My son started me on the cast iron journey. He was six years old and was Christmas shopping with his dad when he decided that this little cast iron pan was to be my gift. He is 22 now and one day I’ll be able to hand that pan down to him as an heirloom.
Vintage Versus Modern Cast Iron
Before you go out and buy a collection of cast iron you should know that they are not equal in quality. The best cast iron pans are often vintage. Vintage pans are lighter and have a smoother cooking surface. They’ve been carefully smoothed down to create a natural non stick surface. They are wonderful to cook with.
New cast iron pans are usually heavier and have a rougher surface. Don’t get me wrong, they are still great pans and I use them often. I am quite happy with them but my old pans are better.
You can hunt for old pans at flea markets, antique stores, auctions, and in friends and families basements! Start asking around!
Modern Cast Iron Built The Old Fashioned Way
If you can’t find old pans, there are a small number of companies that are producing cast iron pans the old fashioned way. Considering the pan will last forever, it’s a pretty good investment. I have not tried them, but if you want to find out more here are the websites: Smithey Iron Ware & The Field Company both make beautiful cast iron, made in America!
You can find cast iron pans to fit every kitchen need. From every size of skillet to woks, pizza trays, bread and muffin tins and so on. You can also find enamelled cast iron which is a great choice for Dutch ovens.
Cook Anything, Anywhere, With Cast Iron
Cast iron is really versatile, You can use it in your kitchen, over a fire pit or on a BBQ. A cast iron pan can easily become a family heirloom lasting centuries. One thing I love about cast iron is how well they hold the heat. I can take a pan from oven to table providing piping hot meals.
The smaller individual pans are perfect for serving individual Shepard’s pie, stews, baked omelettes and waffles.
Nutritional Iron Deficiency
One of the easiest options to get more iron in your diet or to deal with iron deficiency is by cooking with cast iron cookware. Studies have shown that there can be an increase of 16.2% in the iron content of food cooked using cast iron.
Cast Iron Care
Contrary to what you might have heard, cast iron is easy to care for. Rinse with hot water and a rub lightly with a cloth or nylon scouring pad. Don’t rub too hard. Dry thoroughly and rub with a good coating of oil. The oil will prevent rust from any moisture in the air. that’s all there is to it!
Never put your cast iron in a dishwasher or a sink filled with water. Avoid the use of soap.
If you do get a touch of rust, don’t worry. Just gently use a scouring pad to remove the rust, rinse the pan and rub with oil.
Re-seasoning or Restoring Vintage Pans
I have seen amazing examples of horribly rusted cast iron pans being restored and they truly look like new again. Re-seasoning a pan is really easy. You can do this in an oven but we prefer to do it outside using the barbecue.
- Use a stiff brush and scrub away the rust and build up with hot soapy water
- Rinse well and dry thoroughly
- Rub a coat of vegetable shortening on all surfaces of the pan
- Place a drip tray on the bottom rack of your oven
- Place your pan upside down in the oven
- Bake for two hours at 400F
- Allow to cool completely before removing from oven
You can repeat this process a few more times to build up the non stick seasoning if desired. You can also do this occasionally with you pans if you feel that the seasoning is wearing thin.
The Trick to Eggs
Some people have trouble with eggs in cast iron pans: they are all making the same mistake, which is a pan that is too cold. If you heat up your oil properly before putting eggs in, you’ll have a cooking surface that is incredibly slick, as good as teflon. Things only go poorly, with eggs, when you try to cook them without adequately heating the pan.
Use it in a Fire Pit
Go ahead and use your pan on an open fire. Just be careful it doesn’t get too hot. I once made the mistake of letting that happen, and we had to re-season the pan. Otherwise, cast iron is wonderful for cooking with over a campfire.
Cast Iron Skillet Buns Recipe
Here’s a recipe for quick and easy skillet buns: Get the recipe here!
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