Cast Iron Skillets Have Served For Generations

While Enameled Cookware Is Attractive Nothing Beats The Natural Material

How To season a Cast Iron Skillet And Other Cast Iron Cookware

The cast iron skillet has long been a household favorite. For hundreds of years iron foundries have been turning raw iron ore into thousands of useful products. Cast iron can be found in automobiles, industrial equipment, military weapons and many other useful items. The most commonly known and used products by the general public may be cast iron cookware.

 Many of the earliest cast iron products were large tubs and pots used for making lye soap or for cooking meals over open fires in the open and fireplaces in early log cabins and other homes. Through the years homemakers have become extremely fond of cast iron kitchen products such as skillets, dutch ovens, muffin pans, pots and pans of every conceivable size and shape and even products used for Asian stir frying such as the cast iron wok.

 Cast Iron Skillets Have Served For Generations

 Some cooks have used large skillets and frying pans for decades and would never part with them because one quality of cast iron is when properly cared for it improves with age. This is not so true of other cooking utensil materials such as steel and aluminum which may degrade over time.

 However as with anything in life there is usually always a down side to every thing produced. While the virtues of cast iron cookware have been appreciated for hundreds of years the fact that they are made from iron can pose a problem. That problem is rust. Unprotected objects made from iron will over time rust. The material if left unprotected will do it's best to return to it's natural state of iron ore.

 Because of this trait many manufacturers over the years have devised mechanical methods to protect or beautify cast iron cookware. Enameled cookware has alway been popular for its beauty and ability to resist rust.

 While Enameled Cookware Is Attractive Nothing Beats The Natural Material

 Many different methods have been devised over the years to add non stick coatings to the interior of this cookware to protect it and also to attempt to make clean up a simple chore. While the enameled cookware does have the added advantage of decorating a kitchen or dinner table with it's brightly covered coatings, this and non stick coatings do not offer the best condition for obtaining the best use from cast iron.

 Many non stick coating will fail over the years and flake off. There have also been many stories of possible health problems from ingesting these coatings. Actually the best surface for obtaining the best qualities of cast cookware is a natural, uncoated surface protected by proper seasoning.

 Once a proper seasoning has been achieved the cookware will only need minor care to keep it in top condition. Basically seasoning cast iron cookware involves coating it with an oil such as vegetable oil and applying heat which allows the metal to absorb the oil. After this each time the utensil is used to cook a meal the seasoned surface will absorb some of the juices produced by cooking wihich enhances the coating and further prevents these juices from being absorbed in the food.

 Many cooks will swear that the best tasting meals can only be produced by using cast iron cookware. Cast iron has the ability to transfer heat throughout the utensil which helps to thoroughly cook food and save energy.

 Applying a proper seasoning is a simple task. First wash the utensil with mild soap and hot water. Unless there is solid residue in the utensil do not use steel wool pads to scrub. Light rust should pose no problem but if there is heavy rust and pitting such as may be found in a utensil that has been badly negleted it will need some additional treatment which I will cover in an additional article.

 Once the utensil has been washed place it upside down over the stove burner at low heat until it is completely dry. Now for the magic. While the pan is still hot apply a light coating of oil such as vegetable, coconut or other suitable cooking oil to the interior and outside using crumpled up paper towels held in tongs to make sure all the surfaces are covered.

 Once it is completely covered place it in the over at 350 to 500 degrees and allow it to evenly heat for about 30 minutes. The oiling operation will normally be smokey so if yo have a hood fan or other wall or portable fan available it will help to remove the smoke from this operation.

 If your utensil has a handle made of wood or material other than cast iron you will need to do the final heating over a stove burner because the handle could be damaged in the oven. By the way it would be good to keep this in mind if you are purchasing a new utensil. Decide if a non cast iron handle is really a benefit or a nuisance before making your purchase.

 Your utensil should now have an even black coating overall. Some cooks like to take a further step with skillets and fry bacon or other greasy food to further improve the seasoning. Each time you use your cast iron cookware from now on it will become further seasoned.

 The only maintenance it should require is a mild washing with warm water after use and a thorough drying before storing it. Try to store it in an airy dry situation. Hanging pot racks or wall racks work very nicely for storing some of these utensils.

 While cast iron cookware will not serve every cooking need it will enhance almost any meal you prepare in it. Be sure to properly clean cast iron and take care to have well seasond cast iron and your utensils will reward yo with years of service and most likely become prized possesions when passed on to your children.