Cast Iron Pans


Iron cooking vessels have been around as long as there has been iron. It has been a durable material throughout history for cooking and stewing food. What makes me scratch my head is that for as long as Cast Iron Pans have been around, a lot of people do not know how to use them, and at one time I could include myself in this group. I remember being greatly intimidated by them, but they are one of the oldest cooking tools still in use today. How complicated could it be? If you read a lot of the articles out there, it can seem fairly complicated, and therefore not worth the time. Especially since they make pans today that are super nonstick and can go through your dish machine to be cleaned and sterilized.

There a lot of voices out there making it sound like a lot of work to use and care for these culinary vessels, but I am going to let you in on a little secret…it is easy. To back me up I want to you to think about “Cookie” out on the trail heading west into the American Frontier during the 1800’s. I guarantee he did not have a dishwasher in the back of his wagon and I am sure that sanitation was a word he probably didn’t even know.

I, myself, have 3 Cast Iron Pans that I love. All of them are well seasoned. One of them is so seasoned and slick, that I can flip omelets in it. Now, I did try one of the “seasoning methods” on one of them, with awful results. The oven method. You all know it and it didn’t work for me. That is when I decided to just treat them like any other pan. Use it, clean it, dry it, put it away. That was the ticket.

When I first got each pan (1 purchased at a store, 1 from a garage sale, and 1 from family), I thoroughly cleaned each of them with soap and a steel scrub. I wanted to make sure that the seasoning I put on there was all my own. Well, then I was presented with my first problem. Wet cast iron. Rust city. I could wipe them down with a towel, but I didn’t feel confident I would get all of the moisture. Looking at my stove, it hit me. I placed them on the burners and turned them on medium low, set a timer for 15 minutes and walked away. When the timer sounded, I came back and they were dry and HOT. This was my first seasoning chance. I put some oil in each one (coconut) and smeared it all over each pan (not the bottom), then I turned off the heat and let them cool on the burners. When they cooled, I wiped out any extra oil and stored them.
This is the process I have continued to use each time and I love it. I bring the pan up to temp slowly, because they can warp over high heat. I cook whatever I need and then clean it. Now sometimes I have to use soap and scrub, if what I cooked was sticky, such as some marinades, but most of the time I can wipe out the pan with a paper towel, let it cool and store it away. Each time I use it with this method I am building seasoning and I am not doing any extra work. You will find that your Cast Iron Pan will become your go to for so many dishes.

I hope that you find this information as useful as I did and I hope that if you were intimidated, that you are no longer.

image001 Chef Russ