Cast Iron-Not your Grandma’s Cookware!
When my husband first suggested we use cast iron cookware, I must admit, I was less than enthusiastic. I had once sold a large, beautifully seasoned skillet he had brought into the relationship (I believe his mother had passed it on to him) for $4 at a yardsale simply because I felt it was “too heavy”. It hurt my wrist to lift it. Well start working out then, girl! What a waste of a great pan!
Cookware is Pricey!
Have you priced pots, pans, skillets, or cookware collections? The stuff isn’t cheap. We used to buy individual pieces until my husband was seduced. Seduced by a famous Food Network diva and her set of brightly colored pans. Nevermind the set cost over $300. He insisted it was the last set we’d ever need.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Our cookware held up for about a year and a half and then the non-stick coating stopped doing its thing. Our daily breakfast of eggs began to cling stubbornly to the pan and simply became a nightmare to wash. The romance was over.
On to the Next Diva
Clearly, 2 egg-eating breakfast lovers couldn’t go on like this. Off to Target we went and my husband found a new diva to worship. This time would be different, he said. This time she’ll be around for the long haul. But alas, we experienced the same let down as before. I would almost rather throw away the pan than agonize over the cleaning. What gives? Are we that brutal on cookware? I mean we weren’t doing anything crazy with these pans!
The Lady of the Past
We could not afford to keep going through more sets of disappointing pans. We grabbed a 10 inch skillet here and there but we could never get the longevity we were looking for. Then my husband suggested we return to the days of the dinosaurs and buy some cast iron! Though reluctant, I gave in as I had read many articles about people being able to pass on the stuff from generation to generation. Could it be true? What about my delicate wrists?
We started out with a set of 3: a 10 inch, 8 inch, and 6 inch for about $30 on Amazon. According to the box they were pre-seasoned and ready to go. It did take some adjusting as I was used to Tephlon, but after some trial and error we discovered how to make the most of cast iron cooking. I’d like to share with you the most important lessons I learned.
1.Heat that baby up! Your cast iron should be preheated on the stove top for a few minutes before putting oil or food into it. Once good and hot you can add oil, give it a minute, then add your food.
2.Soap is not your friend. While it may go against everything you think you know about washing dishes, don’t use dish soap. It strips off the oil coating (seasoning) that is meant to live on the pan. This will reduce the non-stick properties. Instead, follow the steps outlined below (my grandma’s way of cleaning cast iron):
- Take the time to dry. Even if you usually toss your freshly washed pans in the dish rack and let the air do the drying for you, you should make the extra effort here. Towel dry your pan. Cast iron can rust and while a rusty pan can be saved, it’s much better to keep it out of that state in the first place.
- Slick ‘er up! Put a bit of oil suitable for high heat on a paper towel and rub a few drops into the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Store with care. Place your clean, oiled pan on a shelf or cupboard and don’t stack other pans on top of it. If you’re desperate for space and must stack, place a paper towel or rubber grippy pad between them to prevent damage.
It’s been my experience that our pans need reseasoning about every 6 months. This is not difficult (simple coat with oil, place upside down on a cookie sheet, and bake in your oven at 350 for about an hour, turn off and let cool in the oven) and well worth it because it’s like getting a new pan every time!
And They Lived Happily Ever After
Since our original 3 skillet purchase, our cast iron family has grown to include a Dutch oven (great for soups, stews, and chili) and a griddle (we use it for bacon and burgers). I must admit, the cast iron cooks beautifully, infuses our food with healthy iron, and best of all, we haven’t had to spend another dime on cookware for over 3 years. There was certainly a learning curve in the beginning but persistence (and lack of funds to run out and buy something different) paid off. I love my cast iron and nurturingly care for it as if it were my own offspring. I’m saving money, using a healthy alternative to Tephlon, and leaving a functional heirloom for my kids’ future. Oh, and did I mention my hulk-like wrists?