Don’t worry, we will find you some answers and more in our beginner’s guide to cast iron cookware. Since iron was readily available, affordable, and durable, cast iron cookware became a norm in the majority of households.
Cast iron cookware is made from pure molten iron and no adulterated metals. In the 1950s and 60s, when nonstick cookware was introduced, the popularity of cast iron was negatively impacted.
Now, your cast iron cookware will need seasoning in the beginning, but once it has a nice sheen on it, it is better than your nonstick pans. You don’t have to use a lot of oil when cooking in a nice nonstick cast iron skillet.
People suffering from iron deficiency are advised to eat foods cooked in cast iron cookware. It serves the dual purpose and can be put inside an oven at any temperature.
Seasoning is the process of adding and maintaining a natural nonstick sheen to the cast iron surface. Since they don’t contain chemically coated protective surfaces, seasoning is crucial, and the first thing to do when you buy an iron skillet or pan.
The best way to season your cast iron skillet is to heat oil or fat until it starts to smoke. And as you cook, over time, it will naturally start forming a nonstick protective coating.
People oil their cast iron pan or skillet before storing away. It is a part of the maintenance procedure that the cast iron utensil has to go through throughout its lifetime.
Oil adds a protective layer over the iron, preventing it from rusting or oxidizing. If there are some serious bits attached to the cast iron surface, scrub it with oil and salt.
I remember years ago being super intrigued by cast iron but hearing about how it had to be seasoned, how it couldn’t be cleaned with soap, etc…it just sounded high maintenance and complicated and I never got on board. Then about six months ago, I decided to purchase my first cast iron skillet (you can find mine here), as I wanted to phase out my Teflon pans.
Cooking with cast iron is an excellent option that does not expose your food to any harmful chemicals, like pots and pans that have non-stick coatings. The major downside to this convenient cooking surface is that this chemical has been linked to causing cancer.
Now I know what you may be thinking…it’s so much easier to cook with non-stick and switching to cast iron will be a hassle (at least that’s what I thought). Cast iron can be naturally non-stick and perform beautifully if you follow a couple simple rules.
Your pan must be nice and hot before you start cooking, or else your food will likely stick. Usually once butter is sizzling, or oil can flow quickly around the pan, it’s preheated.
If there are little bits behind that I can’t just wipe out, I will give it a little scrub in my sink (no soap remember!) Then I make sure to dry it completely before storing as water can cause rust on your cast iron.
Unlike basically every other kitchen implement (most of which can pop right into the dishwasher or sink), cast iron requires TLC and attention to survive. But with the right preparation, you can work wonders with a skillet, from curry to chicken to cornbread.
Start by washing your cast iron skillet with warm, soapy water, scrubbing with a sponge where needed. Make sure you coat the entire pan, not just the interior, in a thin layer of oil.
Once your oven has warmed, place the skillet upside down on the middle rack. “The oil or shortening drips,” Thomas warns, “so put a pan or foil below the skillet to catch anything.” Let the pan bake for about an hour, then turn off the heat and let it cool before taking it out.
She recommends seasoning, then cooking a meal with the skillet, wiping it out, and baking it again. If your skillet starts looking dull, you notice any rust, or you over-wash it, it’s a good idea to season the pan again, Thomas says.
For beginners and home cooks, she likes Lodge, a heritage brand that’s basically synonymous with cast iron. For a high-end skillet, Thomas prefers Butter Pat Industries, a Maryland-based brand producing heritage-quality pans that can even be used on glass cook tops.
“I love looking for old skillets,” says Thomas, who hunts for them at yard sales and vintage stores. Go here to join Prevention Premium (our best value, all-access plan), subscribe to the magazine, or get digital-only access.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Historians say they originated in China, and then the technique of making tools and pans from iron quickly spread around the world.
Pioneers and cowboys used these pans for cooking over an open flame when they were heading west here in the U.S.A.! Once you know how to season cast iron, you can use your pan for any recipe that calls for a nonstick skillet: scrambled eggs, pancakes, stir fries, and more.
Unlike many other nonstick skillets, cast iron is totally ovenproof, so you can start a dish on the stove top and finish it in the oven. Cast iron pans are also great for brownies and cornbread: They get screaming hot, so they leave baked goods with delicious, crispy edges.
Spread a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening in the skillet, wiping out any excess. Place a sheet of foil over the bottom rack (this will catch the oil drips in the next step).
You can technically use any oil or fat, but you'll want to use something neutral with a high smoke point (keep in mind that the pan will be in the oven for an hour). This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.
However, most people fear buying one as they are pretty delicate and require a lot of maintenance than any other cookware. Although cast iron cookware looks very tough and is extremely durable, it’s a kind of material that catches rust pretty easily.
Seasoning is a process in which you treat the cookware with hardened oil so that it sits and creates a coat over the pan to prevent it from external damages. Since we do not want any dust to season on it along with the oil coating, you can simply wash your cast iron pan with plain water for now.
As soon as you are done washing, immediately start to dry the cast iron cookware with a paper towel. It is one of the most important parts of the process as we don’t want a single drop of water to be left on the pan.
Generally, Canola oil is the standard choice of most people who practice seasoning often as it is cheap, easily available, and delivers good results as well. So, before you proceed to the next step, you should know that our main aim for this task is to put an oil coating on the cookware.
For the last step, once the pan is ready and rubbed with oil perfectly, it’s time to apply some heat to the cookware. But we need to apply the heat evenly so putting it directly over the flame is not going to work.
The main purpose of seasoning the cast iron cookware is to protect it from water damages. Although a freshly seasoned cast iron utensil is safe from water, with time, as you cook food in the pan, the layer of oil starts to worn out.
Some people make the mistake of soaking their cast iron cookware in water for a long time. By avoiding such mistakes, you can easily keep your cast iron pan in a healthy condition for a long time.