Cast iron is a material that is made to survive. It was used by our ancestors to cook over an open flame and can still be used today to cook in the modern kitchen. If you’ve never used cast iron skillets, pots, and Dutch ovens before, here are some of the benefits:
- Increased iron in your diet. An iron deficiency can lead to anemia and other health conditions. Iron supplements are available in capsule and pill form, but one of the leading ways to increase your iron consumption is to cook on cast iron.
- Durability. It’s nearly impossible to break cast iron. This material is made to withstand anything, and it can take a punishment and still be usable for cooking, baking, frying, and more. Unlike Teflon-coated cookware, which only lasts for a few years before it flakes off and renders the piece unusable, cast iron lasts forever.
- Heritability. Cast iron cookware is often passed down from generation to generation. In a world of disposable everything, cooking with Great-Grandma’s skillet provides a sense of grounding and comfort that is tough to come by. If you take care of your cast iron pieces, there’s a good chance you can pass them onto the next generation and provide your descendants with a sense of heritage every time they step up to the stove.
- Low maintenance. You don’t use soap on cast iron cookware or place the pieces in a dishwasher. Just scrub with a bristle brush and very hot water until all the food particles are gone, then use a paper towel to lightly rub olive oil on all surfaces that touch food.
Some people are intimidated by caring for cast iron, since many cooking experts swear a certain set of cooking, cleaning, and storing rules must be followed. Top cast iron chefs differ on their opinions regarding these rules, which further confuses the beginning cast iron cook.
I grew up in a household that used cast iron and now use it exclusively to cook for my family of five. I’ve used various kinds of oil, boiled hard-to-scrub food particles out on the stove top, and hauled skillets in the bed of a pickup truck with zero protection whatsoever. I haven’t killed a piece of cast iron cookware yet, and I guarantee you won’t, either.
Even if you accidentally allow too much moisture to remain in the skillet after washing and rust forms, you can scrub it off with salt and vinegar. Cast iron is extremely forgiving, a trait that is often left off of most how to care for cast iron articles.
The best part about using cast iron in the kitchen is that when you heat the pan up, it releases the aroma of the last thing you cooked in it. The taste doesn’t transfer over to the new dish, which is a good thing if you made tacos last night and are scrambling eggs this morning. Cast iron encompasses everything continuous and comforting about time spent in the kitchen, which is one of the main reasons I will continue to use it in my house.