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You Don't Have To Be a Chef To Cook With Cast Iron

Perogi's cooked in a cast iron pan

How many of us only think of cast iron merely as a decoration you hang on a wall, like a nod to days of old, to collect dust?

Did you know that it’s making a huge comeback in the cooking world? Here’s why you should grab it from your wall, dust off and heat that bad boy up for use!

Cast iron or enamel pans were a staple in every kitchen in the world. In the 1930s Mr. DuPont came out with a protective, non porous surface called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a substance that resists corrosion and provides a smooth, frictionless application. DuPont saw value in this substance and trademarked it as Teflon. It began to be rolled out everywhere in the form of non-stick pans and cookware. Little did they know that when heated to high levels of 500 degrees and above toxic particles and gases (perfluorooctanoic acid – PFOA), some of them carcinogenic, can be released. You may think 500 degrees is pretty high but the reality is that it’s very easy to reach with everyday cooking!

What’s the solution? The good news is that you have two good options: cast iron or cast iron that is enameled, both widely available and built to last! We’re going to walk through some top tips on taking care of these workhorses and get you using it like a pro.

  1. Buy a pre-seasoned cast iron pan. (if you buy enamel you can skip this step altogether!) If you buy an unseasoned pan follow this recommendation.

  2. Clean your pan thoroughly after each use by washing it with soap and water and scrubbing out any gunk or debris from the bottom. For tough spots use salt and this chaninmail scrubby. Heard that soap isn’t good for cast iron? If you have seasoned it properly you can use soap, just don’t leave it soaking in water.

  3. Fry and Sear in it. The best way to keep your seasoning maintained? Just use your pan a lot! The more you fry, sear, or bake in it, the better that seasoning will become.

  4. Storing your cast iron is just as easy as stacking them up on eachother. The seasoning won’t wear off if you nest them.

Crispy potatoes in a cast iron pan

Now onto the good stuff, which to buy and where to buy it from! Living in Lancaster County there is definitely no shortage of stores that carry cast iron. I usually pop down to Good’s Store for a great selection. If convenience is more your speed then order them from your favorite online retailer. My favorite brand is Lodge and I would start with the 10.5” skillet. They make a ton of shapes and sizes, bakeware and enamelware so you can find one for your every need.

Follow along on our social media this month for great recipes to start your cast iron cooking journey off right and let us know what you think!

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