When I was first learning how to cook, I was nervous to use my mom's cast iron cookware- she had everything you could even imagine. I knew that they had been special gifts from my dad over the years and that they were very important to her. There was also a list that seemed to be about a mile long about how to care for them and what I could and could not cook in them. I was scared to touch them.
There were also many good memories with these pieces. We had an old Benjamin Franklin wood stove and when we would have a storm that would knock the power out, mom would make dinner, usually soup in her cast iron dutch oven, on that old wood stove. We would also use it with mom's cast iron popcorn popper on movie nights.
Well, after I moved out, mom gave me most of her cast iron and even added a few new pieces to the set. Now, I love to cook with cast iron and love making memories with my family with these special items.
Over the years, I have learned some things about caring for cast iron and what might as well be dubbed old wives tales.
1. You can cook tomato based foods in cast iron. My mom always said: whatever you do, do not cook tomato based foods in it. I cook my spaghetti sauce in cast iron all the time- just don't let it sit in it too long. After it is finished, go ahead and pour it into a bowl.
2. You can wash it between seasonings. Just dry it with a towel and put it away- it isn't good to let it air dry. I will admit, though, it could make a difference what you use to clean it with. I use original Dawn, so I'm not sure what other detergents and soaps will do. Although you can wash it, usually wiping with a paper towel will do the trick (I don't do this because we cook a lot of game meat and I'm too paranoid about making someone sick)
3. If it is rusted, it's ok. Iron can almost always be restored. Clean it well, even use a scouring pad if needed and season it. You can also use baking soda to clean the rust off.
4. Seasoning: There are many options. However, the best option or most households is to use a cooking "lard," like Crisco. Coat the pay/ pot with the oil/ lard that you choose - but use it sparingly. Then, bake it in an oven of 400 degrees for about an hour. You should be good to go. There are many different ways to do this, this just happens to be the way I do it.
5. When you cook with iron, you do get a little extra iron in your diet.
6. Cast Iron cookware will last your lifetime and make an amazing family heirloom.
7. Cast iron retains heat really well, distributes heat evenly, and is the most non-stick pan you will find.
8. A single cast iron skillet will allow you to fry, saute, simmer, bake, and more. You can use it on a stove, in an oven, and on a fire.
9. The more you use cast iron, the better it performs, the better it flavors your food, and the better you get at it.
10. Cast Iron may be intimidating, but with practice, you will get it- just cook to your heart's content- try bacon or french fries first.
I hope these tips helps you brave the world of Cast Iron. Do you have tips you would like to share?