What is Cast Iron?
Cast iron is a combination of iron ore and other types of metal that are melted down in a blast furnace to form molten iron. The molten iron is put into molds to make various pieces of cookware. Once the mold cools down, the workers or machine remove the pan, and the finishing work begins. The final product is ready to be shipped.
What is Seasoning?
Seasoning is the process of baking oil into your pan. When you bake the oil into the pan, you are protecting it from the elements and building up a hard nonstick surface that, over time, makes your cast iron smooth. There are two ways to season: in the oven and cooking with your cast iron.
How Do I Season Cast Iron?
To season your cast iron in the oven, you will coat the entire pan with a thin layer of oil and bake it at 450 degrees F for one hour. Place the cookware upside down and put a baking sheet or aluminum foil on a lower rack to catch any potential oil drips.
The most natural way to season your pan is to cook with it. After each use, you will clean your cast iron and cover the surface with a thin coat of oil, just like you do when seasoning in the oven. But instead of baking it in the oven, your pan is ready for the next time you cook with it. Because the oil protects the pan from the elements, it is best to season after each use.
Before you begin cooking, add a little oil to the pan to keep your food from sticking. Over time, as the layers build up, you will get a smooth, nonstick pan.
What is the Best Oil to Use?
All cooking oils will work. The best oil is whatever you have available or want to use. Different oils have different smoke points, and some oils will flavor your food. So you might want to keep that in mind. People have different opinions about the best oil, but everyone agrees that you can use all oils.
When seasoning your pan in preparation for the next time you cook, I would not use lard or bacon grease in pans you don’t use very often. Fat that sits out for long periods will go bad.
Why is My Pan Sticky?
Too much oil has built up in your pan. You need to fix this problem by putting the pan in the oven at 450 degrees F for one hour. Then, let the pan cool and repeat if it is still sticky.
What If I See Rust?
You might see rust in your pan if any part of it is exposed to oxygen and moisture too long. Soaking, putting it in the dishwasher, allowing your pan to air dry, or not drying it all the way can all be reasons rust may appear. Drying and adding a thin layer of oil or cooking spray after each use will go a long way in preventing rust from forming.
To get rid of the rust:
- Clean it off with a scouring pad and warm, soapy water.
- Once the rust is gone, dry the pan and cover it entirely with a thin layer of oil, then put it in the oven at 450 degrees F for one hour.
- Let the pan cool completely, and repeat the process if you still see any rust.
How Do I Clean Cast Iron?
Cleaning cast iron is a bit more involved than other types of cookware. But that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. On the contrary, it becomes second nature fairly quickly. The first thing to do is remove any food left in the pan, then rinse with hot water. Next, take a brush and a little soap (if desired) and clean the pan. After that, dry the pan thoroughly. Once the pan is dry, add a thin layer of oil over the entire pan with a paper towel. It is now ready for storing until the next time you use it.
Can I Use Soap?
Yes. You may have heard that you can’t, but I use it occasionally when I clean my pans. Lodge, a reputable name in cast iron, also says soap is okay.
What Are the Benefits of Cooking With Cast Iron?
There are many benefits to cooking with cast iron, but here are some of the most common reasons: it’s durable, and you can pass it down. The food stays hot longer in the pan and cooks more evenly if you preheat it properly. In addition, cast iron gets better with time and becomes more nonstick with use. One other benefit is you can use it in your oven, on the stove, or grill, and over a campfire. You can use cast iron anywhere. And I personally like the taste of the food better.
What is the Smoking Point?
The smoking point is when the oil begins to bond with your pan. This process is called polymerization–the oil changes from a liquid to a slick, hard surface. The oil fills in any uneven or bumpy surfaces in the pan to form a nonstick smooth surface. Different oils have different smoking points.
Flaxseed has the lowest smoking point at 225 degrees F, and avocado oil has the highest smoking point at 520 degrees F. A few of the more common oils people use fall in between. For example, vegetable oil has a smoking point of 400 degrees F, and canola oil is 425 degrees F. Corn oil’s smoking point is 450 degrees F, and vegetable shortening is 360 degrees F.
What is Enameled Cast Iron?
Enameled Cast iron has all the benefits of regular cast iron combined with the beauty of enamel. One of the benefits of having enamel is that you don’t have to worry about rust since the iron is covered. On the other hand, enamel cookware is a bit more delicate and shouldn’t be stacked.
Can I Use Metal Utensils on My Cast Iron?
Yes, you can use any utensil on cast iron, including metal.
Can I Put Cast Iron on My Glass Cooktop?
Yes, but you might want to lift the pan rather than slide it. Glass cooktops are more susceptible to scratching.
Can I Cook Acidic or Alkaline Foods in Cast Iron?
Yes, you can. Acidic food interacts with the cast iron differently and removes the seasoning more quickly. So you may either want to limit how often you cook acidic foods or reseason your pan in the oven more often. To reseason, cover the pan with a thin layer of oil and bake in a 450-degree F oven for one hour. Reseasoning will restore your pan.
Is It Possible to Ruin or Break Cast Iron?
Cast iron is incredibly durable but not unbreakable. As a result, it is possible to ruin your pan by breaking it. So unless you are trying to break it, I wouldn’t take a chisel and hammer or a sledgehammer to it.
Can I Use Cast Iron on An Induction Cooktop?
Yes, cast iron does just fine on an induction cooktop. It is actually one of the better choices in cookware to use on an induction cooktop because it is metallic.