29 July, 2019
Why Use Cast Iron Pans? – Benefits, Tips and Uses
My first pieces of cast iron came from my mother-in-law who gave them to my husband before she passed away. I didn’t think I would like using cast iron because I heard it was hard to clean, I didn’t know how to season them and I thought they would stick. So, my husband showed me how to use them and that is when I fell in love with cast iron. Since then, I and have started a nice collection.
Over the years I have tried different kinds of pans, including Teflon, but I have always returned to my cast iron and usually because the Teflon skillet wore out so quickly. I only got 1 -2 years use out of any other pan, 3 at the most. I have had my oldest piece of cast iron for over twenty years, and I’m not sure how long my mother-in-law had it before me. That is a lot of uses for one pan and it is still being used!
There are also a lot of conflicting opinions on whether Teflon is safe to use. So, instead of taking chances, I am sticking with my cast iron!
My husband and I have started a new tradition. As our children get older and leave our home to make their own home, we are purchasing them their first piece of cast iron. Usually a skillet. My oldest daughter has her skillet from us already and we have two more skillets waiting to be given away. I have three kids who are “old enough”, 18 and over, to move out. I don’t think anyone is going anywhere soon!
Cast Iron Benefits
- Cast iron maintains its heat when cooking. You can set the skillet off the heat and your food will continue to cook, or stay warm for a long time. Just be careful to not over cook your food.
- Cast Iron last almost forever! It is very hard to destruct. Since it can withstand very high heat, you cannot burn it up. You might be able to ruin it with extreme heat, like a house fire, but under normal uses you are not going to ruin it. My husband has had his glowing red in an open fire. The worst thing is to let your cast iron get rusty but even then, you can bring it back to life.
- You can use cast iron on just about any cooking surface. I think there is a newer stove top that says not to use cast iron. I’m not sure why, but I like my cast iron so much that I would not purchase one of those. Cast iron can go from the stove top to the oven, and can even be used on an open fire for camping, etc.
- Cast iron can help reduce iron deficiencies. Iron deficiency symptoms include:fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, shortness of breath, headaches, weakness, pale color, anxiety, restless legs, to name a few. A study from US Nationional Library of Medicine showed that food cooked for preschooler’s snacks in an iron pot had an increase of 16.2% iron. The children themselves had an increase of 7.9% hemoglobin.
- Not expensive. You can purchase one nice skillet between the price range of $25 – $50. That isn’t bad for a skillet that you will have for a lifetime “and” be able to pass it on from generation to generation.
- Increases Muscle. Because cast iron is heavy, you will have a natural way to build upper body strength. No need to go to the gym!
What To Cook In Your Cast Iron
You can cook literally anything in your cast iron. The only thing you want to be careful with is acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus. Make sure your cast iron is well seasoned before cooking with these kinds of foods because acid can eat iron. But, when you have a good seasoning, these things are fine to use.
Cast iron is good for:
steaks – you get a great sear with cast iron!
- frying chicken
- quiche or frittatas
- whole chickens – I use my dutch oven for this.
- Cakes – We have done pineapple upside down cake in a dutch oven over open flame!
- Any recipe that starts on the stove and then finishes in the oven.
- These are just a few suggestions!
Most people that I have talked to are intimidated by cast iron because of the care and cleaning. It really is not that hard to do!
My daughter recently cooked eggs in my medium cast iron skillet. I think it was a type of quiche she made for her lunches for work. She left the skillet on the stove overnight for “me” to clean. Typical adult children!
Here are pictures of the cooked, dried on egg that was left overnight.
1. I put it in my soapy water and used a flat scraper to go around it. (Yes, you can use soap on cast iron!) It only took a couple of minutes to have it completely cleaned.
2. Next I dried it very well with a dry towel. Do not let water set in your cast iron because that is what will cause it to rust. Another way to dry it is to put it back on the stove, on a medium to medium high heat for about 5 minutes. This will dry it out.
3. The last step is to take a paper towel and coat it with a small amount of cooking oil. I used peanut oil because that is one of the oils I like to cook with. Rub this oil all over the pan till it is nice and shiny. This will keep your cast iron seasoned.
Here are a few sets to get you started. One of the nice things is that cast iron is now being sold already seasoned. You used to have to do this before using it. I think it is great that companies are taking this step out and making sure people get them already seasoned. One less thing to worry about! Get yours today or purchase a set for that special someone who likes cooking for the holidays!
10 inch skillet By Lodge – Pre-seasoned and ready for use!
Lodge Skillet Bundle – Includes 12 inch skillet, 10.25 inch skillet, and a 8 inch skillet. A Great starter pack!
Lodge 5 Piece Bundle – Includes 10.5″ griddle, 8 inch skillet, 10.25 ” skillet, Dutch oven and 10.25 ” lid.
Organization Rack – Holds up to 50 pounds
I would love to hear your opinion of cast iron! Do you have a favorite piece? Do you have a favorite food you like cooking in cast iron? How about tips that I didn’t cover? Feel free to answer these question in the comment section below.
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