Today, many opt for the convenience and ease of care of non-stick pans. They’re easy to cook in, and easy to clean. For delicate recipes such as omelets and crepes, you wouldn’t want to use a steel or aluminum pan.
In the old West, cast iron cooking vessels were common. We’ve all seen a John Wayne western or two where some disheveled cowboy is cookin’ up some vittles in a giant cast iron pot over a wood-burning fire. Today, cast iron pots and pans are still around and are probably the healthiest way to cook without fear of chemicals from nonstick varieties.
The most common reason people cite for not using cast iron cookware is that it’s hard to clean. Today, we’ll take a look at this concern and how cleaning cast iron pans may not necessarily be all that much more difficult than nonstick cookware.
Many people avoid cast iron pans because they fear they will rust. In a very humid climate such as the Southeast or Hawaii, that is more likely. However in drier climes such as Arizona or Texas, it is not a problem at all. In order to avert rust, simply keep the inside of the pan coated with oil at all times.
Stick vs. Nonstick
Many people refuse cast iron pans because they fear food will stick to the pan and it will be hard to clean. While some may disagree, even saying cast iron is “natural nonstick,” I’m here to tell you that like steel pans or anything else, some food will stick to the inside of the pan and there’s not much you can do to avoid that. Let’s take a look at some cleaning tips for cast iron pans:
1) Always coat the pan with oil before you cook in it. This creates a mostly nonstick cooking surface.
2) Watch what you cook in cast iron pans. If you’re cooking a recipe that calls for the caramelization of sugar, for example, you’ll probably want to use a nonstick pan. But if you’re just cooking a couple burgers, a cast iron skillet is fine. Basically, anything especially sticky or fragile (such as fish) may not be good for cast iron.
3) After cooking, fill the pan with water and boil. This is probably the most useful bit of information you’ll read today. After you’re done cooking and you’ve removed the food from the cast iron pan, fill the pan halfway with water, place back on the stove, and boil. Remove pan from heat and let cool. This one step has saved me much heartache and scrubbing!
4) Buy a wire brush. Though boiling water in the pan does save you some elbow grease, no doubt you’ll still have to scrub a little every now and then. Purchase a steel wire brush; they work great.
5) Detergents. Use your normal dish washing detergent to wash the pans. When you’re done rinsing the pan, immediately wipe it out until fully dry. This will avoid rust.
The benefits of cast iron cooking include peace of mind healthwise and the fact that you’ll never have to buy another pan ever again. Through years of frequent use, the pan will blacken and the inside will become somewhat glossy and smooth. This helps its mostly nonstick characteristics and shows what a dedicated foodie you’ve been for so many years!