There are so many great post out there about the Pros and Cons of using Cast Iron when cooking. I have battled with either sharing a bunch of other peoples blog entries or just give you the highlights of why “I” use cast iron. To be honest, it has been a love hate relationship over the years. But, I think we have made progress with our cooking relationship and I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned along the way.
My mom and dad had a cast iron skillet that they cooked with regularly when I was growing up. I still think my moms hamburgers from the skillet are the best! But when I got older, I started hearing all these things that we were doing wrong with our skillet. It was one of those situations where I thought to myself “That isn’t how we did it. These people are nuts!” One of those things was washing the skillet with soap. You hear ALL THE TIME to NEVER NEVER NEVER wash your skillet with soap. Let me tell ya, you can use soap. We did all the time. In fact, EVERY time we washed the skillet we used soap. Now with this rule I will say this. My mom and dad’s skillet was VERY WELL CONDITIONED! I have newer cast iron and I use soap when cleaning all of them. Just after they are washed, I heat the skillets on the stove top to open the pores in the skillet and then I take a good amount of lard or oil or fat (whichever you prefer) and I coat the skillet. The pores open up in the cast iron when it gets hot and the oil gets absorbed into the skillet. I then let the skillets cool and then store in the oven or where ever. Easy Peasy!
There are many benefits to using cast iron. Not that I am much for camp fire cooking, but they are safe on open fires. The best form of cast iron to use is a Dutch Oven. They are also known as Camp Ovens. The cast iron welcomes the fire. A HUGE plus is the cast iron heats and cooks evening. So whether you cook on an open fire, oven or stove top, every inch of the cast iron is the same temperature for even heating and cooking. Some other benefits to cast iron is that they last FOREVER! I have never heard of anyone saying “Ya know, My cast iron skillet died and I need a new one.” A good seasoned cast iron skillet makes a great family heirloom! A great place to buy cast iron is at auctions, resale shops, and yard sales. There is a good chance those skillets have been broken in from extensive use. If you can’t find used cast iron, you can usually find good deals on line. I bought my 6 piece cast iron set from amazon on sale for about $60. (Looks like that deal is no longer valid, but here is a similar set of cast iron.) I know they have that deal from time to time. Just keep an eye out. Yes, buying new can be a pain in the butt when it comes to getting the skillets seasoned. But when you finally have that well seasoned skillet, it is a victory like no other. You have truly accomplished something if you have seasoned a new skillet. Once you have a well seasoned skillet, it will become your favorite NON-STICK cook ware! A good starter skillet to have is a 10 or 12 inch skillet. They are big enough for most families now a days. I think one of my favorite things about my skillet is that when you cook with your skillet you food automatically becomes richer in iron. Some may find that gross. But if I have to have anything leach into my food from my cooking pan, I would rather it be IRON and not TEFLON! At least we know that iron is safe!
So what do I hate about the cast iron cook ware? Really there is only one thing I hate about it. IT IS SO HEAVY!!!! But to be honest, the good out weighs the bad (see what I did there?). So, if you ever run across a good seasoned skillet or if you are up for the challenge of breaking in a cast iron skillet, I recommend you give cast iron a try.