Cooking with Cast Iron

The benefits of cooking with #CastIron by WholeIntentions.com.(source)

Travis saw a box of old, rusty cast iron pans at a garage sale one summer and purchased them. Why? Well one night while we were eating dinner he noticed little black specks in the mashed potatoes. He asked me about them.

“Oh, that’s just my frying pan. The non-stick coating is wearing away.”

The truth about Teflon

Oddly enough, Travis didn’t like the idea of ingesting little black specks of teflon, so he did a bit of research.

His results were rather unsettling. Tests commissioned by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) showed that teflon coated cookware can exceed temperatures in just five minutes that can emit toxic particles and gases linked to pet bird deaths and human illnesses.

Long story short: teflon went out; cast iron came in.

Why use cast iron?

Cooking with cast iron increases the amount of iron you consume, especially if you stir the food often or if you’re cooking with highly acidic foods like tomatoes. Most people have an iron deficiency (anemia) so this can be beneficial.

Cast iron is also easy to use. Just give them a good seasoning, dry them off after washing, and they’ll probably outlive you. 🙂 Many cast iron lovers are using pots and skillets passed down by their grandparents in as good of shape as they were back then.

The benefits of cast iron far outweigh Teflon!

Seasoning cast iron

As intimidating as it sounds to “season” cast iron, it’s really not that hard.

Five easy steps to clean #CastIron from WholeIntentions.com

1. First, take out those old rusty pans and prepare yourself for a makeover. Wash and dry the pans completely. No stuck on food please. 🙂

2. Next, pour in a good blob of coconut oil – olive oil is good for dressings, but it isn’t safe to use with high temperatures.

3. Take a paper towel and wipe a thin layer of oil around the inside, outside, and in all the crooks and crannies. Wipe down the lids too. Make sure you wipe on just enough oil to coat it. Too much oil will make a sticky residue when you’re done baking them. You’d rather have too little than too much.

4. Place the greased pans upside down in your oven. This prevents the oil from pooling in the bottom while they are baking. You may want to place a sheet of tin foil in the bottom of your oven to catch any drips. You can warm the pans for 15 min. or so and then wipe out any excess oil if you’d like before you bake them the entire time.

Turn your oven to 500 (it needs high heat to bond properly) and bake for one hour. This may get smokey (okay, it will get smokey), so be sure to have your oven fan on or your windows open.

5. Once they’re done cooking, leave them in the oven to cool down slowly. This will take a good 30 min. or longer. You can repeat the seasoning process several times to create a better seasoning bond and one that will not wear away as quickly.

Caring for cast iron

vintage cast iron pans on side of old shed(source)

  • New cast iron that has not been seasoned is a gray color, not black. Be sure to wash and season them before use. Try to use recipes that contain high amounts of grease or oil the first couple of times you use them as this will also help season them. They’ll turn black as they’re seasoned and used. This is normal.
  • If you buy pre-seasoned cast iron you may still want to season it yourself, just to make sure you’ve got a good bond.
  • Do not store food in your cast iron pans as the condensation can start to rust the pan while the food is still in it. It also gives the food a metallic taste and breaks down the seasoning.
  • Clean your pots as soon as you’re done using them, while they are still warm if possible. Don’t use abrasive cleaning materials or soaps as this will wear down the seasoning faster. Instead, use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to scrape of any food left on. NEVER put your cast iron in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe your cast iron down with a towel or paper towel as soon as you’re done washing them. Dry completely. Make sure to get the lids and any place water can set or they can start rusting in a matter of hours. When you’re done washing and drying your pan, wipe the inside with a bit of oil or lard again before storing. (Once they’re seasoned really well you can skip this part.)
  • Don’t store you pans where condensation can form. Don’t leave the lids on; make sure they get plenty of air or rust will form.
  • Never put your hot pans under cold water; this can crack and break them.
  • The more you use your cast iron, the better seasoned it will become. A really well-seasoned cast iron pan will leave teflon in the dust.

Once you try cast iron, I guarantee you’ll never go back!

Have you made the switch?

 cast iron(source)

Shared with: Flour Me With Love, The Prairie Homestead, The Modest Mom Blog, Vintage Wannabee, Time-Warp Wife, Rook No. 17, Delicious Obsessions, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Deep Roots at HomeDay 2 Day Joys, Raising Homemakers, Frugally Sustainable, This Chick Cooks, Our Simple Country Life, The Nourishing Gourmet, GNOWFGLINS, The Greenbacks Gal, Raising Mighty Arrows, Little Natural Cottage,

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, attachments, and other material are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

 
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I help others with recurring candida and stubborn fat learn how heal their gut and shrink their waist - in a way that's DOABLE. You can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Latest posts by Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant (see all)

About The Author

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I help others with recurring candida and stubborn fat learn how heal their gut and shrink their waist - in a way that's DOABLE. You can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube.

33 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply April 23, 2009

    From Garst guy to gluten guy- Interesting. JD

  • Paula

    Reply Reply April 23, 2009

    Hey JD,

    Yep. Garst guy, gluten guy, and when no one is looking: a goofy guy.

    It’s quite rare that he’s ever a grumpy guy. But there’s always exeptions. Like, let’s just say, if a particular older brother of his were to pick on him. He might try to whack him over the head with a scoop shovel.

    But somehow I think you knew that already. . . 🙂

    Say hi to your little guys for us!

  • Kim

    Reply Reply June 25, 2012

    I recently dumped all of our “non” stick pans and bought Lodge pans. I am loving them! I’m always on the look out now for cast iron at yard sales.

  • Jeanette

    Reply Reply June 25, 2012

    I am so impressed by how clean your oven is! Forget the cast iron (which I love by the way) and tell me how you keep it that clean. I have a self cleaning oven and mine is never that clean.

    I’m with you on the Teflon coated pans. I had some Club cast aluminum with the Teflon coating and almost all the Teflon was gone by the time I finally found out just how bad it really is! Now I have stainless and my trusty cast iron skillet.

    • Paula

      Reply Reply June 26, 2012

      Hi Jeanette –

      Thanks for stopping by!

      This post is about three years old and the oven is clean because it was still fairly new! Don’t look at it now though! 😉 I’ve got to get in there with some mean elbow grease!

      • Karen

        Reply Reply June 29, 2012

        put a bowl of ammonia in the closed oven over night. It will clean up easy the next morning. Put the drip pans on the stove top in a large bag with a little ammonia(I put it out on the porch) over night and they practically wipe clean. Hope this helps

        • Paula

          Reply Reply June 29, 2012

          Thanks Karen! I’m going to have to try that!

  • Beth @ My Destiny

    Reply Reply June 26, 2012

    Hmmmm. I have cast iron pans, but NEVER use them. So — are you saying that after they are seasoned well, food won’t stick?

    Maybe I should give them a try. My parents always used cast iron.

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
    Beth

    • Paula

      Reply Reply June 26, 2012

      Yep! Once they’re seasoned really well they are non-stick greatness!

  • I love my cast iron pans.

    But please, do be cautious about cooking tomatoes – or other highly acidic foods – in them. Not only will it wear off the seasoning, it will cause the pans to start rusting. And once that starts, seasoning won’t fix it.

    • Paula

      Reply Reply June 26, 2012

      Hi Elizabeth – Thanks for stopping by. You’re right, tomatoes can wear down on seasoning, so it’s never a good idea to let tomatoes sit in a cast iron pan for long periods, and you’d want to wash the pan out when you were done rather than leaving it sit.

      However, if rust starts, you can clean it off with steel wool or 100 grit sandpaper. Our pans were quite rusty when we got them, but they weren’t so bad that we couldn’t clean them up and season them. 🙂

      • Thanks for responding! I am curious though… if abrasive cleaning materials are harmful to cast iron, why is it okay to use steel wool to remove rust? Is it simply the difference between a “one-time” thing (removing rust) and a regular, constant thing (daily cleaning)?
        Not trying to be disagreeable, just trying to learn 🙂

        • Paula

          Reply Reply June 26, 2012

          I love questions. Please ask away! 🙂

          Yeah, it’s more the idea that if you use abrasive materials all of the time the seasoning gets worn off and then food starts to stick again and you’re back to scrubbing pots. A one-time cleaning is fine.

          And if you’ve seasoned them really well and dried them thoroughly before storing them again, rust shouldn’t be an issue again.

  • Great instructions and tips, here! My Granny cooked with cast iron all the time, and my MIL does, too. I was pleasantly surprised this year with 3 pieces of cast iron for my birthday from my MIL!!! So, I am now officially hooked. I feel like I can cook anything in that black skillet!!

  • Oh, how I wish I had my grandma’s cast iron dutch oven that I sold (for pennies, I’m sure!) at a garage sale when was a young mom and short on storage.

  • Thanks for this helpful post! I have a cast iron pan that belonged to my grandma, and you’re right – it’s still going strong!
    Have any tips for not getting so much stuck to it? Do I just need to us lots of grease when I cook with it? Seems like I can’t even make eggs without needing to scrape the pan down with a rubber scraper afterwards.
    (Here from Healthy 2Day Wednesday!)

    • Paula

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Hi Steph,

      Thanks for stopping by! How neat to have the cast iron pan your grandma did!

      I LOVE eggs and was running into the same problem – it was a hassle to clean the pan every morning. I started frying them in coconut oil or butter and was amazed at how easily they slipped off the pan. Plus they tasted delicious!

      After several weeks I noticed how smooth and black my pans had become.

      Even if cast iron is seasoned, the normal wear and tear and washing will gradually remove the seasoning to some degree. You can either re-season them or use lots of butter or coconut oil each time and they gradually season themselves.

  • I love this thorough post about cast iron! We sure love cooking with ours! I will be following along and visit again!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Glad to have you here! As a twin myself, I had to pop over to your blog for a glimpse of what my mom’s life probably looked like – busy, huh?!

      See ya soon!

  • Jennifer

    Reply Reply July 3, 2012

    Hi! I just received several used cast iron pans. They have this really thick black coating all on the inside and outside. Is that normal? I didn’t know if it was part of the seasoning, or they just were not taken care of properly. Maybe they weren’t seasoned properly or not washed. Not sure-but I didn’t think I could cook with them on my flat top stove. It seemed whatever was on the ooutside of the pans might come off onto the stove.

    • Hey Jennifer,

      Hmm. It’s hard to tell without seeing them in person. A really well-seasoned pan will be black on the inside and the outside – that’s normal. Is the black coating sticky in any way? If there’s a sticky residue I’d suggest washing them really well and re-seasoning them. A properly seasoned pan shouldn’t be sticky or have any kind of residue come off when you’re cooking on the stove.

      And while some people say not to use cast iron on flat top stoves, I do and have for about four years without a problem. Just try not to slide them around or bang them too hard on the surface. 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  • Jennifer

    Reply Reply July 3, 2012

    Paula, it is a sticky, thick, rough coating. It’s not the seasoning. I tried to clean it with a scrub pad, but it didn’t come off. I just put them in the oven on the self cleaning cycle. Hope this helps. If so, I’ll let you know. I have also read not to use them on a flat top stove. I am a little nervous-but it makes me feel better that you have been using them for four years. Thank you for the information!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply July 3, 2012

      Hey Jennifer,

      I remember reading an article several years ago about cleaning nasty stuff off cast iron but I don’t have the slightest idea where it is anymore. However, I did find this article and thought it might give you some more tricks to try if the oven cleaning method doesn’t work. http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/SandingCastIron.htm

  • burinsmith

    Reply Reply July 5, 2012

    I’m with you…we’re a teflon free zone too. I use my cast iron and enamelled cast iron, and I’m convinced it’s even more “non-stick” than teflon. Well seasoned cast iron cleans up in a jiff, especially if dunked it a sink of soapy water right after using! thanks for sharing your post…love the look of those vintage cast iron pots you got!

  • Jennifer

    Reply Reply July 10, 2012

    Paula, the self cleaning oven cycle worked. It turned all the black sludge into dust. I did have to clean the pans really well after they came out of the oven. But they cleaned up well and I have seasoned them twice now. Thank you for all the information!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply July 10, 2012

      Thanks so much for coming back and letting us know! I’m so happy your pans cleaned up. You’re going to love them!

  • CMH

    Reply Reply November 1, 2013

    I never, never, NEVER wash my cast iron skillets and pots. (Any and all water and soap will seep into the pores and alter the taste of the cooked food and affect the cast iron.) Instead, I use a little coarse salt and oil to scrub off food residue (using a paper towel or old cloth that I don’t mind staining). The more one uses a cast iron skillet or pot, the better it gets. Rub a bit of oil on it after each use, while it is still warm, and it will retain its non-stick properties.

  • Deb

    Reply Reply November 24, 2013

    Paula- Great Post! Last year we made the switch to all cast iron. We also went for stainless steel in the pasta pots with no knuckle (check your pot with a magnet…if it sticks really good you have a purer steel).

    It took me a while, but I finally ditched all the plastic spatula’s because they usually have some unwelcome chemicals of their own. I kept the wood spatulas just in case, but the best is a good steel spatula that also passes the magnet test. I went with this because it really increases my chances of adding iron to my diet! Just teasing…it seems to knock down the ‘seasoning’ on the new Lodge Logic so that they are smoother. Not much beats the really old cast iron with ‘machined’ interiors that are smooth. If you ever see that at a garage sale buy the whole box. They cost twice as much as the regular ones decades ago, and now no one makes them.

  • Tamara

    Reply Reply October 5, 2014

    I have a. ?? I have a cast iron skillet and I used it in the grill to make salmon. It was great, but I forgot it in the grill for a few days. Now it’s sticky and rusty….

    • Paula

      Reply Reply October 8, 2014

      You can still put it in a very hot oven (about 500 degrees) and cook off the stickiness and scrub it down. Wash as much rust away as you can, and then season it like usual. They should come out just fine. 🙂

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