Cast iron is the original non-stick cookware, and if cared for properly, will last for generations. Any well-stocked kitchen will benefit from at least one piece of cast iron. If you are lucky, you will inherit grandma's old skillet and all of the memories along with it.
Wash the protective coating off all new pieces of cast iron with warm soapy water and season them before use. To season it, warm a pan in a 225 degrees F oven, remove it and wipe a thin coating of vegetable oil or lard over all surfaces. Place it back in the oven for 1 hour, and then wipe almost all of the excess oil off with paper towels. Return it to the oven again for another 30 minutes.
Preheat cast iron before cooking in it. Heat the pan until a droplet of water balls up and pops around in the pan. These pans cook hotter than some; therefore, you will probably use a lower heat setting when cooking.
Cook anything in cast iron. Acidic foods such as tomatoes will darken if left too long in the pan. This is due to the iron seeping out. If you need extra iron in your diet, cooking with cast iron is one way to get it.
Let you pan cool completely after using, then wash with warm soapy water. Some experts say to only use water, but oil left on the pan after cooking food may become rancid if not removed. After washing, place it over low heat to dry. Apply a very light coating of oil on the surface of the pan before storing.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have an old piece of cast iron, remove any rust with steel wool and season it before use.
- If food begins to stick while cooking, it needs to be seasoned again. The more a cast iron pan is used, the more seasoned it becomes.
- Always wash your cast iron by hand, dry it thoroughly and store it with the lids off so moisture will not cause it to rust.
- Do not pour a large amount of water in a hot pan. This could cause the cast iron to crack.
- Cast iron is heavy and gets very hot. Use pot holders and be very cautious when moving it from one place to another.
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