That’s right, every kitchen needs Cast Iron Cookware; at least a couple of pieces, because… If you want cookware with the original non-stick cooking surface, that will outlast what you commonly find today called non-stick, then you need to start a lifelong rewarding affair with that been-around-since-before- time-began cast iron variety. Nothing sticks to seasoned cast iron, it can’t peel or scratch like ‘non-stick’ cookware can, and it’s even rust resistant if properly seasoned.
If that’s not reason enough, consider these facts: Cast iron is virtually indestructible; cannot wear out; will never warp, dent, chip, or break. Cast iron heats evenly, and that ends hot spots and burnt food; it keeps hot food hot longer. And that means you can use less heat and water when cooking with iron, thereby saving energy and preserving nutrients.
However, there is one caution: According to a study that appeared in July 1986, in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association, ‘cooking in iron utensils significantly increased the iron content of food.’ If you have any questions or doubts, see your doctor. But, even though this may be the case for some people, as far as many folks are concerned, especially those using family heirloom pieces that have been handed down for generations, food cooked in cast iron tastes better; it’s just that simple.
Now, let’s suppose you don’t have a good old fashioned cast iron skillet, but have decided to take the plunge; to spend a few bucks at your local brick-and-mortar retailer, or even on line for that matter; to become the proud owner of a non-seasoned, not-yet-ready-to-use piece of cast iron. What’s the first thing you need to do?
Get in shape! If you’re going to check out cast iron cookware at your local discount store, you’d better start your conditioning program a couple of weeks before you plan to venture out. If you’re doing all your research and shopping on line, you have a little longer, but not much.
Why all the fuss about getting in shape? you ask. The answer is obvious, think about it. Cast iron cookware is heavy stuff; the bigger, the heavier (gee, that makes sense). It’s not made for easy handling by the-years-gone-by 99-pound-now-235-pound- weakling. Some pieces should come with special accessories! Consider…
Some pieces are so heavy… How heavy are they? you ask. They’re soooo heavy that you should have a second person help you lift it, and that’s when it’s empty. Or, if you can get someone to loan you a block-and-tackle, or install an overhead crane with track and remote control, or rig up some other type of ingenious device, you’ll be truly thankful in more ways than one. Let me tell you about…
What? No, this is not an exaggeration. Why, we’ve seen grown men brought to their knees trying to lift a full-to-within- one-inch-from-the-top campfire style Dutch oven. Yep, we sure have. Okay, enough is enough.
Folks, you don’t need to get excited about the size of some of these fine pieces of cookware; in all likelihood they’re not what you actually need for your own personal in-kitchen use. In most instances, you’ll probably want a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet, a reversible griddle, and a five-quart Dutch oven. These, for the most part, are doable. However, if this is your first encounter with cast iron, start small. Buy a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet, take it home, season it, use it, get used to it. Then, when you find out how much you like cooking with cast iron, make your move; strap on your weight-lifter belt and go acquire your next piece or pieces.
Finally, as far as seasoning cast iron cookware is concerned, it’s no big deal. As anyone who has ever had any experience with cast iron knows, if it’s not seasoned properly, about the only thing it’s good for is as a door stop, boat anchor, nut-cracker, or all three!