The kitchen has always been my “happy place”. I grew up cooking, I was blessed with a mother that allowed me great freedom in the kitchen (thanks mom!). Occasionally Sunday morning dad would fry up some bacon in our old cast iron skillet. That bacon always tasted the best! I don’t know if it was the novelty of my dad at the stove or that fabulous pan. I had the crazy idea that someday it would be mine, but no! My dear brother called dibs! We all know “dibs” is sibling law.
Yup, that’s the sneaky guy! I had to come to grips with the fact that I would have to actually purchase my own cast iron pans! I have had my pans for decades now. And since my mom is still using hers I think Mr. Sneaky has only been able to get one of her pans:)
There are not too many things that truly get better with age. Wine, cheese, and cast iron! Here is where we get into the sciency stuff. The seasoning on cast iron is formed by fat polymerization. If you like the sciency stuff you can look that up and get more information :). You will find that every cast iron user has their favorite way of seasoning and cleaning. Having grown up using cast iron, I really don’t think you need to get bogged down with all of that. The easiest approach to cast iron is just use it. Use it a lot. If you purchase a new pan you may find that most of them have already been “seasoned”. That doesn’t mean it will be fantastic right away. Cast iron is a long term commitment. That is what makes hand-me-down pans so fantastic! You will need to use oils and butter as you would with any other pan. Over time you will need less and less.
A controversial issue with cast iron is how do you clean it? Some will tell you never use soap and water. I will say rarely. I found that when my cast iron was new there were times a needed a little soap. Just make sure you oil it down and heat it up a bit afterwards.
DO NOT put your pan in the dishwasher.
My favorite way to clean my pans is rinse them while still hot and then use a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and a nylon scrub brush. I put it on a hot stove top or in the oven to dry. You may want to rub it down with a little cooking oil before storage.
I have found many articles written about the health benefits of cast iron and, for myself, I believe them. I believe that there is benefit to getting as close to “nature” with everything you do. I hope you make wonderful memories around your cast iron!
One of my favorite recipes for my 10″ cast iron skillet is cornbread. Here is my tasty gluten-free recipe. So yummy with a dab of organic butter and your favorite local honey!
1 cup All purpose gluten free flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup of coconut oil or melted butter
(if you use salted butter omit the salt above)
1 egg slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter for pan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 1 Tablespoon of butter or oil in 10″ cast iron pan and place in the oven.
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium sized bowl and set aside.
In another medium sized bowl combine water, egg and oil (or butter) and wisk slightly. Remove preheated pan from oven and swirl the fat around to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir. Do not over stir. Pour immediately into hot pan and return pan to the oven. Bake about 20 minutes. Enjoy!