Cast iron cooking is everywhere these days. Cooking with a cast iron cookware is one of the most satisfying cooking experiences for both experienced chefs and beginners. For starters, a cast iron cookware is full of character, nonstick, non-toxic, long-lasting, and reliable.
It can be used for any type of cooking. This kitchen staple is a versatile workhorse for some of your favorite recipes, from melting chocolate chip cookies for dessert to searing crispy fish fillets for dinner, cooking Dutch baby pancakes, and baking pan pizza.
They are incredibly robust pieces of cookware that are nearly impossible to ruin. Cast iron grill pans, cast iron baking pans, and cast iron skillets, they all are used in different settings from campgrounds to home kitchens, and gourmet restaurants.
Now, if you are new to cast iron cookware, it can be a bit overwhelming realizing that you don’t know much about it, such as how to season cast iron. Don’t worry, we will find you some answers and more in our beginner’s guide to cast iron cookware.
Let’s get started.
Table Of Contents
How is Cast Iron Cookware Made?
In the late 1800s, when homes transitioned from cooking over a fireplace to cooking on a camping stove, modern cast iron cookware gained immense popularity.
With the introduction of stoves, there was a need for cookware that had sturdy flat bottoms. As a result, cast iron served the need. Since iron was readily available, affordable, and durable, cast iron cookware became a norm in the majority of households.
Cast iron cookware is made from pure molten iron and no adulterated metals. Molten iron is poured into cookware-shaped molds. Usually, sandy molds are used to prepare cast iron cookware as they are easy to mold and shape. Most importantly, the utensil is easy to separate from the sandy mold.
In the 1950s and 60s, when nonstick cookware was introduced, the popularity of cast iron was negatively impacted. However, over time, people started realizing that cast iron cookware has its own place in cooking, and no fancy Teflon cookware can take its place.
Today, cast iron utensils are commercially produced in large quantities, and they come pre-seasoned.
The Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware
Since you are a beginner, you need to understand why cast iron utensils are given so much prominence, even in this reign of space-aged cookware.
The following benefits will give you reasons to include cast iron cookware in your daily cooking.
#1 It is nonstick
Now, your cast iron cookware will need seasoning in the beginning, but once it has a nice sheen on it, it is better than your nonstick pans. You don’t have to use a whole lot of oil when cooking in a nice nonstick cast iron skillet. Less oil means it is better for health.
#2 It is chemical-free
As we told earlier, cast iron utensils are made from pure molten iron and have no adulterated compounds. They are excellent alternatives to your nonstick cooking pans that have Teflon coating and contain perfluorocarbons. It is unhealthy for your health as the chemicals can go into your body through the food and cause some serious issues.
#3 Adds iron to your food
The primary benefit of cooking in a cast iron utensil is that it adds the much-needed iron to your food. People suffering from iron deficiency are advised to eat foods cooked in cast iron cookware.
#4 Multiple uses
The best part about cast iron cooking is that you can use both oven and stove. It serves the dual purpose and can be put inside an oven at any temperature.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware
Seasoning is the process of adding and maintaining a natural nonstick sheen to the cast iron surface. Since they don’t contain chemically coated protective surfaces, seasoning is crucial, and the first thing to do when you buy an iron skillet or pan.
Seasoning is a long process and doesn’t think that you can achieve it overnight. The best way to season your cast iron skillet is to heat oil or fat until it starts to smoke. Repeat it 4-5 times before you start cooking in it. And as you cook, over time, it will naturally start forming a nonstick protective coating.
Now, you need to understand that there is a difference between seasoning and oiling. A lot of people tend to confuse both the processes as the same thing. Essentially, they are not the same process.
What is Oiling?
People oil their cast iron pan or skillet before storing away. In oiling, you wipe down the entire utensil with oil before storing it. It is a part of the maintenance procedure that the cast iron utensil has to go through throughout its lifetime. Oil adds a protective layer over the iron, preventing it from rusting or oxidizing.
Cast Iron Cleaning
This is the most important part of owning a cast iron utensil. Cleaning, unlike any other utensil, is quite different when it comes to cast iron. For starters, no dishwashing or use of soap! Here is how to clean and maintain your cast iron cookware.
- We recommend that you clean the pan while it is still warm. Or you can do warm water rinsing until the stuck-on bits are removed. You can use a scraper or brush to make the process easy. But do not overdo it. Avoid soaking!
- If there are some serious bits attached to the cast iron surface, scrub it with oil and salt. Then, rinse with warm water and wipe it clean. You can use kosher salt.
- Use a clean towel to dry the pan. Moisture will lead to rusting. You can put it on a stovetop over low heat and let all the moisture evaporate. Once it completely dries, coat a layer of oil all over its surface.
- Store it in a place where moisture can’t reach.
The best thing about cast iron cooking is that you can usually cook any recipe with it. So, you can always try out new things. The only concern you should have is about its seasoning and proper maintenance. Follow the steps we have mentioned, and you will never face any complications.