Using a cast iron skillet is a personal choice. There are good reasons to use them and some reasons they are not so good. Personally, I use my cast iron for some things, but not for everything.
Below is the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Lasts forever, if cared for.
- Naturally non-stick if kept seasoned properly.
- Good on every type of stove and even works great on campfire coals.
- Iron heats evenly and cooks food evenly.
- I feel that some food just tastes better cooked in cast iron, that is a subjective good.
- It's a lethal weapon, if you conk someone on the head with it, you can bet he won't get up.
- You cannot put it in the dishwasher.
- You must keep up on the seasoning, which is kind of a hassle.
- Will rust if not kept properly seasoned.
- Will turn highly acidic food, like tomato sauce, dark from the iron.
- Weighs about 10 pounds. If you drop this on your foot, be prepared to go to the hospital.
What is this "Seasoning" that cast iron cookware needs?
When you get a brand new cast iron skillet, it is gray. After seasoning, it should be a nice, dark black. "Seasoning" is the act of infusing the pores of the iron with grease. It is very important that you do this and keep doing it for the life of the pan. It makes the skillet non-stick, and keeps it from rusting after being washed in water.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
- Warm your skillet in the oven. Not hot, but warm.
- Scoop out some shortening and rub a thin layer of it all over the pan, inside and out.
- Place it upside down on a rack in your oven at 350 degrees for two hours.
- After two hours, turn off the stove and crack the door. Let cool overnight.
- The next day, follow the above steps and again place it in the oven for two hours.
- After letting it cool a second time, you should have a good non-stick coating.
- This should be done again, every two or three times you use the piece to keep the coating in good shape. I always spritz the inside with cooking spray after cleaning.
How to Wash a Cast Iron Skillet
Some people use soap to wash their skillet, but my mom always told me not to. She just rinsed it and wiped it out with a paper towel. You must be absolutely sure to get all the water off the skillet before putting it in the cabinet.
Images from Amazon.com
The one thing I always cook in my cast iron skillet is fried chicken. Not only do I think it tastes better, but it also seems to keep the coating strong on the pan. I also make cornbread, hush puppies and fry fish in it. I think everyone that cooks can benefit from owning a one, I recommend it, highly!