Sunday, October 24, 2010

Loving My Cast Iron

As a wedding gift, my husband and I received a really nice set of Belgique cookware. This set included stainless steel pots, nonstick pans and the corresponding lids. I was thrilled to own such a nice set of cookware. What a blessing!

Over the years I used these pots and pans constantly. Slowly, the nonstick coating on my pans started to deteriorate. Eventually, it began to flake off. The thought of feeding Teflon flakes along with dinner, or should I say in dinner, rather disgusted me. In response I tossed the pans and replaced them with new nonstick pans.

After repeating this process a few times, I became rather frustrated. Would this define my cooking life? Would I always purchase nice nonstick pans only to replace them in a couple of years? It just didn't seem right that my pots continued to last while my pans appeared to be a disposable item.

So my search began. Could I find pans that would be a one time investment? Stainless steel pans last, but they are not nonstick at all. Finally, my search ended with cast iron pans.

My cast iron adventures started at Costco with the purchase of a set of 2 Lodge cast iron skillets. Through trial and error I learned many things about cast iron pans. I realized that liquid cannot sit in them. (They rust.) I realized that they need to be cleaned relatively soon after a meal. (Again, they rust.) I realized that rust is removable and the pans can be reseasoned. (Thank you, my husband.) I realized that the pans do not start out very non-stick. (They need to be used and seasoned.) And I realized that the pans improve with age and use.

Today, my collection has expanded to the set pictured above. My pans are not rusty (um, other than some small spots on the bottoms of a couple of pans), but well used and seasoned. These pans can perfectly cook in a nonstick sort of way hash browns, eggs, vegetables, and meat. These pans are not nonstick, they are even better. They will continue to stand the test of time and be a valuable investment.


  1. Now the next thing on my list is cast iron pans! I've been going through non-stick pans with every breath I took! Thanks!!!

  2. I totally agree. I loved my Teflon pans when they were new but did not like having to replace them. I my my cast iron pan. They have some enamel coated cast iron that i want to try. Great post.

  3. Interesting. I received a cast iron pan as a wedding present, but used it a few times and didn't like it. Maybe I just didn't know enough about them. For instance, I didn't know they got better with each use! Hm, now I'm wishing I hadn't sold it at a garage sale years ago. I do dislike how heavy and cumbersome they are though.

  4. I have cast iron griddle envy! It's on my Christmas list this year! Unfortunately, I threw out some cast iron when they got rusty so now I have to build up my collection. In the meantime I am learning to cook with my stainless pretty well. I also LOVE enamelware- I probably use my enameled dutch oven 3x a week! Good post!

  5. Yes, Megan, my griddle was actually the inspiration for this post. I made hash browns on it yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed how the potatoes did not stick and flipped perfectly.

    Krystal, I haven't tried the enamel coated pans. You will have to let me know how they are!

    Pascale and Sara, cast iron does have a bit of a learning curve. You have to get used to using it and caring for it, but the rewards are totally worth the effort. If you have ever used stoneware for baking, it is fairly similar. It improves as it is seasoned.

  6. How do you wash and season them? I know that soap is a no-no for cast iron, but my skillet just doesn't seem to be working for me. I still like using it, but I would use it more if it were easier to get good, consistent results.

    Oh, and you are NOT supposed to use cast iron on a flat-top stove, it will scratch it and stain it. Ask me how I know... :(

  7. I scrub my pans under hot water with a scrub brush. That seems to work great. Then every time after I wash a pan, I heat it up on the stove until it is completely dry. While it is still HOT I either spray it with oil or rub in some oil. You can also periodically heat them in the oven and rub oil into them, leaving them in the hot oven for a while.

    It is really great for the pans to cook some good fatty food in them periodically. So if I am cooking up some ground beef, I decide which of my pans looks like it is the least seasoned and use that pan. Take the meat out and let the fat cool in the pan. When cool, just scrape out the fat, do a quick wash, heated dry, and oil rub. Works great for seasoning a pan!