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.
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
- 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?
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 Home, Day 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,