It’s time to graduate from the pots and pan set you got from your wedding registry, isn’t it? Are you wondering what you should get to replace them? I strongly encourage you to look at Cast Iron for your everyday use. Let me calm your fears and light a fire for all things Cast Iron when you read below… why I use a cast iron skillet.
Why Cast Iron?
I was first attracted to cast iron back in my college years. Honestly it was just a love of all things vintage at that point. I went through a “phase” I guess and tried it back then, but had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I just trashed my skillet because I had ruined it so bad (or so I thought). I get so mad at myself when I think of tossing that thing in the trash. Actually I did it twice, ugh! I can’t bare to think of it.
You see Cast Iron is NOT meant to be thrown away. You can fix it even if it looks unfixable.
Now I’m attracted to cast iron because of health benefits. In a world where plastic can cause cancer, and teflon can hurt animals and more, a mom has to look into keeping her children safe. So I did my research and came to find: Cast Iron is the HEALTHIEST option for cooking!
Cast Iron is Naturally Nonstick
Cast Iron, when cared for properly, is naturally nonstick. If a skillet is seasoned well (instructions below) and the pan is hot before you add food, there will be virtually no sticking. I love this feature! No one likes to clean up stuck on foods, am I right?
Now, I must say one of the hardest things to master is scrambled eggs without them sticking to the pan. There is an art to that, so if you’re new to Cast Iron… don’t start there!
When cooking with any skillet, but especially Cast Iron skillets, it is important that the skillet is heated thoroughly before adding any food. So even if your skillet is well seasoned, food will stick if you add cold food to a cold skillet.
Cast Iron Cooks More Better and Faster than any Other Skillet
The thing I love most about the Cast Iron is that it cooks our food so much better than any of our old skillets. A Cast Iron Skillet will not cook more evenly necessarily, but the pan does heat up as a whole faster. It heats up quicker than the average skillet which means less time, essentially, in the kitchen.
I cannot stress to you enough how easy it is to use cast iron. Everything tastes better from the cast iron and every meal tastes more homemade. I mentioned before about loving all things vintage, well that includes the vintage taste. The taste of a meal cooked using wholesome ingredients and wholesome cookware!
How Do You Take Care of a Cast Iron Skillet?
The easy part about Cast Iron Skillets are they typically come pre-seasoned nowadays. If you’re purchasing from the store or on Amazon, then you really have little to do in the beginning. But once you use it… that’s another story. In a nutshell, you NEVER want to use soap on it, and you ALWAYS want that sucker oiled up!
How to Wash a Cast Iron Skillet?
You can use water on your skillet no problem, but don’t use soap. Why? Because the soap washes away the oils in the skillet’s pores. You need that oil so the food won’t stick to the skillet. The other reason you don’t use soap is because your skillet soaks up the flavors of everything that touches it. I don’t like the taste of soap and can assume you probably don’t either.
Instead of soap and water, I typically use hot water and a plastic scraper. They’re extremely effective and very inexpensive. This is my method 95% of the time and I use our cast iron skillet at least once a day if not for every single meal I make.
Another method I use is Coarse Salt. When my skillet is not too messy, and maybe it’s seen too much water lately, I’ll literally pour a tablespoon or two of coarse salt on my skillet and use the scraper or a spatula, maybe even a wooden spoon, to scrape the stuck on foods away. The coarse salt removes the bits of food while also adding flavor to your pan. You just quite literally use the scraper or spatula to push and pull the salt around. That salt does the scrubbing for you.
If you are cleaning grease out of your skillet, then I suggest you don’t use any of these methods. Instead just simply pour out the grease and wipe away the excess with a paper towel.
Can I Use Anything Abrasive for Cleaning?
I wouldn’t. I would answer this question with a full forced, “No!” But others may say it is okay. I can typically use the scrapers to get everything off, but if you don’t have that you can use a Scotch Brite Sponge or a Vegetable Brush. The things you use will most likely turn black, so be aware of that when choosing what you want to clean it with.
How do I Dry a Cast Iron Skillet?
Let your skillet air dry completely before using it again. You can’t even begin to season it again (adding oil: see below) until your skillet is completely dry. Drying it with a towel will not make it dry enough either. You’ll want to allow it the time needed to air dry.
If you use it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner like I do, then I suggest not washing with water between every meal. This is when I’d use the coarse salt I mentioned above. Actually, just wiping it down between uses is highly recommended to help keep it seasoned.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet is as easy as putting lotion on your hands. As mentioned above all things cast iron need to be well oiled. You may use any oil of your preference in the process: olive, canola, shortening, Pam even (but I avoid Pam myself). Once your skillet is cleaned add a little bit of oil to your skillet and rub it in until it’s rubbed in on every part of it’s cooking surface. You can rub it on the outside too, and should periodically anyway, but for everyday use I focus mostly on the inside of the skillet.
Note: It’s tough to say how much oil you need because it depends on the oil and it depends on the skillet. Start with a small amount and gradually add more, but I’d say you will use about a Tablespoon.
After the oil is all rubbed in, the heat it up on the skillet for a minute or so. Be careful not to burn the oil. Then let cool before storing it. You can also place it in the oven on Warm for a 10 minutes or more. Many people actually store their cast iron in the oven because they warm them, turn the oven off, and let them cool inside.
My oil preference is Shortening! I rub it in with my hands, but you can use a paper towel as well.
How to Cook With a Cast Iron Skillet
Essentially, cooking with cast iron looks like this: Get out the skillet, and turn on the heat to about medium high (if your stovetop has numbers on the dial try a 7). Add just a tiny dab of some sort of fat (butter or oil). Then when the oil is sizzling add your ingredients.
If you’re cooking something that makes it’s own fat, then skip the oil/butter and just wait for the pan to heat up before adding in your food. My “tell” for when the pan is hot enough to add food is when the handle gets hot.
The most important step in how to cook with a cast iron skillet is to allow your skillet to heat thoroughly. Even bacon will stick if your pan isn’t hot enough.
It’s also good practice to allow your meats to rest at room temperature before cooking. Basically, do not take meat strait from the refrigerator and add it to your skillet (This is true for all skillets and all meats… again, it’s just best practice for general cooking).
What Should I Cook First in My Cast Iron Skillet?
My suggestion is some fatty bacon. The more grease you get on your skillet at first, the better.
Acidic Foods like Tomato Sauces aren’t highly recommended either, you can do this on occasion after you have a good base seasoning built up on your skillet. But I would suggest an Enamel skillet instead. This Enamel Skillet is actually a cast iron skillet with a porcelain coating. Porcelain is also a very safe option for cooking unless it becomes cracked.
Are you Ready to Start Cooking with Your Cast Iron Skillet?
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