If it is true that everything old is new again, cast iron pans are the newest thing. Cast iron has been used by cooks for centuries, but with the advent of non-stick pans, the use of cast iron had been put on the back burner, literally. But with our move last summer, I rediscovered a cast iron pan that had been in our shelves for years. I dusted it off, began to use it, and haven’t used my non-stick pans in months.
Cast iron was the original non-stick cookware, and although certainly not the most modern of materials, it cannot be beat for cooking. And while I thought I knew how to use my cast iron pans, I’ve learned a lot from others over the past months that I want to share as my Tuesday’s Tip for the week.
*If you are fortunate enough to have a cast iron pan, and haven’t used it yet, be sure to “season” it with oil before you use it the first time. If you give your pan a quick, heavy coat of oil on the cooking surface and place it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, the pan will be ready to roll. The oil helps encourage the cast iron’s natural non-stick properties.
*This is important: cast iron pan handles get hot! Purchase one of those handy little hot pads that can fit on the handle to prevent burns.
*Do not wash the pan with soap or in the dishwasher. Cast iron is porous, and therefore any soap you use to clean it will be absorbed into the pan. Clean it merely with water and a sponge. For stubborn food grime, fill the pan with a bit of water and bring to a boil.
Once the water is very hot, use a scrubber to remove any grime from the pan.
*When you clean the pan with water, be sure to fully dry it as well. Iron will rust if you let it air dry, although I know from personal experience a little bit of rusting can be easily removed with a rag.
*The more you use a cast iron pan, the smoother and more non-stick it will become. I’ve seen cast iron pans that are almost glass-like in the cooking surface.
With these tips, you are ready to embark on the cast iron adventure of cooking!