A cast Iron Cookware set is not a dream anymore! Cast iron cookware is favored by cooks who like the healthy and naturally nonstick surface of cast iron. Cooks will be pleased to know that manufacturers are making additional cast iron cookware pieces that make up a full cookware set. What was once just a frying pan and Dutch oven, is now growing to include casserole dishes, sauce pans, saute pans, and other essential pieces of cookware. Enameled cast iron cookware is leading the trend with its luxurious colors and added food storage capabilities.
The Popularity of Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware has been popular for a very long time because of its heat distribution and retention capabilities. Still a camp favorite for that overnight camping trip, new variations of cast iron cookware introduce colors and flexibility with enameled surfaces. Manufacturers are creating essential cookware pieces made of enameled cast iron with colors that fit any kitchen decor. Able to go from stove top or oven right to the kitchen table in fashionable style makes cast iron as popular as ever. Some enameled surfaces, being non reactive with food, even allow for marinating food and food storage after it is cooked.
Traditional cast iron needs to be seasoned. Seasoning cast iron cookware is a process of adding a quality oil to the inside of the cookware and baking it for an hour at 350 degrees. The seasoning process fills in the porous surface providing a naturally non stick surface. Enameled cast iron cookware does not need to be seasoned.
Always be sure to read the care and use instructions of your cast iron cookware. Most will recommend hand washing, even the enameled items that can be placed in an automatic dishwasher. Traditional pieces definitely need to be hand washed and dried immediately.
Cast iron cookware, always a kitchen favorite, is growing even more popular with luxuriously colored enamel surfaces and essential cookware pieces. Popular brands like Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, and Calphalon have attractive and functional cast iron cookware pieces.
Why You Need to Season Cast Iron Cookware
When properly maintained, cast iron cookware can provide a nearly nonstick surface. As it is used, the oils fill in the pores of the pan or skillet, and helps release food from the cookware. If food sticks to your cast iron cookware, it is not seasoned enough or properly.
Steps on how to season cast iron cookware:
Clean and Dry The Cookware Thoroughly
The first step of the seasoning process is to make sure the pan or skillet is properly cleaned. Rinse the pan out with warm, non-soapy, water. Using a stiff bristled brush, scraping any deposits off the pan. Only if there are some seriously stuck on deposits is it OK to use soapy water. The soap will take away whatever seasoning has built up.
Once the pan or skillet is cleaned, dry it thoroughly with paper towels or a clean dry rag.
Appling the Seasoning Oil:
Once the pan or skillet is dry, apply your seasoning oil. Use a neutral oil like food grade coconut oil, vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard. flax seed oil works wonders also! You can use wax paper or a clean rag to apply the seasoning. Paper towels are not the best to use because some paper remnants can stick to the cookware.
It is very important NOT to apply too much oil. If it builds up after the heating process, and is stored, the oil can become rancid. That’s not good.
Cook the cast iron in the oven:
Heat the oven to around 350 degrees. For flax seed oil, use a higher temp like 450.
Place the pan or skillet upside down on the top shelf of the oven.
Place a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom shelf to catch any drippings.
Cook for 30 – 60 minutes.
After the cast iron has cooked for 30 to 60 minutes, place it on the stove top or a cooling rack to let it cool.
Cool and store properly:
It is best to use cast iron cookware nearly every day. Using it and cleaning it properly on a regular basis builds up the best seasoning. If it must be stored, place a layer of paper towels or a rag on the bottom of the shelf. Store the cookware upside down, making sure there is air circulation around the cookware. Do not store lids on the pan as it locks in air. Seasoned cast iron needs to have ample air circulation. Locked in air will cause the baked in oil to become rancid. That’s not good.
When you are ready to use the cast iron cookware after it has been stored, rinse it with warm, non soapy water, and dry with a clean rag or paper towel. The use of soap will remove the seasoning. Properly seasoned cast iron cookware is a joy to use. The heating properties of cast iron and the nonstick surface will do a great job on whatever you cook, making you look like a professional chef! If you use cast iron to cook with let us know what your opinion is on them here at http://www.whatsupcooks.com. We would love to hear from you.