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Claire - Chef's Cookware

The Cast Iron Guide To Cookery

...or cooking with cast iron

7th April 2007 00:00

There are several reason that people rave about their cast-iron cookware. Besides being an ideal heat conductor, cast iron heats evenly and consistently, it is inexpensive and will last a lifetime with proper care, and it is an old-fashioned way to cook fat free. When well seasoned, a cast-iron pan will be stick resistant and require no additional oil.

The first most common mistake of why people do not like cast iron is that they say everything sticks. If food sticks to your cast-iron pan, your pan is not seasoned right and you need to re-season it. Cast iron is a natural non-stick surface and if your pan is seasoned correctly it will not stick! Also seasoned cast-iron cookware cleans up easily as well. Seasoning or curing cast iron means filling the pores and voids in the metal with grease of some sort, which subsequently gets cooked in. This provides a smooth, non-stick surface on both the inside and outside of the piece.

How To Season:
You season a cast iron pan by rubbing it with a relatively small amount of neutral oil, such as vegetable oil or lard, to produce a very thin coat of oil

Place the cast iron pan, upside down, in the oven, with a sheet of aluminium foil on the bottom to catch any drips. Heat the pan for 30 to 60 minutes in a 150°C to 250°C oven. Once done, let the pan cool to room temperature. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger "seasoning" bond.

The oil fills the cavities and becomes entrenched in them, as well as rounding off the peaks. By seasoning a new pan, the cooking surface develops a non-stick quality because the formerly jagged and pitted surface becomes smooth. Also, because the pores are permeated with oil, water cannot seep in and create rust that would give food an off-flavour.

To maintain the seasoning, it is recommended that you do the following after every use:

  1. Let the pan cool. Wash it with dishwashing soap and water. Never soak or let soapy water sit in the pan for any length of time. Rinse thoroughly, then dry with paper towels. Never put cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher.
  2. Place the cleaned cast iron pan on the heated burner of your stove for a minute or two to make sure that it is bone dry. While the pan is still hot and on the stove burner, lightly oil inside of pan with a neutral cooking oil.
  3. Leave pan on the hot burner of stove for a few minutes. Remove from hot burner and wipe excess oil off the pan with a paper towel.

How to cook with cast iron

Preheat your pan before preparing your meal. Water droplets should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan, when dropped onto the heated surface. If the water disappears immediately after being dropped, the pan is too hot. If water only rests and bubbles in the pan, it is not quite hot enough.

Dos and don'ts

Do not pour large amounts of cold liquid into your hot skillet. This can cause the cast iron to break.

Do watch out with pan handles as they get extremely hot!

If your food gets a metallic taste, or turns "black", it means one of two things are wrong. Either your pot has not been sufficiently seasoned, or you are leaving the food in the pot after it has been cooked. Never store food in the cast iron pan as the acid in the food will breakdown the seasoning and take on a metallic flavour.

Drawn from the following article on

Whatscookingamerica.net

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