Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cooking with Cast Iron

We have been cooking with a cast iron for over a year now. Our reasons for switching from standard non-stick cookware were based primarily on health considerations and the confusing information we had read on the chemicals used in the non-stick coating.

Before switching to cast iron, we had been using a 'green' non-stick version that had eliminated the controversial PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)  and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) coatings. But we didn't think it held up very well and just started worrying all over again about the various other chemicals used to create this new form of non-stick.

So we made it very simple for ourselves and went back to the 'original non stick' - cast iron.

Cast iron possesses no potential dangerous coatings, will not chip or scratch and is also a great way to introduce trace amounts of iron into your diet.And if that wasn't enough incentive, cast iron is also very affordable. A twelve inch skillet for example is less than $30 (here) and it will last forever.

Cast iron is also great to cook with as it distributes heat evenly. We primarily use a pair of large and small skillets for everyday cooking. We also use a cast iron dutch oven in place of a crock pot for stews, slow roasts and soups. Our remaining cookware consists of copper-bottomed stainless steel sauce pans.

We purchased our Lodge cast iron skillets pre-seasoned.  Every several months, we re-season them by coating with oil and baking in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, we turn the oven off and let them cool on the oven racks.

For daily maintenance, we soak the pans in warm water after each use. We then scrub with a scouring sponge, rinse with hot water, and pat dry. Occasionally, we also rub a light coating of oil into the skillets while they are still warm from rinsing. We follow the same care with our Dutch Oven.  With cast iron it is recommended to not use soap and to not soak in water for long periods of time as this promotes rust and deteriorates the seasoned condition of the cookware (which makes the cast iron non-stick). In the worst-case scenario, you just have to re-season the cookware as described above.

Like all choices we make in life,  we strive to find ways in which we can live by the healthiest means possible. Some choices are easy to make, some take effort. But we are passionate about creating the healthiest life for ourselves and our babies, so the transition to cast iron does not feel like extra work. In fact, it offers quite the opposite for nothing outweighs peace of mind.


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