How To Cook With and Care for Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron pans and skillets have been around for centuries. They are one of the best cooking tools that chefs of any skill level should have in the kitchen. Unlike most things, the cast iron skillet gets better over time. The more you use it, the more flavor it acquires. It’s highly durable, it’s completely versatile, and super easy to clean. Everyone should own at least one of these pans.
Benefits to Cast Iron
- Infuses Food With Iron: If you struggle with getting enough iron in your diet, then using a cast iron is good way to bolster your iron intake. It’s not a huge amount of iron, but small particles do transfer to the food. We need iron in our bodies to carry oxygen to the rest of our body. Cooking with a cast iron skillet definitely beats taking an iron supplement any day.
- Tastes Better: Over time, the pans become “seasoned” with all of the flavors that you’ve used in previous meals. With each use, you are making the pan better and better.
- Durable: Cast iron pans are heavy duty, which means they will stand up to being banged around. They stand the test of time, and can even be given new life when they become rusted over.
- Heat Doesn’t Fluctuate: Once the pan becomes hot, it stays hot. The heat is distributed over the entire surface, and cooks evenly.
When cooking with cast iron, be aware that the entire pan will be hot–handle included. You can buy a small mit that goes over the handle so you can touch the handle if needed. The pan will be heavy, which doesn’t make it optimal for tossing food around by slinging the pan. Use a wood spoon to move the food around. Metal will scar the surface, and plastic runs the risk of melting. While cooking, use a form of oil to keep the food for sticking to the pan. Cover the pan, and let the food cook as normal.
When you have finished cooking, move the pan off of the heat, and let it sit for a little while. You want to clean the pan while it is still warm but not hot. Rinse your pan under warm water. If there is anything stuck on it, use a washcloth, coarse salt, or a brush to remove stubborn pieces. You don’t want to use any soap on the pan. This will strip it of the oils and flavor that you’ve been acquiring. Once the pan is clean, dry it off to keep it from rusting. Dab a small amount of oil in the center of the pan, and rub it in with a paper towel to have it ready for the next time you cook.
Even the simplest of dishes can come out tasting amazing from the seasoning of the pan. You’ll look like an expert chef by pulling out your cast iron. Get comfortable using this pan, and you’ll never go back to teflon.