Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cooking with Cast Iron

I am a cast iron super fan. I was raised on it and it's the first thing I bought when I grew up.

Here is my lot: One Dutch oven with a lid, one 16 inch skillet, two 10 inch skillets, 2 smaller sized skillets that I rarely use, and one tea pot that I use constantly. Besides this group of pots and pans I only use a big steel soup pot and a crepe pan (for everything that's not fussy baking). Though I more often bake in the cast iron than anything else.

Most of my cast iron is the Lodge brand and I did read their instructions for the care of the pans. But I don't follow all of them (probably not even close). I use cast iron because it's super versatile and pretty much indestructible. And in my opinion, it's gotten a bad rap for being either unsanitary or difficult to care for. When I'm worried about germs, I use soap. And all I do to care for them is use oil or butter or both as often as possible when I cook (which I do anyways!). If not, I grease them up a little before hanging them up. And that's it!

Cast iron pans and pots can be used when browning, baking, broiling, roasting, grilling...you name it. On the stove, in the oven, over a campfire, in the camp fire. Thia food, Indian food, fried food, pancakes, soups, stews, cakes, sauces. I could go on. For pages.



Here's my best loved! I use this tea pot every single day, usually twice. I am a hard core tea addict and am out stomping for its' health benefits whenever I'm not busy doing something else.

















Here's a few tips:

When you buy new cast iron (still gray), grease up the whole pan with olive oil (or flax seed oil is said to be best) and put it upside down in the oven with something under it to catch drips. Crank the oven up to 425F and bake it for an hour. Let it cool mostly then give it a good rub with paper towel.

Cook with a good amount of fat in the pan when they're new. Don't wash with soap unless you really need to. The only time I use soap is when I make crispy salmon or taco meat and maybe chili. Those flavors tend to linger. Besides that, I rarely need soap. Keeping the pans a little greasy is a good idea. That's what they call "seasoning" and you will end up with a beautiful black non-stick pan in no time.

I store mine hanging from hooks on a wall. I never towel dry them, though they say to or they'll rust. Hanging them works for me. Dry them if they're being stored in a cupboard.

If your pans rust up and it can't just be wiped off with a damp towel, scrub the spot with a mix of coarse salt and oil. Or if they're rusted super badly, you can use sand paper or steel wool.


One of the best things about using cast iron pans is how easy they move from the burner to the oven. I do this all the time! It makes for good food. One of the worst things about cast iron is the handles and bottoms stay really hot for a while. I've burned not only my hand but counters, floors, rugs, no kidding.

Here's my all time favorite recipe that relies on cast iron: Flying Dutchmans. Though I have many more up my sleeve - check in next week for another of my favorite uses for this crazy awesome cookware!

Enjoy your day!

28 comments:

  1. Thanks! I've been using my cast iron more and more, but I'm unsure of how to move between a grilled salmon and an apple dutch pancake - problems with lingering flavours!

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  2. I have that problem too! I always use a mild soap after cooking salmon, then coat it in a little olive oil before storing. I also have 2 of the 9 inch pans and find myself giving them a sniff test before choosing which I use. I guess I tend to use one for savory and one for baking.

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  3. I too am a cast iron superfan! I love the stuff and use it almost exclusively. I never use soap but I heat them up after washing and put in a little oil and heat till really hot and rub with a paper towel. I love to use my small pans for making that egg for a mcmuffin in the morning. My cast iron is far more non-stick than my "non-stick" pans. Try baking bread in your dutch oven. There are lots of recipes out there. It makes such a yummy crust.
    Love your blog!!

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  4. Thanks Stan! I have baked bread in my dutch oven from an awesome recipe in Cooks Illustrated! You're right, the crust was really something. Thanks for checking out my blog :)

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  5. I used to love using cast iron cookware, but now have a ceramic top stove. Can I used it on this type of stove? I would love to get back into using my cast iron. Thanks for your ideas and tips.

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    1. Thanks for the question, Shannon! You can definitely use the cast iron on any type of stove top if the bottom of your pan is fairly smooth (doesn't have rust burrs) and I would be kind of careful not to slide the pan around a lot or it could scratch your stove. You can also sand the bottom of your pans smooth if they are not. Happy cooking!

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    2. Thank you so much Hannah for the info. I'm new here and will be back. Love what you have to say. Can't wait to dig out my old cast iron. Thanks again.

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  6. You can buy the already seasoned kind now which hopefully will promote the use of cast iron by more folks. I never use soap but I use kosher salt to give then a nice scrubbing, boiling water rise, dry really well and then oil it down, wipe out excess and I'm good to go for the next time. Love, love, love cast iron. Excellent blog post by the way.

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    1. Thanks so much! Already seasoned cast iron...awesome!

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  7. Awesome post!! I love love love my cast iron! My grandmother used it, my father uses it, and I have learned from them to use it, too! There honestly isn't a day that goes by that I don't use at least one! :) I never use soap on mine, just hot water and scrubbing, and that is only if I don't clean it right away. I am always on the lookout for old pieces at garage sales, too, because they are so easy to clean up and make beautiful again!

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    1. Thanks! I never thought of it that way, but I guess it runs in my family, too!

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  8. Your blog helps in knowing the usage techniques of caste iron pans and also tips for preventing iron pans for long time. gray iron casting
    also involved in manufacturing of iron pans.
    regards,
    Joshua

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  9. You have quite a collection there! I like the dual 10" size and I wish I could add another to the collection. How much does the 16 incher weigh?

    I have a couple vintage #3 size skillets which isn't super useful for stovetop cooking. However, it's great to use on the grill to heat up this or that while grilling. Even better, I use the little skillets to serve food in. I preheat them just a bit so they can keep the food warm while you eat it...just like when you order fajitas at a restaurant.

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    1. That's a good idea to use cast iron to keep things warm! I never thought of that. I pretty much use my 10 inch skillets 90 percent of the time. The 16 inch pan is heavy, especially when it's full of food! I've tweaked a muscle in my back pulling it from the oven before. Thanks for the comments!

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  11. I have a question about using a cast iron teapot. We use it primarily in our fireplace when our power goes out (which is unfortunately often). What's the best way to care for it since water is boiled in it? Should I still use oil to season? Will that make the water for the tea and coffee taste funny? Thanks

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    1. Thank you for your question! With my teapot, I only oil the outside when it's really dry, probably for cosmetic reasons more than anything. And I don't oil the inside. I give it a good scrub with a bristle brush and water every so often, and I use the small end of a bottle scrubber to clean the crusties out of the spout.

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  12. You can buy a silicone cover that slips easily over the handle to prevent accidental burns. Mine is always on my pan.

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  14. Thanks for nice sharing. You can also find best Cast Iron material at Laxmi Iron & Steel Industry. The main object of LAXMI IRON & STEEL INDUSTRIES is to provide best quality and cost effective Cast Iron. For more information Visit Grey Iron Casting.

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  15. Coarse salt, a little bit of water and some paper towel works great too.

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  16. It is very nice to cook in Foundry with High Pressure Moulding Lines cook ware as these are very hard and easily heat up and make super tasty food. Actually these are made in Gray Iron Casting
    which give them solidity.

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  17. I have used this cookware for years. I gave my daughter my old dutch oven and then missed it so much I bought a new Lodge one. Here is my problem, I washed as recommended and seasoned it as I normally would. Fried some bacon, which is one of the first things I always did when using a new pan. Week or so later I made chicken & biscuits, the food tasted just fine, but it was grey!! Every time I wipe it down with oil the paper towel comes back black. Any ideas?

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    1. I have seen this before in new pans. I believe it's the iron leeching out into the food. I guess that if you use the pan for frying a few more times and wipe it down well between uses, it will develop that blackened layer soon. Sometimes the black "crust" is more of a sticky goo that I have to scrub off when seasoning a pan. I will say, when I wipe down my pans with a paper towel the towel usually comes out pretty dark. Even on the seasoned pans. They continue to bleed iron forever, I believe, since I remember hearing that cast iron pans actually supplement your food with iron.

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    2. Thank you for your response. I have read several articles about cooking with cast iron being beneficial to your health. I think you are right about being diligent in continuing to season the pan.

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  18. I have a question. I have a small Dutch oven. It is seasoned well. When I use it the food gets darker than it should. I clean the Dutch oven after cooking, rub it with oil and use high heat to season. Why is it doing this? It is LODGE.

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    1. I am wondering if by the food getting darker than it should- do you mean discolored or browning/burning? I am guessing you mean discolored and that if your pan is seasoned you could probably stop rubbing the oil on it as often or at all unless it looks dry. The oil gets built up and kind of waxy and comes off on the food if you use it too much. I only oil mine when the pan is looking really dry. Hopefully that helps!

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