My favorite type of cookware is cast iron. The stuff will last for generations if you take care of it. It cooks evenly and holds up to just about anything. I’ve never seen a handle break off or melt, a skillet warp, or have one dent when I dropped it. My kitchen tile didn’t hold up nearly as well as my skillet.
I have a cast iron skillet that belonged to my grandmother. She taught me to scramble eggs in it when I was a kid, so it’s at least 40 years old and probably much older. I love it so much that I bought three others in various sizes. I also have a cast iron Dutch oven that my mother gave me for my birthday one year. I would be lost without it. It’s my go-to pan for cooking baked beans, scalloped potatoes, and so much more.
While cast iron is by far the toughest cookware to my knowledge, there is a proper way to care for it. Cast iron needs to be seasoned, which is a simple process. You do the same thing whether you are seasoning a brand new unseasoned piece or one that is getting dull. Simply hand wash and dry it thoroughly, rub some oil such as canola all over the inside and outside of the pan, then bake it in a 350 degree oven upside down on the middle rack for an hour and a half. You can use any type of cooking oil you like, but I prefer canola oil because it has a higher spoke point than many other oils. It’s a good idea to put something on the lower rack such as a cookie sheet or aluminum foil to catch any drips.
Keeping your cookware in top condition is fairly simple. Hand wash it after cooking as soon as it’s cool enough to handle and dry it immediately. It’s also a good idea to rub a little oil on the inside now and then. My husband has a horrible habit of putting my cast iron in the dishwasher. Please don’t do that. The dishwasher strips the seasoning right off of your cookware and causes rust. If someone does wash your cast iron in the dishwasher, scrub any rust off and season it as mentioned above as soon as possible.
There are many conflicting opinions when it comes to care of cast iron. I have a couple of friends who insist that you should never use dish soap on your cast iron cookware. I use Dawn Dishwashing Liquid to clean mine. While maintaining the seasoning is important, I can’t stand the thought of using a dirty skillet or pan. If it’s dried immediately after washing, the seasoning remains just fine. I’ve been cooking in cast iron for well over 30 years and haven’t ruined a pan yet.
My mother always told me it was a good idea to keep at least one cast iron skillet in the kitchen. It can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, over an open fire, and can also double as a weapon if I need one. Yes, they are really that heavy.
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