I recently just came back to cooking with cast iron and I am now wondering why the hell did I ever leave in the first place.
I cooked some eggs over easy and was quite amazed at how well they turned out and didn’t stick to the pan at all. So, I cooked all week with it. Putting it through the ringer with everything I cooked for that entire week.
How to really tell what something is really worth? When someone dies, see what people want. I bet you most people will grab the old cast iron over most of the current non-stick cookware when a relative passes over.
Why do you think that is?
Well, I believe it is because cast iron is tried and tested for centuries and when properly seasoned it works phenomenally. With many benefits over the modern non-stick cookware. There is always a shift back to traditional ways when the modern methods fail us. Sure there are downsides to cast iron BUT…the upsides far outweigh the downsides in my opinion. Plus cast iron is just cool. It looks great hanging in the kitchen or even just sitting on top of the stove.
This was the case for me as well, as I grew up with my family using cast iron and even my wife and me using it for a few years. But for some reason we got away from using it, thinking that non-stick was where it was at. But how wrong were we?
I love cooking with cast iron and I think you will too.
Benefits of Cooking With Cast Iron Skillet
- Gives a phenomenal sear to steaks or any meat, way better than non-stick.
- The most versatile workhorse of any other pan out there. Try to name one, you can’t.
- By far and away a cheaper in the short and long term than non-stick pans.
- Once it is heated up, nothing retains the heat like cast iron does. That is why you see a restaurant serve you a steak or fajita in a cast iron skillet as it retains a lot of the heat and keeps your food warm during the entire meal.
- Can be used under just about any heat source, stove ( gas or glass or heating element), oven, on the grill and over a campfire.
- The more you use it and properly take care of it the better it performs. Win freaking win!!!
- Low maintenance. Really easy to care for.
- Cast iron just has a nostalgic look to it as well as a coolness factor hard pressed to attain with a modern non-stick skillet.
- You can also start cooking on the stove than easily and finish off in the stove within the same cooking container.
- Tough as nails. You can easily find old cast iron pans and skillets at antique shops and garage sales. Why is this? Because cast iron last a long time.
- Can be passed down through the family. Unlike non-stick which eventually chips and starts to peel.
- Can be re-seasoned almost endlessly if left to rust. Built to last.
- Won’t flake harmful chemicals into your food like non-stick pots and pans do. As cast iron uses no harmful chemicals in order to have a non-stick surface in which to cook upon.
- Cooking with cast iron will add iron to your diet. As a fair amount of people are actually iron deficient and cooking with cast iron can help that.
- Looks great hanging in the kitchen or just laying around on top of the stove.
- Transfer heats really well, as opposed to other types of cookware.
- Cooks a wide range of foods from steaks to even cakes. What? Yeah…cakes.
Disadvantages of Cast Iron
- Doesn’t heat evenly, this can be worked around by simply letting it heat up for 10 minutes or so. Maybe even rotating during the preheat.
- Adequate time must be used for heating the cast iron, usually, this is 5 to 10 minutes. Failure to do this can cause food to stick and not cook as good either.
- Heavy! It is the heaviest of all pans. and usually requires two handles to safely handle.
- Highly susceptible to rust if not cared for properly.
- Lots of myth and false information surrounding cast iron. People have a lot of misconceptions about cast iron, sometimes almost mystical.
- Might be prone to burning yourself as cast iron retains heat great. Use pot holders or handle holders to avoid this.
- Not recommended for cooking acidic food like tomatoes and such with long cooking time. It’s fine for quickly cooking but not for tomato sauces that require long cook times.
What Is The Best Cast Iron Cookware?
Lodge – You can find this one just about anywhere and it is made in the good ole USA. They are made of quality steel and care. Can’t really go wrong with a Lodge.
Utopia Kitchen – Another well made cast iron cookware with a large cooking surface.
Finex – This is also an updated redesign of the old classic cast iron skillet, with many improved upon features. Has a
Le Creuset – A great manufacturer of high quality enameled cast iron with many color choices other than the standard black. A general consensus is that Le Creuset makes the best-enameled cast iron cookware.
Stargazer – A modern take on cast iron with many little improvements over the classic design. A recent startup company through a Kickstarter campaign. You can order their pans but won’t deliver til August of 2017.
Zelancio – A newer company based out of California which delivers heavy and brightly covered enamel cast iron that is more on an affordable budget.
Tips On Using Cast Iron
Get a cast iron comal! You just can’t have just one! Once the cast iron bug hits you will want more, trust me. There that great. I recently just bought a Lodge cast iron griddle (comal) to specifically heat up my tortillas for burritos and fajitas. I am a sucker for Mexican and love the low sides for easy heating up of tortillas. This is great for meats as well and pancakes, french toast and more. They are really versatile as well. A nice addition to your cast iron collection.
It is generally agreed upon that if you buy your cast iron new or even used sometimes, even when it is stated that it is already seasoned, that you should season it a couple of times more. This will improve the cast iron, as you can lay down a few more protective layers to improve upon it.
What is the best oil for seasoning cast iron? There is a lot of confusion what is the best oil for seasoning cast iron. Flaxseed oil is the winner, folks. Gives the smoothest finish and hardest finish of anything other edible oils out there. For the best possible results, it must be 100% flaxseed. A good way to tell is that is flaxseed oil needs to be refrigerated in order for it not to go rancid. Also, make sure it is organic as well. Flaxseed can be expensive but is worth it in the long run and you don’t really need all that much.
Avoid buying cast iron made in China. Sorry, I hate to discriminate but I don’t see quality coming out of China for most things and steel and iron are notoriously bad quality sources. Stick with a good USA brand.
Use a good quality stainless steel spatula with your cast iron. Dexter makes a high-quality spatula and can be found on Amazon. It makes cooking with cast iron that much more enjoyable. I don’t miss using the plastic spatulas, as over time the ends melt and not as sharp as when they were new. Unlike steel spatula which is always sharp.
Never run a hot cast iron pan under cold water this can potentially crack your cast iron. Always have the hottest setting for water when washing your hot or warm pan.
Have two different cast iron frying pans for different types of meat. One for frying steaks, chicken, beef, pork (bacon or chops) etc. The other one for frying fish. Why is that? Sometimes the pan retains the smell of the fish and can carry over when cooking other types of meats.
Buy some handle holders that are specifically designed to fit on the cast iron panhandle. These are really handy and you can buy them in leather, silicone or a cloth material for saving you burning your precious hand. I usually just put one on right away to avoid me forgetting about it and burning myself.
This shouldn’t be used at all for boiling water as this will cause it to rust.
Also, avoid cooking stir fry’s as the heaviness of cast iron is not designed for this style of cooking.
Avoid using dishwashers and metal scouring pads when cleaning your cast iron.
When cooking meat, just like cooking on the grill don’t keep messing with the meat let it sit and cook. Pay attention to the brown crust on the edges of the meat, this is the indicator that it is ready to flip. Usually, the meat will easily come off the cast iron when the crust has formed.
It easier to clean the pan when it is still hot or warm and you shouldn’t really wait til it is cooled down to clean it.
Cast Iron Wrap Up
I just love all the benefits of using cast iron, and I think the negatives do not outweigh the positives benefits of using cast iron to cook with.