“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Revisiting Cast Iron

Last week I cooked breakfast at my MIL's home.  The skillet used for frying eggs is a non-stick skillet.  A very old non-stick pan at that.  Its surface was compromised with flaking and scratches.  I was so hungry and went ahead and used it.  All the while dreaming of my cast iron skillets back home (sigh;(  There are so many controversies about using non-stick pans that I ditched my old ones a few years ago and replaced them with a nice set of non-coated-stainless-steel ones.  These are in addition to my (3) cast iron skillets, griddle, grill pan and Dutch oven.  When properly seasoned, they are non-stick.  Some studies report that using cast iron for cooking can help impart iron to your diet.

My mid size skillet was in need of being re-seasoned.  It had developed quite a lot of build up on the inside surface.  This skillet was purchased used (at a yard sale) about 13 years ago ... and it's the first time I've super cleaned the surface (scraped/scoured/wiped down/oiled/heated to smoking point 3x's).  The grease rag is stored in a plastic coffee can under my sink and used as a bon fire starter when no longer usable.  (click photos to enlarge view)

Photos:  Top ... cast iron skillet in need of a good scrub, tools of the trade used to clean pan surface, debris removed from skillet, bottom ... re-seasoned skillet with grease rag ... ready to use.

11 comments:

Maria Stahl said...

You probably already know this: You can skip most of the scraping step by soaking your cast iron in lye water for anywhere from 12 hours to several weeks (they won't rust as long as they are completely submerged). They come out completely bare, grey metal, ready to be reseasoned.

Mrs. Mac said...

Hey Maria ... this is the old skillet I bought at your yard sale. If I knew about the lye soaking I'd have skipped all the scraping. But ... it definitely was good exercise ... and I sparingly use my lye for soap making ... it's hard to come by .. unless you mean the Drano type. Thanks for the tip:)

Roasted Garlicious said...

i love cast iron... every once in awhile i'll give my pans a good scrub, then oiling and 'cooking' in the oven.. thats it.. gotta love em!!

Cindy (Letters From Midlife) said...

I adore my large cast iron skillet. I use it almost every day even though I do have other pans.

Mr. H. said...

We switched to cast iron quite a few years back and are glad that we did. I love using them. Health reasons aside, they heat food so much more evenly and keep it warm much longer.

So I'm curious, what type of oil or grease do you prefer to use on yours?

Mrs. Mac said...

Mr. H. For a new skillet I'd use a good healthy veggie oil such as sunflower oil ... but for everyday use, my 'grease rag' usually contains a good lard (from non-nitrate bacon fat).

Kathryn said...

I'm in the process of doing this with 2 of my 3 iron skillets & the corn bread pan.

I got rid of the teflon coated pans several years ago now. It was hard to let go of them because Duane had gotten them for me when we were dating. Besides the cast iron, i collected a number of the Corningware pans & skillets. I do like them, they usually clean up well, but sometimes things tend to stick.

Oh, BTW, you might want to check into iron overload in the body, however. I limit my use of cast iron because it can contribute to too much iron which has been implicated in heart disease.

Mrs. Mac said...

Kathryn ... good tip about the iron overload ... from what I've read it's mostly a problem when cooking with high acid foods such as tomato based food .. and/or a person has overload problems to begin with ... will have to study further.

Martha said...

I love my cast iron . . . one is my grandmother's -- one my mother's and one I bought. When early married I kept smelling a funny smell whenever I cooked with my coated cookware -- figured that was NO GOOD -- and got rid of it right away for something without a coating. Am so glad I did!

Maria Stahl said...

Re. lye - yes, I mean the drain cleaner kind. :o) Red Devil Lye is pure lye, no fillers. Harder to come by now as it is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.

Mrs. Mac said...

So, Maria, that's why I had the DEA helicopter buzzing my home last summer after purchasing my lye for soap ... the gov probably keeps tabs on who makes internet purchases (NO LYE;) It was a black hawk military type ... maybe they thought I was growing more than parsley in the garden too... they were taking pictures!!!