving and will be okay with metal on metal contact.
Immediately dry using either paper towels, a cloth, or putting back on the stove on high heat. This step dries off or evaporates any excess water that remained.
Next, add a thin layer of vegetable oil to the bottom of the cooking surface coat the inside, the exterior, and the handle of the cookware. You are welcome to use any oil, but some cooks have a preference for canola oil or flaxseed oil. Once coated, remove any excess by running a paper towel or cloth over the cast iron.
Finally, lay a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the pan, pot, or skillet facedown over the foil and let bake for one hour. The purpose of this step is to allow the oil to bake into the cast iron, creating a layer of polymerized oil. This layer will create a non-stick surface that makes cooking easier for frying eggs, searing steak, or whatever you decide to cook.
When you take care of your cast iron, you also prevent the rust from forming.
To remove rust off cast iron, you will need soap or baking soda, a stiff brush or steel wool, some time, and elbow grease.
Wash the cast iron like you would do any other plate or pan until you get the rust off. Don’t be afraid of getting rough; it can take the pressure. Once removed, follow the same steps mentioned earlier.
Rusting for cast iron is a regular occurrence for even the most seasoned cook and is removed quickly. Once the rust is gone, all it takes is re-seasoning your cast iron with another thin layer of oil to form that polymeric lining.
Considering buying a cast iron but on the fence if it's worth it or not? Here a few pieces of advice to assure you of the purchase.
False. Cast iron cookware is affordable and is available in retail stores, online, thrift stores, and, if your lucky, yard sales. The prices vary, but the most expensive ones on the market go between $27 to $35 for a single item and the cheapest going for $3.
Seasoning cast iron is the process after cleaning with hot water and drying where you add oil to the cast iron and bake it into the cookware. This process is what creates the non-stick lining.
Now if you have read through this article, you’ve found out how to season your cast iron in the maintenance portion.
If you are looking for ways to help season your new pan as you cook, here are five recipes that can help. These cover simple uses like making bacon and cornbread to even making a whole chicken in the frying pan.
Store it in a dry space is the overall requirement.
If you are planning to store it and stack other cookware on top, it’s best to have a layer of paper towels between surfaces. The purpose is to prevent any water that remained on the surface to not come in contact with iron.
Another choice most people do is store the cast iron in the oven and after baking it in the oven for the seasoning process.
From Dutch Ovens, Cast Iron Skillets, and Pots, these are a jack-of-all-trades kind of cooking ware. They can do anything you need and can take a lot of abuse. Perfect for camping, people interested in cooking, and any would-be cook. Don’t be afraid of using or getting cast iron in your kitchen. As soon as you get the hang of using and maintaining it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it before.