Cooking With Cast Iron: What You Need To Know

Some women like to collect pretty things, such as vases, flowers, figurines. Some, however, like to collect cast iron.

Having multiple cast iron pans makes meal prep so much easier, as you can grab what you need and go from stove top to oven with ease.

cast iron skillet
cast iron skillet

Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron pans have been around for over 2,000 years, used in China as early as 3rd century B.C. Since these pans have been around for so long, they have demonstrated that they are relatively safe to use.

Modern cookware, in sharp contrast, cannot say the same. Aluminum can react with food and be absorbed in large amounts, and there is a sharp and unsettling correlation shown between too much accumulated aluminum and the occurrence of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Furthermore, other types of cookware, like non-stick pans, cannot be used on high heat and are easily scratched. Pans with damaged Teflon coating are unsafe to use. Stainless steel cookware is safe to use, but if your pans develop hot spots, your food will burn.

The same goes for copper bases on stainless steels pans, which aren’t suitable for high heat cooking like searing.

Cast iron pans, however, can be used for cooking on high heat. While the iron in the pans can react with acidic food, the seasoning on the pan will serve as a barrier. If any iron leaches into your food, it does not pose a health risk, as iron is a necessary mineral.

Furthermore, cast iron pans are both tough and durable. Yes, they might be heavy, but they have the potential to offer hundreds of years of service. These pans won’t break, and they won’t stick. Even if a pan looks old, it is easy to clean it up and re-season it.

If you use a cast-iron pan, you can also cut down on the amount of cooking oil you need to use. When seasoned well, they act just like nonstick pans.

You can cook on high heat without having to worry about burning the food or making it too mushy. They prevent food from burning, as they cook evenly and can cook several inches of food above its service.

Finally, cast iron pans are easy to maintain. You can rinse them while they are still hot, and use metal spatulas or ladles without having to worry about scratching the pans.

Disadvantages of Cast Iron Cookware

Despite their myriad advantages, some folks still shy away from using cast iron cookware. They do have some limitations, as they are heavy and need to be handled carefully in cleaning and seasoning.

You need to clean them thoroughly after cooking – they can’t sit around like other types of cookware.

They also require re-seasoning after every use, which can be time consuming. They also require frequent use, with infrequent use causing problems with the pan’s seasoning.

That being said, there really is no limit to the recipes you can make with cast iron. From chicken and beef to pasta or desserts, a good cast iron pan can do it all.

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Some of my favorite cast iron pieces that I use daily are:

  • 3 quart pot. Perfect for veggies, soups, and making bread.
  • Dutch oven. Also great for bread, whole chickens, and deep dish meals.
  • 10 inch skillet. My go to for eggs, casseroles, and meatloaf.
  • Pizza Pan. Great not only for pizza, but for fajitas and large servings of bacon and eggs.
  • Waffle maker.
  • Wedge pan. Great for making cakes, cornbreads, and even cookies in easy serving sizes.

Cast iron is also great for cooking because it cleans up easily when it’s well seasoned. Simply wipe the food off, add a bit of oil and you’re good to go for the next recipe!

Well-seasoned cast iron has an excellent non stick coating, even better than Teflon. If the seasoning is causing food to stick, simply clean well, and reason your cast iron.

Keeping Your Cast Iron Pieces in Great Condition

To keep cast iron seasoning at its best, follow these tips:

  • Don’t ever use soap to clean the pan.
  • Don’t allow water to sit in pan for long periods of time (such as soaking)
  • If food gets stuck, apply a thin coating of salt and rub food away.
  • Don’t use metal utensils on the pan to avoid scratching the surface.
  • Clean pan as quickly as possible after use.
  • Add a bit of oil such as tallow or coconut oil after cleaning while pan is hot.

Some brands of cast iron to consider:

  • Lodge-currently the most commonly found brand, it’s available even at Walmart or other large stores.
  • Griswold-very vintage, and can be pricey or hard to find. (interested in vintage? Check out this site here)
  • Le Cruset-very “French” and quite pricey, but gorgeous pieces to add to your collection.

If you are ready to cook with cast iron, but aren’t sure what to cook, these recipes are a great place to start!

Cast Iron Chicken Recipes

From whole chickens, to chicken pasta dishes, this is the way to cook poultry!

Cast Iron Beef Recipes

Cast Iron Casseroles/Pizzas Recipes

Cast Iron Snack Recipes

Cast Iron Bread Recipes

Cast Iron Side Dish Recipes

Cast Iron Breakfast Recipes

Cast Iron Dessert Recipes

What are your favorite cast iron pieces? How often do you use them? Be sure to pin this for later!

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