Friday, July 29, 2011

Cast Iron Maiden

You know how I promised you a cast-iron post?  Well, I consulted with a friend who used to be in the culinary gadgets business (she worked in that high-end cookware store in the mall - you know the one), and she came up with a whole list of reasons that cast-iron is amazing.  I have her list in bold, and I've supplied a little blurb about each one.

  1. It’s a natural non-stick.  Once you season your cast-iron skillet, you don't have to worry about your food sticking.  As long as you re-season it every so often, it's the perfect non-stick pan.
  2. Due to #1, its fumes won’t kill your family bird.  While I'm not quite sure about birds, non-stick pans do give off fumes that can harm you, and the environment.  When non-stick pans are heated to high temperatures, they give off about a dozen harmful chemicals.  When cast-iron pans are heated to high temperatures, they just get hot.
  3. Inexpensive purchase price.  Cast-iron is cheap.  You can get a 8 1/2" diameter skillet for fifteen dollars, as apposed to a $25 non-stick pan, or a $160 stainless steel pan.
  4. Easy to clean. I mean, what other kind of cookware begs you not to use soap on it? Any stubborn food particles can be scrubbed with a brush and coarse salt.  You can also wipe your pan out with a paper towel, if you want.
  5. Retains heat very well, which uses less energy.  Cast-iron takes a little longer to heat up, but once it's hot, it stays hot.  It also tends to distribute heat more evenly, which means you'll have better eggs, pancakes, cornbread, or whatever you choose to make in your skillet.
  6. In the end, you can pass it along to another generation to use, since even if it got rusted from years of attic neglect, you can sand and re-season it and voila – you have a new pan and you can go back to #1 above :)  That's what I love about cast-iron: It'll last forever.  I've seen pans that are at least fifty years old.  They're great family heirlooms: "This was my great-grandma's first cast-iron frying pan..."
  7. It can even be used when not in use- but that may be a whole new list …
  •  A.  Can be used as a food press to make panini or evenly cooked bacon- just plop it on top of the food in another pan.  This does work - we've tried it.
  • B. Creative door stop.  Hey, it's heavy enough!
  • C. Pound out chicken breasts evenly.  "Bang! Bang! Bang!"
  • D. Makes use of charcoal that is done cooking your food: while coals still hot, put some bacon grease on the pan and set out over coals. It will season that pan and prolong the non-stickedness.  Like I said above, right?
  • E. Just looks cool.  And, really, what more can you want?
  • F. Protection from burglars: just hit someone over the head with one of these when they walk past the doorway and you won’t have anything to worry about.  For a good example, see the new Disney Princess movie.

Our cast-iron collection.  From the top left, clockwise: Dutch oven, skillet with a lid,
loaf pan, butter melter, other skillet.


  1. Cooking with cast iron is great! I love the tip about using your charcoal (all natural hardwood, of course) to season your pans after you're done grilling. Place the pan over the coals upside down to make sure your grease does not puddle in the bottom. In addition to all the good uses listed by Kaynan, you will also get a work out while you cook. Last comment is don't forget the handles get HOT. Always grab them with a pot holder or towel. I tend to forget that (like this morning).

  2. I love cast iron! We are slowly but surely building our collection. I also feel good about knowing that I'm not potentially poisoning my family with non-stick teflon chunks that always get scraped off into the food (you've seen the pans...). More to come on that soon at Keep up the great work and interesting posts, Kaynan!!

  3. Yes. I agree! Cooking will be best when you are actually using cast-iron. Easy and convenient.