I love my Cast Iron cookware, I use it daily. It is easy to use, to care for and doesn’t infuse all my scratch cooking with toxins and chemicals that modern day Teflon pans do; so what’s not to love?!
I often hear the moans about how “stuff sticks,” but cast iron, when taken care of, is a breeze to use. Cast iron simply needs to be “seasoned, or “cured”. When you buy a new piece, pick up a ‘new to you’ piece at a garage sale or finally break out Grandma’s cast iron that she gave you years ago… season it a few times before preparing any food in it. If it is terribly rusted and looks like it can’t be reclaimed, try an SOS pad or stainless steel on it with some serious elbow grease and I am guessing you’ll be able to save it.
Seasoning a pan is easy: coat the pan in Coconut oil, Crisco (or lard (ew!) or olive oil) and bake it in at a low temperature for a few hours. We tend to season ours with Coconut oil, or Crisco at 250 degrees for about 4 hours, with a piece of tinfoil on the rack below the cast iron pieces. This is as simple as it sounds. I literally scoop about a ¼ cup of coconut oil out of the container with my hand and slather it on liberally, covering the entire pan or piece. That’s it. Just remove from the oven when the timer goes off and set on a wire rack to cool before you put them away.
Some of the pieces that I use daily are well over 50 years old—we would attempt to season or ‘cure’ our cast iron every few months, but I always forgot—however, now it’s on my calendar to do it every 3 months! A simple reminder to do this 5 minute task…rocket science, I tell you. For years I would forget– you would think something as simple as writing the task on the kitchen calendar would have popped into my mind. This keeps them in pristine shape and ready to be called into service when I need them!
A few Cast Iron tips? Never use an alcohol-based cooking type spray, because it will dry out your pan and you’ll have stuck-on food that is tough to remove! (Ask me how I know this.) Cast iron doesn’t need much cleaning beyond being wiped out with a dry rag or paper towel, depending on what you’ve cooked. I try to avoid using any soap on them but when needed, I’ll use hot water and a sponge or dishcloth for cleaning. On occasion if I have something stuck–say, like crispy fried chicken pieces–I just put some water in the pan, heat it back up slow and low, and that will usually warm it enough for me to gently scrape off the residue with a wooden spoon. Wooden utensils or stainless steel work best.
Cast Iron is wonderful for cooking (and baking!) in. It maintains even temperatures, holds heat really well…not to mention you can cook on just about any surface; from electric range top, to propane, to woodstove, to open fire.
Cast iron is simply the best for our health, but it’s also simple to care for and the results are simply delicious!