Cast Iron perfection

Ode to cast iron pans – the greenest, smartest, most simple and effective cooking tools, alongside the grater and the wooden spoon.

Good for cooking:  These pans take a while to heat up, and, although not fully even in heat distribution, they maintain heat very well and support all types of cooking from very hot frying to long-term low-temp cooking for pulled pork or deep-set soups. I love that you can bury a cast iron dutch oven in coals in a hearth or at a campsite and cook your pan bread or stew…beautifully.

Good for cleaning: Though not non-stick, a well-seasoned pan is pretty darn easy to clean up and maintain.  Best process I’ve found so far so far includes salt and olive oil as a scrubbing agent, then rinse out, clean with light dishsoap and water, dry and re-oil if needed (wipe out ALL excess oils).  At a campsite, some sand will do for scrubbing if need be.

Good for long-term: You won’t have to replace these pans in five years, or even ten, unlike most pans.  Maybe when you are older and cannot handle the weight of cast iron you may need a lighter option, but then you can pass these onto your offspring or a cherished friend.

Good forever: Seasoning a cast iron pan is pretty easy and then keeping good condition is even easier. Use the right oil for seasoning, or buy a pre-seasoned pan, and use soap when cleaning despite the rumors out there to the contrary.

An article about the chemistry in cast iron seasoning/cooking.

If the pan seems dry you can apply a very light wipe of oil, then place over heat (or in heat in the oven) just until the oil smokes.  Then let it cool and wipe it our well and you’re good to go.

Even a highly rusted cast iron pan can be salvaged, cleaned, seasoned and placed back into service. Only if there is pitting would this be an issue, then you can use that pan for…something else!  How about as a round country painting in it’s own cast iron frame, or you can bury it under the hydrangea’s to help them be more blue. Or as a weapon (infinitely better than a gun, I assure you).

"I've got to get me one of these!"

“I’ve got to get me one of these!”

Good for your wallet:  Cast iron pans are VERY inexpensive.  I never understood paying $600-$1,000 for kitchen pans when a set of cast iron pans performs amazingly well. I have bought new large pans for $60, and found decent pans and dutch ovens at yard sales for less than $5.

Good for the USA:  Lodge’s is the oldest manufacturer of cast iron pans in the USA.  And they take the environment seriously.

Lodge Cast Iron history

Good for your health: aluminum pans have been linked to Alzheimer’s and Teflon coated (and other non-stick) pans have serious issues with off-gassing toxins that have killed birds in homes.  Stick with the one pan that not only won’t harm you, but supports your need for iron in your diet! Truly!

I encourage you to try out some cast iron perfection.  And let me know how it goes.

-Jodi

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