Cast Iron Pans – Do you know all you need to?

I recently purchased a cast iron pan because I’ve heard and read there is nothing better than food prepared in a cast iron pan. Apparently Mexican dishes, such as fajitas, sausages, eggs and few other dishes taste so much better compared to had they been cooked in a traditional cookware. Of course, it depends on the individual taste.

Because I like facts, I did a little more research to find more about cast iron cookware.

Why Cast Iron?
There are several reasons that people rave about cast iron cookware. It is not only an ideal heat conductor, but it heats evenly and consistently. In addition – it is inexpensive, and will last a lifetime with the proper care. When seasoned, a cast iron pan will be stick resistent and provide delectable meals every time.

Seasoning the Pan
When you season cast iron, you are embedding grease in to the pores of the cookware. Without proper seasoning, cast iron will rust after coming in contact with water. To season your cookware, first warm your pan, then rub a thin layer of oil all over the the surface of the pan, inside and out. Lay the pan upside down inside a 350 degree oven. Most cookware manufacturers suggest heating the pan for one hour, while some cooks suggest up to 4-5 hours for just the right amount of seasoning. This way, the oil will turn in to a non-sticky, hard coating. Allow the pan to cool overnight as it will be quite hot. Seasoning should also be repeated after each use.

Using Your Cast Iron Pan
The most important bit is to preheat your pan to the correct temperature. I read about a very interesting way to check this:

– Water droplets should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan, when dropped on to the heated surface.
– If water drops disappear immediately after being dropped, the pan is too hot and will surely burn your food.
– If water only bubbles, the pan is not quite hot enough.

Caring For Your Cookware
Simply wash with hot water and detergent and avoid using hard brushes. Be sure to dry it thoroughly immediately after washing, as cast iron is prone to rust. Seasoning your cookware after each use is a must to retain the quality and life of the pan.

Advantages of Cast Iron
Very durable.
Improves with age.
Food has more flavour.
Good heat conductor, heats evenly and quickly.
Last a lifetime with minimal or no damage.

Disadvantages of Cast Iron
Very heavy – so take care when lifting.
The bother of repeated seasoning.
Not dishwasher safe.

After all, I thought the disadvantage of weight and repeated seasoning was too much bother – I’ve only used my cast iron pan once, and my steak burned so the taste wasn’t improved at all. Perhaps I need to give it another go … ?!?!

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