Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Caring for Your Cast Iron

There's nothing like cooking with well-seasoned cast iron cookware. It's one of the few products still in high demand and with proper care can last for a hundred years or more. It's definitely an investment that can be passed on from one generation to another. Cast iron retains heat very well and cooks evenly, too. I've even heard that the iron from the pans leach into the food eaten, thereby giving needed iron into the diet.

I use mine for just about everything from stews to cornbread to scrambled eggs. The one above is my very first. Isn't it a beauty? I found it at a thrift store for $5 and I snatched it right up because cast iron isn't always easy to find. I was a little intimidated by cast iron because I wasn't very familiar with it until I found out how easy it is to take care of.

I was able to visit the Lodge Cast Iron Store in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, last fall when we were visiting my mom. She bought a cast iron skillet or pot for each of my daughters and she bought herself and me each a Dutch oven.

So, how do I take care of this kind of pan? It isn't the same as nonstick or aluminum or glass cookware, but the rules are very easy to follow. You may think at first that it's too much bother but they are such a dream to work with and they last for-ev-er-you will love them as much as I do.

Lodge cast iron is seasoned when you buy it, so taking care of it properly means remember a few simple rules:
  1. After cooking, clean the pan with hot water and a stiff brush. Never use harsh detergents and don't put it into very cold water.
  2. Towel dry the pan and wipe a light coat of cooking spray or oil all over it.
  3. Store in a cool dry place.

If you find an old cast iron pan, you may have to "season" it because it wasn't properly taken care of and it may have some rust on it. That's okay, you will just have to take care of that before you use it.

According to the Lodge Company to season cast iron:
  1. Wash the pan with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush.
  2. Rinse and dry completely.
  3. Spread a thin coat of oil, any kind all over the entire surface of the pan.
  4. Line the lower oven rack with aluminum foil (to catch drippings).
  5. Heat the pan for 30 to 60 minutes upside down in a 350-degree oven. Once done, let the pan cool to room temperature.

Keep your eyes peeled at second-hand stores for cast iron. They are worth waiting for.


Linda Sue said...

Cast iron cookware is a great choice. It lasts generations. I have some that was my grandmother's cookware, and love to use it. Garage and yard sales are great places to get cast iron cookware, too. Not long ago, my dad found a Griswald skillet that was at least 50 years old. Still works great. Unfortunately, he won't part with it, so it isn't in my kitchen. LOL.

Sandra said...

I LOVE my cast iron. I found one at a yard sale and it looked bad and my kids thought I was crazy. But I brought it home and cleaned it up and I've been using it for years now.

Christine said...

I really appreciate your new blog. You won't fine me in the kitchen very often but when I am, I want to cook something that is good, easy, and reliable. I look to you now, for all my creative cooking.
Thanks for doing this for me. My family (when they stop by for a meal, also appreciates it.