I love cooking with cast iron. It took me a while to figure it out, so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself using it and it takes you a while to get the knack of it. Once you do, you’ll love it too. Here are just a few reasons why cooking with cast iron on the homestead is so great.
- They really aren’t that expensive. Look at the long-term investment; when you purchase cast iron, you will never have to purchase another pan again! Unlike artisanal and handcrafted cookware, it won’t lose its non-stick properties, won’t fade and won’t crack over time (unless it’s shocked with cold). Even a cast iron that’s left to the elements can be saved with a good scrubbing.
- Iron, it’s in the name! Cooking with cast iron can boost your iron intake. The iron leaches into your food as you’re cooking, but it doesn’t change the taste!
- A properly seasoned cast iron skillet is naturally non-stick. They aren’t coated with synthetic materials like other non-stick cookware. This means you don’t have to cook with any extra oil or butter. This makes for a healthier meal.
- Owning cast iron means that you can rid yourself of the ‘traditional’ non-stick cookware that may be toxic if it comes off in your food. It can also replace all your aluminum cookware that some believe poses health risks.
- It isn’t heirloom quality, it’s an heirloom on its own! Cast iron lasts forever, and the more you cook with it the better it gets.
- Cast iron retains heat! If you cook something and it takes the rest of the family 10 minutes to get inside and washed up before they can sit down and eat, you don’t have to worry about serving cold food. This is also great because when it’s really cold outside, you will be warm when cooking.
- You can use it for just about any kind of cooking. From making bread to sautéing mushrooms, braising a brisket, searing a steak or deep frying, you can do it all. And it can go from the stovetop to the oven to the table without ever having to change pans.
- It evenly cooks your food. You don’t have to deal with pans that only get hot in the center. Cast iron gets hot throughout, making for evenly cooked meals. I love making pancakes and frying eggs because they come out so perfectly. I also enjoy using them to make biscuits since the heat is so even they’re all beautiful.
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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need soap to clean cast iron. The best way to clean and season your cast iron is to use a metal spatula and scrape off any food particles. Heat the pan and apply oil: it is best to use a dense oil such as coconut oil, peanut oil or even lard. Spread the oil in a thin layer evenly throughout the pan. Let the pan cool and you’re done.
Many people will tell you to put the pan in the oven to 400 degrees for 30 minutes. You can do this if you wish but it is not always necessary. Heating the pan opens the pores in the iron. This allows the oil to enter the pores and absorb into the pan. When the pan cools, the pores close trapping the oil inside the pan while some stays on the surface. This is what makes cast iron non-stick.
My cast iron collection, while still small, proudly hangs on the wall next to the wood stove. I’m always looking for new pieces and can’t wait to add the next item to it!
What’ s your favorite thing about cast iron cookware?