I love cast-iron and this is an unashamed ode to my favourite cookware.
When I think of a dutch oven or a spider kettle my head swims with visions of Ma Ingalls on the prairie cooking corn cakes and stew over an open fire. It makes me think of my own Mom’s Tamale pie always cooked in the cast-iron chicken fryer or my Dad’s Sunday morning eggs cooked in bacon grease in the cast-iron frypan
It makes me think of my own Mom’s Tamale pie always cooked in the cast-iron chicken fryer or my Dad’s Sunday morning eggs cooked in bacon grease in the cast-iron frypan
The history of cast-iron cookware goes back to China at least 2,000 years ago and was the primary cookware of the 19th century unless you were posh enough for copper.
To read more on the history of cast-iron cookware check out this post by Samantha Johnson.
This isn’t a history lesson. It is a love story.
12 wonderful things about Cast-iron
- The weight of it-it is satisfyingly heavy. What may deter other cooks attracts me.
- Even cooking -at high and very low temperatures (has to do with its heaviness)
- The original Non-stick skillet-If properly seasoned it outperforms stainless-steel and aluminium by a country mile and is better than Teflon or other advertised “non-stick” pans.
- Easy to clean– I’m not kidding, no soap required and if you follow the three tips below you won’t ever use elbow grease again on your cast-iron.
- Great for Anemia-cooking in cast-iron increases the iron content of everything you cook in it not just red meat and leafy greens. WARNING: If you have hemochromatosis, do not use cast-iron.
- Browning– I can get almost anything to take on a lovely golden hue in my cast-iron pan
- Indestructible-this is probably the most important thing for this 1880s girl. The only thing that will ruin your cast-iron is if you leave it out in the rain or leave it sprinkled with water, even then the damage is mostly reversible if you get on to it.
- Scratch resistant-I never remember to avoid metal on the non-stick cookware, cast-iron can take any utensil, wood, plastic and metal, even forks and knives for the hurried cook.
- It Looks Good -I love the individuality of cast iron, every piece has its own character
- The feel– I’m a tactile person and I love running my hand over the sometimes rough and pock-marked surface of my cast-iron cookware.
- Versatility-It goes from stove top to oven without fear of shattering or warping, it bakes fries, stews, braises and browns, it is the true all-purpose cookware. And can be used on an open fire.
- A piece of History– I feel more my 1880s self when I cook with cast-iron, knowing it is the way my grandmothers have been doing it for centuries.
I could go on and on about how much I love my cast-iron and anyone who comes to dinner at my place will hear me extol its virtues. But it is true cast-iron doesn’t suit everyone.
The Draw Backs
Cast-iron is just about perfect in my eyes but it does have special considerations
- If you drop it on the floor it will make a dent or crack the tiles, or break your toe.
- It is not user-friendly for those suffering arthritis in their hands, carpal tunnel syndrome or having a flare up of RSI
- If you leave food in the pan over night it will take on a very strong iron taste, not recommended.
- Seasoning your cast-iron is likely to set off your smoke alarm.
1880s girl’s top tips for cast-iron care
- Always heat dry your pans/pots and rub them with oil, let them smoke a bit, it keeps them well seasoned.
- When there are fried bits stuck to your pans or up the sides of the pot, cover with water and bring to the boil for 5 minutes, everything will come off, just wipe clean and heat dry
- Use steel wool for any stubborn bits or drips on the outside of the pot/pan.
Once you’ve come to know your cast-iron you’ll never look back.
PS This post is not in any way sponsered or linked to manufacturers of cast-iron, I just simply adore it and want to tell you how much.