Cast Iron: The Cookware You Should Start and Never Stop Using
Cast iron has remained a big deal in cookware that continues to stand the test of time. Earning their spot as one of the most legendary options in cookware history, there are far too many benefits to name. Cast iron significantly improves following years of consistent use and will outlast any stainless steel skillet. Continue reading to find out why cast irons have become a staple in my kitchen.
Tuesday night came around just like any other night of the week. cold, desperate and trolling me because it’s two days from Friday. Not only was it Tuesday, but it’s also tax time, yay. (Sarcasm) As I’m shuffling through receipts desperately trying to find a tax write off golden ticket, I started to notice an increase in my expenses starting right around….November.
In recent developments, it appears that this increase has been plaguing my bank account nearly every weekend consecutively, since Thanksgiving. It brought back memories of going into Home Goods stores rummaging through awkwardly stacked ceramic dishes, pots and pans. Googling sales and clearance items from Williams Sonoma at 2:00AM. Even.. stealing “permanently borrowing” from my beloved grandmother.
It all boiled down to the fact that I simply prefer and completely stan for cooking any and every meal in a cast iron skillet. Period. My adoration for cast iron skillets have tread full-force into an obsession and I love it. I’ve got sizes ranging from small to extra-gargantuan, regular, super-deep, it doesn’t even make any sense. The greatest thing about cast iron skillets is: I don’t care what it is and I don’t care how you want it made, a cast iron skillet will do it.
My grandmother gave me my first ever cast iron cookware a little over ten years ago. I remember hauling three from her back kitchen when she stopped me and asked if I wanted them. It was a little late by this point, but her words changed the entire situation from “stolen” to “given.” She warned me not to wash them, caring for them was important and they would last me a very long time.
My grandmother went on to tell me about the history of the skillets. She shared with me that the very ones in my hand were passed down from her grandmother, whom passed them to her mother. Instantly I found a sense of pride. I had actually acquired something from my great grandmother. Something tied to a passion each one of us shared. Also, made fact of the notion that if taken care of properly, can last forever.
For a while I would cook in just about anything. I would cook in skillets and pots made of aluminum, stainless steel and carbon steel. I’d cook in non-stick skillets, nonstick frypans, whatever. Being selective of types of cookware to use was hardly a thing to me. My cooking choices were simple: whatever I grabbed that would fit whatever I’m cooking. And, if I didn’t want to risk food sticking – I opted for nonstick.
I started to notice there were a few things I did not like about stainless steel skillets – like the way they stain if you burn oil or butter for too long. Nonstick skillets frustrated me even more, because over time the Teflon would flake into my food if it got too hot. Most times, I would grab any cooking utensil close by, causing ugly scratches in the coating. Too much.
It only took one article about toxic fumes and cancer being linked to the use of nonstick skillets. Instantly they were a thing of the past. Like anyone else who is guilty of taking something, running with it and avoiding any of my own research. I found it easier to just start using cast iron skillets for everything. That was two years ago. Now I have a whole host of reasons why I prefer to cook in glass, ceramic or cast iron only. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still use stainless steel cookware, but typically it’s to boil water, melt butter or chocolate in glass jars, reheat food, etc, etc.. But here’s why I believe cast iron skillets are the meilleur des meilleurs of cookware.
As mentioned, I have become obsessed with investing in cast iron skillets, simply because they last forever. There are few things greater than paying for a single item one time that lasts forever.
The oldest cast iron dates back to China as early as the 6th century, B.C. By the 16thcentury the cast iron skillet had become widely popular and was common in most households. Most, including my own, are passed down generations. Showing off not only their near indestructibility, but their ability to get better with age. Worst case scenario, if a cast iron skillet gets rusty – you can take a bristle brush or wire brush and start over by re-seasoning your skillet.
Cast irons are not pure elemental irons, but consist of various metals such as carbon, manganese, sulfur, silicon and phosphorus. Strong, heavy cast iron skillets will crack before they bend or dent and with proper care can last… forever.
Being that cast iron skillets are slow to heat, they are able to stay warm longer and withstand high temperatures of heat. Cast iron skillets can withstand temperatures as high as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit
Cast iron skillets can be used for everything! You can bake breads, cakes and pies. Cast irons can be used to sear a steak or fry chicken. Occasionally, you can make opt for a deep dish pizza or you can bake lasagna. Cast irons are used to make paninis, sear chicken and later put it in the oven to bake. Whatever your desires may be, a cast iron skillet can do it.
The greatest part about a cast iron skillet and its versatility is, the more you use it the better it becomes. My older cast iron skillets are so well seasoned that they are virtually nonstick.
Kindly note, I wouldn’t recommend cooking fried or salty foods out of the same cast iron skillet you bake your breads, cookies and cakes in. Also, it is not recommended to cook acidic foods in cast iron skillets – as the acidity in foods can be known to strip the seasoning from the skillets and leave your food with a metallic taste. However, my older cast iron skillets do not yield these results – to be cautious, use a dutch oven
Food cooked in a cast iron skillet simply tastes better! You are using less oils when cooking. Cast iron skillets distribute heat well and retain heat well. When using cast iron skillets in the oven, they tend to distribute heat evenly.
Cast iron cookware really shows off when it comes to frying, baking and roasting. Breads, like cornbread and pies cook evenly on the bottom. In ordinary cookware, my father taught me the trick of putting a pan of water directly underneath so your bottom turns golden instead of burning. With a cast iron skillet, you don’t even think twice about it.
People have reservations about cast iron cookware. Cast iron is different than most cookware. Cast iron is so special because it ages with time. Typical cookware is cleaned with soap and water. With cast iron skillets, soap and water prevent you from preserving your seasoning. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard you can’t put them in a dish washer or soak them in warm water. You can’t breathe on them at a 45 degree angle, whatever. Don’t let this discourage you. Cleaning a cast iron skillet is NOTas complicated as its made out to be.
WHEN FOOD GET’S STUCK
Use tools like a cast iron brush or scraper with short stiff bristles to gently clean corners and surfaces food can find its way into. Using brushes and scrubbers allow you to remove cooked on foods without soap or detergent. This helps to preserve your seasoning and the surfaces of your cast iron skillet.
If that doesn’t work, try boiling water in your cast iron skillet for a few minutes prior to cleaning to help loosen up the food.
WHEN FOOD OILS AND RESIDUE ARE STILL PRESENT
Create a paste using kosher grains of salt and warm water to gently scrub the surfaces of your cast iron skillet. Wipe with a damp, warm towel to remove the salt from your cast iron skillet and wipe dry.
Once you have cleaned out your cast iron skillet, take a small amount of oil and rub the surfaces of your cast iron skillet and voila! You’re done!
What about it! Clean that skillet and start over new! Never throw out a rusty cast iron skillet. The goal of the cast iron skillet is to preserve your seasoning. Rust only means you will be hitting the reset button on your investment and starting over fresh. This is the only scenario advisable to use soap and water to cleanse your cast iron skillet.
Use a fine steel wool soap pad (S.O.S pad, as an example) and scrub the cast iron until all the rust is gone. It is imperative that you scrub all surfaces, crevices and curves of the inside of the cast iron skillet. This step is important because once you are done, you will begin the seasoning process of your skillet and you want to start with a completely clean surface.
Rinse thoroughly. As thoroughly as thoroughly can be.
Immediately dry the cast iron skillet thoroughly. Every and all surface areas. Begin heating your oven at 350/400 degrees.
Use vegetable oil or olive oil and cover the entire surface of your cast iron skillet and place the cast iron upside down in your oven. Place a sheet of aluminum foil underneath to catch any dripping that will occur once the oil has heated up.
After 45 minutes to an hour, turn your oven off and let the cast iron rest until it has completely cooled down.
Cast iron restored.
Do you enjoy cooking out of a cast iron skillet? Have you ever?! Leave a message in the comments and share your experience with cast iron skillets!
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