A cast-iron pan is from an age-old material, known for it’s versatile usage and durability. They can last a lifetime if you treat them well. Cast-iron cookware has made a comeback in recent times because people are realizing its value. They come in handy to make all kinds of food, enhance the flavor, and are easy to use. Here are some reasons why you should have a cast-iron pan in your kitchen.
Cast-iron cookware is basically indestructible. The heavy-duty kitchen equipment can last indefinitely if you take good care of them. Families passing on this durable cookware to the next generation is not uncommon. They are tough enough to be used for any of your culinary adventures. These pans can be easily repaired if scratched or damaged. And if they get rusty, re-seasoning is the answer.
Cast-iron pans are a solid investment. They are cheaper than non-stick pans and are available at local home-goods stores. While the surfaces of non-stick pans can get easily scratched, the cast iron skillet doesn’t get damaged easily and can be repaired by re-seasoning. In fact, the more you season, the better it gets. A cast-iron pan will usually cost you between $15 and $20. Since these pans are tough, they usually make for a one time purchase.
The best part is that the pans get better with age because the seasoning makes them more non-stick. The more you use the pan, the oils you cook with settle into the surface. You’ll need less oil to cook with when you use this cookware.
Not only can they be used for searing, braising, sautéing, pan-frying, baking, roasting, broiling, but also for making tons of sweet recipes. This means you can use this valuable tool for making breakfast, entrees, vegetables, desserts and a number of dishes you love. The older and more seasoned your pan is, the more flavor it will add to whatever you are cooking. The skillets can also be used to serve food, this makes for an attractive presentation and it also means having fewer dishes to wash.
When you cook in a cast-iron skillet, it releases a small amount of iron into your food, and iron is an essential mineral that your body needs. It also increases the iron content of acidic foods with high moisture, like when making a tomato sauce or an apple sauce. The iron levels are also impacted when you cook food for a long period of time and stir frequently in these pans. If you do not want too much iron then make sure to use a seasoned pan.
The material makes them easy to use on any heat source from open flame, grill, stovetop, oven to induction. As the skillet is able to distribute heat evenly, it makes cooking food easy and enhances the quality of the dishes you make in it. Not only are they great for flavorful searing, but you also get a naturally non-stick surface to scramble an egg, make bacon and other food items more easily than in other pans. This is so because when you cook in them, the pan creates a natural protective layer which is helpful to let the food slide off the pan easily.
Cast iron skillets are natural because the pans are made of natural materials like iron and oil. They are free of chemicals like perfluorocarbons used in non-stick pans. This makes the centuries-old cooking material beneficial as you get to enjoy clean and healthy cooking.
When it comes to heating the cast-iron cookware works perfectly. Since the skillet is made of iron, it can get extremely hot and can stay hot for a long period of time. This property comes quite handy when you are searing meats to get that attractive char on your juicy steak and when roasting chicken and vegetables. You can experiment all you like, bake a gooey skillet cookie or a perfect loaf of bread, because when cooking food with these pans is a pleasure.
Do not use soap to wash them unless you want to re-season them. The best way to clean them is to soak them in hot water and scrub with a brush. Washing the pan immediately after use will make the cleaning easier. For stubborn food that refuses to release, you can boil water in the pan and wait for 10 minutes before rinsing. Do not let the cast iron skillet dry naturally because this will result in rusting. You should towel dry it and then place it in the stove on a low heat to let it dry.
When food begins to stick on your pan or when the color changes you will know it is time to re-season your cast-iron skillet. The versatile pan can be easily restored through the seasoning process.
Preheat the oven and put foil at the base. After cleaning your pan with mild soap and hot water, scrub the entire pan down to the base layer. Dry it with a towel after rinsing. The cast iron skillet should be bone-dry to prevent it from rusting; you can make sure that it is so by keeping it on a stove top or in the oven so the excess water on it boils off. Now spread a small drop of oil on the surface of the pan and spread it with a dish towel on both the inside and outside of the pan. Wipe off any excess oil. It should only be enough to fill the pores in order to have a smooth, nonstick surface.
Once the coating of oil is done, put it in the hot oven upside down for almost an hour. The temperature should be high, somewhere between 450°F and 500°F, as it will allow the oil to break down and bond with cast iron. Now wait for the pan to cool down in the oven before taking it out.
Seasoning is meant to give your pan the hard, glassy layer that protects it and makes it nonstick. You can repeat the process whenever you feel the need, but twice a year is good enough.
While cooking, the pots and pans we use are as important as the ingredients that go in them. Now you know more about the cast-iron pan that has been around a long time and for good reasons! Try out your next meal using your new cast-iron skillet.