Most people are becoming concerned about not just the food they eat, but how it’s prepared. When you make good, healthy, food at home, the last thing you want is for it to be tainted by cookware that leeches bad chemicals or contaminants into your food.
Cooking With Cast Iron
Cooking in a cast iron pan has a lot of advantages. While it’s merely OK as a heat conductor, its strength more than makes up for that – it retains heat like nobody’s business. A cast iron pan will stay hot for a really long time.
Once you finally do get it up to temperature, you shouldn’t have much trouble keeping it there. Cast iron can be taken from the stove top and put right into the oven. You can even transfer it to the grill, if you want to.
Since it’s pretty rugged, it will even find a home over open flame if that’s your thing. Basically, these types of pans are virtually indestructible. If you’re new to cast iron cooking, start out with a good 10-inch pan from a reputable store.
When you’re more experienced, look for vintage pieces.
The Benefits Of Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware should last you forever. An often overlooked benefit of cooking in cast iron is that it can become a supplemental source of iron if you ever cook acidic foods in it. When properly seasoned, the pan will be slicker than teflon, and yet easier to clean than most other types of pans, even stainless steel.
Cast iron is also more rugged than just about any other type of pan on the market. After you’ve seasoned it, it’s also relatively maintenance free. Most of the foods you think of as problematic, like eggs, will not stick to a properly-seasoned pan.
How To Take Care Of Your Cast Iron
Taking care of cast iron can be either terribly difficult or ridiculously easy. Most of the time, when you hear people speak of the ills of cast iron, it’s because they didn’t season it correctly. Most people do not know how to season cast iron. The usual directions – slather on a bunch of oil and cook it for 2 hours – is not seasoning. You don’t want to cook oil in the pan in the hopes that the oil will “absorb” into the metal.
You want to coat the oil lightly and then heat it sufficiently to cause polymerization. This simple “how to” will walk you through the steps. Make sure you’re using an edible drying oil high in ALA and that you’re not using too much oil. Check the seasoning periodically to make sure it’s fully intact and then keep your eye on it – once a year it should be redone.
Avoiding Teflon and Ceramics
You should avoid teflon and ceramics at all costs. Some newer cast iron is coated in ceramic, which sort of defeats the point of cast iron, but it also introduces a contaminant into your cooking surface – lead. Avoiding ceramics and teflon coatings will go a long way towards ensuring the health of you and your family.
Erin Perryman loves to cook using her cast iron cookware. An avid writer and home chef, she enjoys sharing her insights with others online. Look for her appetizing articles on a variety of websites and blogs.