Over the past few months as I have started using food as my medicine in healing my autoimmune disease, I have seen a lot of blurbs here and there about using certain types of cookware. For a while I was on a regimen of Chinese herbs that needed to be cooked in a nonreactive pot, kombucha needs to be made in glass… so on and so forth. So, when my grandmother gave me three cast iron pans that she had found at a consignment sale, I was curious. After fixing them up and practicing with them a few times I was hooked!
Here Are Some Benefits to Cooking in Cast Iron:
- Teflon or other brands of nonstick cookware can release dangerous fumes when overheated that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and are fatal to birds. The non stick surface also contains a substance called Perfluorooctanoic acid or (PFOA). PFOA is a manmade chemical that poses a potential health risk because it stays in the environment and in the body for long periods of time. People with large amounts of PFOA in their blood have been shown to have higher incidence of certain types of cancers. While, it is unknown at this time how big of a role nonstick cookware plays in exposure to PFOA the potential risk is certainly present. (Source)
In comparison, cast iron cookware is non-reactive, releases no harmful chemicals and is only made out of iron, not a variety of chemical coatings.
- Cast iron cookware can be used both on the stove top and in the oven and can be used to cook anything from bacon to breads!
- Cast Iron cookware will last forever, improves with age and will save you a lot of money!
- They retain heat better than nonstick pans, creating a more even and precise cooking surface (even if you have a crappy stove with crooked burners like me!)
How do I Season my Cast Iron Pan?
The most important step in caring for your cast iron pans is to season them. Seasoning them is what makes them non-stick and what keeps them from rusting or becoming damaged. This is very simple process:
- Clean your pan with soap and water: This is one of the only times you will ever use soap on your pan because if you use soap in the future you will need to re-season your pan.
- Cover the entire cooking surface of the pan with your oil of choice. This can be coconut oil, palm oil, animal fat, or a liquid olive oil. Be sure to use either a paper towel or a cloth you don’t care about because cast iron can leave marks on your towels.
- Cover the bottoms shelf of your oven with tinfoil or a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Place your pan cooking side down, in the oven and bake for 1 hour, then, without opening the door. Turn the oven off and leave the pan until it cools completely.
- When it is completely cool use a cloth to wipe out any excess oil.
- Enjoy! You can do this as many times as you want but after this initial seasoning, your pan is good to go and will be enhanced every time you cook in it.
How Do I Clean My Cast Iron Pan?
Cleaning cast iron is so simple! You simply need to remove any food from the pan. This is easiest right after cooking, so rinse your pan with water and wipe it with a soft sponge or cloth. If you have any stubborn bits of food use salt to scrub the pan. This will remove the food without damaging the seasoning of the pan. After the food is out of the pan, simply let it air dry.
The best part is, that basic cast iron cookware is extremely inexpensive. You may be able to find it at a yard sale, like my grandmother did for me, but you can also buy multiple pieces online for under $30. So, try it out! Its easy, inexpensive, improves cooking, and betters your health.
Do any of you cook with cast iron? What are your thoughts?