Cast iron and you

Discussion in 'Recipe Share' started by NaeKid, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    I have tried just about every kind of cook-ware available. Glass. Ceramic. Stainless. Teflon. Aluminum. Cast iron.

    I have tossed out all of my cook-ware except for a few stainless sauce-pots and my cast-iron cook-ware for one simple reason - nothing cooks like cast.

    I have in my collection 5" short-wall, 5" high-wall, 8" short-wall, 8" high-wall, 10" short-wall, 10" high-wall, 12" high-wall, cook-plates, dutch-oven, waffle-iron, roasting-pot, stew-pot, etc.

    Heating the cast iron is simple. Place on stove, over fire or in BBQ and allow to warm up. Once the cook-ware is warm with a little bit of oil (if required) you can start cooking. It takes almost no time to warm-up and it holds the heat "forever".

    I find that the use of salt-and-pepper is not required when cooking with cast iron. I found that my iron deficiency (anemia) is kept under control without the need for extra iron pills all the time. The food has a much better flavour! I have been cooking with cast-iron now as my primary cook-ware for 15 years and I have 10 years of professional cooking experience as well. I love to cook for crowds and love to cook for my loved-ones. I guess you could say, I love to cook!

    Care of your Cast-iron

    New cast-iron you will want to prepare it for cooking by heating it in a dry heat (oven works great) at 350° to 400°F to cook off the shipping coating. Allow the cast iron to cool (to touch) and then wash with pure water and green-scrubbie. Place on an stove element to warm up (dry). Take oil (or fat) and coat the entire cast-iron cook-ware (handle, inside, outside, everything) and put into the oven at 350° for 1 hour. Take it back out of the oven and wipe down with paper-towel - allow to cool (stove-top works well).

    Daily use of cast-iron

    Warm up your cast iron and apply a little amount of oil (fat, PAM, etc) and cook your food on it. Leaving the cook-ware on the stove after placing food into serving dish is fine. For a minor mess, wipe out with paper-towel. For "wet-mess", wipe out cast-iron with water and green-scrubbie. Do not use soap. Do not allow to soak in water. You will damage the cook-ware. If you do - don't worry about it - follow the steps for new cast-iron preparations.

    The cast iron must be used - regularly. If it isn't, the oils that are baked into the iron can "go bad" and have a weird smell. If that happens - bake the cast iron in a flame (BBQ works well) - spray fresh oil onto the cast-iron and cook with it while hot.

    What can be cooked on / in cast iron

    I have baked deep-dish pizze in my 12" pan, BBQ'd my pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage, made my hot-sauces, cooked spagetti, baked lasagna, roasts, ham, deer, chicken, etc.

    I will cook with my dutch-oven over an open fire making a chili or stew (with dumplings - yummy). Thanksgiving ham cooked in a dutch-oven out in the middle of no-where is great!

    Hmm .. back to topic again


    I purchased lids for my stove-top cook-ware seperately (one 5" and one 12") that are also made of cast-iron, my dutch oven and chili-pot both came with lids. I find using the lid keeps the food moist and hot! The lids have spikes pointing towards the food to direct moisture back into the food. Steaming vegies with a bit of water, oil and spices makes a quick and delicious meal.

    There is alot of information on the 'net about cast-iron cooking and dutch-oven cooking. Way more than what I can put into a single message. I have 3 receipe books dedicated to cast-iron dutch-oven cooking which I read and try the amazing receipes from time to time.

    Practice daily your cooking skills and you will be able to make meals fit for a king.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  2. BlackPaladin

    BlackPaladin Enforcer

    Great reminder about cast iron cookware.

    "Seasoning" a cast-iron skillet is a lost art for some.

  3. allmons

    allmons New Member

    So where can one learn?

    I have had mixed results seasoning new cast iron. Any one know the best way?
  4. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    I like bacon-grease best. In a pan, in the oven start baking the bacon. Make sure that you have the greasiest bacon possible when you start. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain off into a bowl all the bacon-fat.

    Take your cast-iron pan (cold) and smear everything with the bacon-grease - handle, top, bottom, inside, outside - everything. Warm oven to 350°F and put the pan in for 1 hour.

    Remove pan and wipe with paper towel and then allow to cool on stove-top or hot-pot-stand of some sort.

    Regular use of the pan (always using a bit of oil to cook with) will keep it seasoned. The cooking oil can be anything that you have around - Pam, liquid Canola, Lard, bacon-fat, beef-fat .. anything that will help the food to not stick.

    Seasoning is not a "one-time-only" deal - each time that you cook with the pan, it will continue its seasoning process - as long as you do not wash the pan, only wipe it down with a cloth or paper-towel.

    Washing with more than just hot water will remove the seasoning and you will need to re-season the pan again.
  5. Homer_Simpson

    Homer_Simpson Well-Known Member

    I use mine all the time, the misses still has an issue with just wiping it down so I season mine more than most.

    One thing I found is to let the pan or dutch oven cool in the oven as the oven cools down, takes a few hours but seems to work well
  6. Smithy

    Smithy Outdoorsman, Bladesmith

    I don't want to question the OP, but I am curious about the "iron intake" notion. Wouldn't a properly seasoned pan actually keep a barrier (however thin) between the food and the metal itself?

    That said, I love cooking with cast, but I wouldn't give up my teflon-coated deep-lipped fryer for eggs and hash, or pancakes on saturday mornings. Cleanup is just too easy, and the slippery nonstick-ness is worth the tradeoffs.
  7. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    With everything that is cooked, some of the cooking surface will enter the food. Every time that you cook with your teflon coated cook-ware, some of the teflon will enter your physical being. Same with stainless and aluminum. Same with the cast-iron. The only cooking surface that is available now that is inert to the cooking transfer of surface to food is ... glass.

    As for the studies that I have read about food and food-prep, I have found out that cooking with aluminum is nice for the texture, but, the aluminum has been shown to bring on Alzheimer's. Patients that have Alzheimer's have all shown to have elevated levels of aluminum in their system.

    The teflon in cookware is shown to cause cancers - especially at the "end-of-life" of the cookware. Cooking only at very low temperatures and not allowing the surface to chip or peel is marginally safe.

    One of the main ingredients of teflon is PFOA. PFOA is widespread in the blood of the general population (though in low concentrations), where it stays for up to 10 years before being eliminated. In laboratory animals, PFOA has been shown cause cancer, liver damage, growth defects, immune-system damage and death. Solid data is not available with regards to humans - yet.

    With regards to your original question - both myself and my little lady are anemic. She is worse that I am, having a prescription for iron pills that she has to take as required. Before we got together, she relied 100% on the pills. After I started cooking for her with my cast iron, she only needed to boost her iron levels during her monthly.

    For me, when I cooked with only stainless pots / pans / etc, I was anemic. Once I started cooking all my food with cast-iron, the majority of the symptoms went away (in general). I still have limited anemic episodes, and, when I realize that is the problem, I will then iron-boost myself with liver / beets / spinach / etc - all the high-iron-rich foods. Using only the cast-iron cookware for a "small" intake of iron keeps me relatively ok.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  8. redskies

    redskies Guest

    What are your main symptoms when you have an anemic episode?
  9. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    My little lady gets to the point of having very low energy, lethargic and water-blisters grow on the backs of her hands and arms. For me, I have "head-rushes" and dizzy spells for no reason and feel drained of all energy.

    When it is really bad, my "head-rushes" will be 1/2 way to full black-out where my eye-sight is completely gone, my hearing is fubar, but, I still have feeling - so if I am standing when it happens, I can "feel" the floor or a wall or a chair and attempt to hold my balance till my sight and hearing return. I haven't had that level for a good while now.
  10. carnut1100

    carnut1100 Well-Known Member

    I love cooking with cast iron...
    We only use cast iron or stainless steel.
    No aluminium or teflon coated stuff at all.
    Food tastes better from an iron pot!
  11. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    Great comments on cast Iron..... thank you all.
    Great idea obtaining very inexpensive cast iron.
    At garage sales, I always look for the nastiest iron ware with baked on stuff all over it. They do not sell, who wants other peoples funk right????
    I buy them cheap, after I find about four items, i go home and build a nice wood fire in the back yard.
    I throw the cast iron on top of the fire and let them burn.
    About three hours later, when cooled down, I take out the cast and wala, they are clean as a whistle. All of that baked on funk , just burns off. I then reseason them and use or resell them at another sale.
    Yeah baby!

    Question: recently I wanted to buy a 9" small pan to cok my eggs in each morning. i bought a new one and it has a rather rough ibside bottom surface, well after seasoning, the eggs always stick to the rough surface.
    While at a yard sale, I found a used 9" pan and it had a very smooth bottom in it, the eggs won't stick. WHy the difference???:confused:
    It seems the older used stuff has the smoother surface.
  12. carnut1100

    carnut1100 Well-Known Member

    Could be the grade of iron used as well.
    Also when it was machined they may have used a quicker but rougher cut on the new stuff.
  13. rainbowgardens

    rainbowgardens Well-Known Member

    There is a forum for cast iron cooking! Its called the IDOS Forum, or International Dutch Oven Society Forums. I don't know how to post links so you'll need to google it.
    There are several threads on there about seasoning cast iron. I tried the high heat method. It gave me a nice black finish, but my fried eggs stuck to it. I've switched back to 350 degrees for a few hours.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2008
  14. Laddyboy

    Laddyboy Guest

    So why does cooking in the cast iron help your iron levels? How does that work exactly?

    I too am anemic. I found out about 3 years when it was pretty bad. I had very low energy, was pale, and in the mornings while I was getting ready for work, I would get dizzy all the sudden and have to go lay down. I got prescribed iron pills and started taking them daily, as directed. Six months into in, my lab results showed that my iron levels had sky rocketed, which can be bad also. I started taking them every other day but my levels still remained high. Should I try taking them once a week? I don't feel like I used to, but my energy level is still very low. I just hate having the responsibility of taking pills. Maybe I should look into getting a cast iron skillet!
  15. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    I have a couple of "rough-surface" pans. You can re-finish the pan if you have a twisted wire-brush and a grinder. A flap-disk on a grinder works as well. Start by cleaning the pan with the wire-brush to remove all scale, oils, etc. If it feels smooth to the touch after using the wire-brush - you are good to clean the pan and re-season.

    If you are not happy with the results of the wire-brush, you can use a flap-disk on the same grinder to really smooth out the pan. Take care that you do not remove too much material. Clean and then re-season the pan.

    If you do not have the tools to polish the pan (or do not wish to purchase the tools, or do not have the space to do it), you can locate a machine-shop near or in your town (welding shops can direct you to one if you cannot locate one in the yellow-pages) to polish it for you.
  16. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    See post #7 in this thread for my theory on how and why my iron-levels have smoothed out.
  17. Taylor335G

    Taylor335G Guest

    Are cast iron pans expensive? Where are they available at?
  18. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Depends on what you consider expensive. Some of my pans I got for $5 at Sally-Anne ThriftStores, some I got as gifts (because everyone I know knows how much I love cooking with cast), some I bought at loonie-bins (dollar-stores in the US), some came from speciality-cooking-supply stores (very expensive $75+) and some came from hardware stores for what I consider a reasonable price (my large dutch-oven cost me $25).

    Look around at garage or estate sales for cast. Look around at thrift-stores and stores that take donations for cast. Hardware stores like CanadianTire and HomeHardware carry some cast iron cookware in their camping supply-zones.
  19. marsvoltafan

    marsvoltafan Guest

    Does Wal-Mart or Target carry any that you know if?
  20. rainbowgardens

    rainbowgardens Well-Known Member

    I bought my cast iron from Wal-mart. I also saw some at our new Kroger. It's like a super Kroger and carries lots of kitchen stuff.
    I've seen cast iron at antique stores also. Some are over priced, but then again they are usually the older american made stuff.