Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

Big Buckaroo does pretty good with Christmas gifts, the sweetest was the diamond earrings he bought me for Christmas 5 years ago when Little Buckaroo was born. The note said sweet things like thanks for having our baby, you will be a great mom, do you know how much these cost, did you get that high lift jack I wanted before you went into labor?etc., etc. So, I know everyone wants to know what my sweet, romantic park ranger hubby got me for Christmas........ a 12" cast iron skillet, yee haw. Disclaimer: Big Buckaroo read this and said that it sounds like he is cheap. He did get me more presents than just this.

This past year I threw away/gave away all my non-stick cookware after hearing all the test results saying that one of the chemicals used to produce the non-stick coating is "likely" to be a human carcinogen. Our family tries to eat as healthy as possible, we raise our own pastured poultry, buy only grass-fed beef, and many other practices to protect the food that we are consuming and giving to our children. This is a whole new lifestyle compared to living life in a big city picking up sushi or any other food on my way home from work. My gardening is a work in progress, but boy I can grow some zucchini, alot of zucchini, so much when people see me coming with bags in the summer they lock the doors because they do not want any more zucchini. My cooking has gradually improved in the past 8 years since meeting hunky Big Buckaroo and leaving Memphis, it started from the bottom so it could only go up. So, I now cook exclusively with cast iron, I have a couple of 10" skillets, an 8", a couple of different cornbread ones, and I have a dutch oven. Living on a historical park, they are pretty easy to come by. So, imagine my excitement when I received a new 12" cast iron skillet from Big Buckaroo for Christmas, he gets points because I did ask him for this.

Not only did he get what I asked him for, he seasoned it for me this afternoon, oh the romance. Actually, Big Buckaroo takes exceptional care of me, I know how lucky I am to have him. So, I thought I would share the proper way to season cast iron in case any of you out there got a new skillet or dutch oven or got diamonds and want to wear your diamonds while you read this.

  1. Warm cookware before peeling of any label.
  2. Wash the pan, making sure to rinse and dry. Use soap THIS TIME ONLY.

  3. Place pan on stove top and warm it up a bit.

  4. Use melted shortening and apply to the inside and outside with a soft cloth.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place skillet in the oven UPSIDE down. You will need to place an aluminum foil on rack below to catch any drippings. Bake for one hour, then turn off oven and let it cool in the oven.

  6. After using the skillet, wash immediately, do not use soap or any type of dishwashing detergent. Just use hot water and a bristle brush to clean. If you have grease build-up, use steel wool and then re-season.

  7. After washing, dry carefully. Then place on stove top to get warm, turn off and coat with shortening while still warm enough to melt the shortening as you apply it. Leave on stove top to cool, then store. Never store with the lid on, cast iron needs air circulation. Also, do not store anything in your cast iron.

If you don't own a cast-iron skillet, it's well worth the time and money to invest in one. My new one is the Lodge brand which Big Buckaroo says is a good brand. The first most common mistake of why people do not like cast iron is that they say everything sticks. If food sticks to your cast-iron pan, your pan is NOT seasoned right and you need to re-season it. Cast iron is a natural non-stick surface and if your pan is seasoned correctly it WILL NOT stick! Plus, if you ever need a weapon, it is pretty handy, although not recommended on Buckaroos.

If you have any questions, please let me know, I would love to help out. This is one easy step for healthier and better tasting food.


Pam said...

Everything TASTES better with cast iron too, I swear. I won't run when I see you coming with bags of zucchini I promise :)

It's quiet here, the guys have been playing Star Wars Risk for like ten hours straight I think. *Tisk*

Maybe I will go cook something on cast iron.....


Dawn-Enigma Artist said...

I love my cast iron. Still using my skillets I got 30 years ago.

Tip: If for some reason something does stick...put it on the stove, add some water, heat it up until you can loosen the stuck stuff, then remove from heat...clean as usual.

ashpags said...

Ooh I love cooking with cast iron. I got a cute little 6" skillet for Christmas, so I get to do some seasoning as well. =) I've heard that Americans are more iron-deficient than in the past because we've moved away from cast iron. Apparently some of the iron gets in whatever you're cooking, and so your food automatically becomes enriched with minerals - for free! I don't know how true that is, but it makes me feel healthier. ;) I'm glad you got something wonderful for Christmas! =)

shirley said...

Thanks for the lesson on seasoning cast iron. I own four very old pans(inherited from my mother). They are all hanging by the hearth for looks only. I haven't used them in 20 years! Only one has a brand name, Puritan. I always had a problem with food sticking, but it sounds like I didn't season them properly. I guess I'll have to take them down and try again. Are new cast iron pans better than the old ones?

Julie Beth said...

Woo hoo! I'm learning to love cast iron too. Although I wimped out and asked for enamel on cast iron. I got a 6qt. dutch oven, and I'm in love. Mr. Boy Scout would have bought me the Rachel Ray pan, but I asked for Lodge Color. It was about 1/3 of the price but every bit as good quality.

Hope that you show us some good recipes to use in that nice new pan. That will make it a Happy New Year!

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

When I got married 10 years ago my grandmother INSISTED that I have a seasoned cast iron skillet. She drove down to a little second hand/antique/"junk" shop and bought me one. I still have it. She has since passed away, but I always think of her when I cook with it!

My mother has a very old and somewhat uniquely shaped flat cast iron pan for hoe cakes. It's really neat and I believe it was my great great grandmother's.

Now if I could only cook to do my fine old skillet justice! ;)

Anonymous said...

It makes my hiney tingle (and not in a good way)to see those cast iron pots on the ceiling!!! What is that pot rack fell!!!!!??? Yikes! Maybe I have been living in Earthquake country too long. That rack must weigh a gazillion pounds (minimum)I love cast iron too!

Anonymous said...

I would love to have cast iron. If only I could sell Bennie (my hubs) on the idea...

Rachel said...

Cast Iron rocks!! All my cast iron hs been handed down from my Granny so it's older than dirt and soooo well seasoned! Everything is better in cast iron!
Congrats on your new goodies!!!

SegoLily said...

That's wonderful that you got rid of your non-stick cookware when you found out about the carcinogens! It's so easy to believe that the things we use daily must be safe if the stores are selling them, but in many cases, it's unfortunately just not true.

Anonymous said...

I should get one! does Racheal Ray have one?!?! :O)