Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cooking with Cast Iron


Last summer my non stick skillet started flaking.  I was disappointed.  It was a very expensive skillet.  We decided to replace it with a cast iron skillet for several reasons.  First, it was a budget friendly $35.   Score!  Second, It does not contain PFOA (PFOA is a carcinogenic which will be taken out of non stick cookware by 2015.  It was 2011 when I needed to purchase a skillet so that was no help to me.)   It also adds iron to our diet.  A pan that adds a mineral to our diet, how great is that?

Cast iron is not as complicated to work with as I feared.  The main issue is keeping food from sticking so that there is not a problem cleaning the pan off.  Cast iron is like stoneware, and soap or abrasives cannot be used to clean it.  I have learned a few extra tricks to make using cast iron a little easier.
Scrambled eggs in a cast iron skillet!
 

·         Oil the pan well.   To create a no stick surface I melt butter or coconut oil at the bottom of the pan.  A spay oil just does give enough coverage.   I also don’t want too much oil, that just makes the food too greasy. 

·         Preheat the oil.  I let the pan and oil get nice and hot before I add any food especially before cooking something like eggs.  The way that I think about it is that I am cooking the food on a thin layer or hot oil. 

·        Boil off stubborn, stuck on food.  If-no when food ends up sticking the easiest way to get rid of stubborn food is to boil it off.  I don’t waste a lot of my time scrubbing pans.  I would rather be cooking in them then cleaning them!  After letting the water boil for a few minutes anything that was stuck scrapes right off!  I also boil clean the pan if I am going to cooking anything like a white sauce that I don’t want to have a brown tint to it. 

·        Dry the pan completely after cleaning.  Cast iron will rust.  I felt like the Boxcar Children once taking sandpaper to my pan to remove the little orange rust ring!
 

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I only have one. My small pan is stainless steel. My small s.s. cost more than my large cast iron!

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  2. We just recently have been utilizing cast iron skillets. I still don't quite feel like I have the hang of it, but we are getting there and so far love it!

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    1. Keep trying. You will get it and then you will really like it! :)

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  3. We cook with cast iron dutch ovens (charcoal on the top and bottom). This weekend we went camping and made pork loin roast with tomatoes, fresh garlic, chili peppers, and onion. It was fantastic! We also make Mountain man breakfast (sausage, hash browns, eggs and cheese) and pineapple upside down cake. My husband is the scout leader and his troop won 1st prize for their meatloaf. So fun! We do end up using the parchment liners for some meals to make the clean up easier out in the elements.

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    1. Yum! That sounds great! I don't think that parchent would work for frying, but I have also had great luck with using cheap salt as a dry scrub to get out anythink left in the pan.

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  4. My mom had a cast iron pan we got from her grandmother and I remember getting scolded for not cleaning it properly. Now she uses it for decor instead of cooking. But I asked for a set of cast iron cookware for Christmas this year. I like that you can use it on the stove top, in the oven, or over an open flame while camping . . . I need good versatile stuff like that.

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    1. I have never used mine in the oven, but I really should. I have stoneware that I love store in the oven and so it is always there ready to use! :)

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  5. I love our cast iron pans and cook as much as I can in them. I don't use nonstick or teflon ever. I just found you through Homestead Revival. I hope I can persuade you to come link up to my Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest: http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/09/farm-girl-friday-blog-fest-2.html

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    1. Looking forward to it this week!

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  6. Great tips! I don't use my cast iron skillets enough, I think because I put them at the bottom of the pile of skillets. Must fix that. :) I just shared this on my facebook page. Thanks for sharing this with the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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    1. Thanks for the shout out on Facebook!

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  7. You inspired me to bring my cast iron skillet out again for daily use. I've burned several things in the last couple days, though. Any tips for this? Thanks!

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    1. Let me think...make sure that there isn't any burnt food left from the last time. Get your pan hot first, then add the oil. Maker sure that the oil is spread through out the pan. Let the oil sit for a minute to get hot and then add your food. What kind of food are you trying to cook?

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    2. Thanks - yeah, maybe I'm not letting it heat enough first. Or someone else mentioned maybe its getting too hot since cast iron holds heat so well and to heat it well, add oil, then put on low. Most recently I was trying to warm up some roasted veggies and probably left them on medium high without stirring frequently enough. Works with my non-stick, but I guess I need to re-learn with my cast iron. Thanks!

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  8. I love my cast iron skillets, I still get things stuck on them though :-O

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    1. The sticking doesn't bother me as long as I can get it off!

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  9. I have a 'grill' cast iron skillet (Calphalon) and it has burnt something (?) on it and I have tried and tried to get it off. Any suggestions? :( It isn't on the whole pan, just in some of the grill ridges.

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    1. If you can boil water in it and get as much off as possible that way. I would try a dry salt rub if you need a little more grit to get off the rest of the residue.

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  10. The absolute best way I know to "season", make cast iron non-stick, is to cook pancakes in them. Heat the pan, use a paper towel or piece of wax paper to coat the bottom with vegetable shortening. If a little pancake batter still sticks, just scrub that out when washing and try to wash the rest of the pan as little as possible without using soap. It make take serveral times of making pancakes but eventually you will be able to make pancakes and just rinse the pan with a little water and wipe out with a paper towel. The nonstick surface will stay that way for a long time, even while preparing other foods and regular washing with soapy water. Just make sure to dry it well after washing. My Mom also used to put hers back on a warm burner for a few minutes to make sure it was dry after washing.

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