Lilypie First Birthday tickers

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cast Iron Cookware

If you know me at all, you know that I love, love, love, traditional/antique cooking utensils.  Especially cast iron cookware.  There are many benefits of using this cookware. 

First of all, since the cookware contains iron, that is deposited in your food, which is a good thing.  Second, if seasoned correctly and cared for, your pots and skillets will be totally non-stick, without a scary Teflon coating.  I read somewhere the other day about teflon, and how when heated to 500 degrees (basically preheating on high heat) the fumes will kill an exotic bird, like a parrot.  Yuck.  (On a side note, I just hate teflon/non-stick pans because you have to use plastic or wooden utensils only.  It's a pain.)

Here are some pictures of some of the pieces I've collected over the years.

A Dutch Oven with Glass Lid.  If you ever purchase one of these, buy one with a lid.

A skillet.  I have a three of these.  The size is determined by a number on the back.

A griddle pan.  It's like a grill pan, but with no ridges.  I actually don't use this one a lot, because it is really old, and therefore made for an older stove with burners that are closer together.This is the back of it, by the way :)

A griddle and a corn stick pan.

My favorite piece, the muffin pan.  It makes 11 muffins, which I think is so quaint, and it makes THE BEST muffins and corn muffins ever in the history of the world.  They are always perfectly browned on top and bottom.  I love it!


There are several different brands of cast iron cookware.  The most popular is probably Lodge, but I detest it, because their skillets come "pre-seasoned" and are impossible to season yourself.  I had a Lodge skillet that I sold because it never, ever, became non-stick, no matter how much I used it.

I recommend going to an antique store, flea market, or an auction, and buying either Griswold or Wagner pans.  They are the absolute best.  They'll say Griswold or Wagner-ware on the back.  If it doesn't, don't let anyone tell you that's what it is.  A real Griswold or Wagner piece will run $30-$50 dollars in an antique store, but you can find cheaper ones at auctions or flea markets.

Trust me, whatever you spend will be worth it.  Your great-grandchildren will still be using your pans. 

How to Season a Pan:
When you get the pan home, get a heavy-duty scrubber (I like the Brillo pads with soap in them) and scrub all the gunk off. (This is why Lodge pans are not that great; you can't ever get the store gunk off.)  If it looks pretty black, slick, and shiny, you can skip this.  If there is any rust or anything, you need to do this.

Turn your oven on to 400 degrees.  Coat your skillet with an ANIMAL FAT grease, such as bacon grease or lard.  Alternately, you can cook some bacon in the skillet, eat the bacon (yum!) and leave the grease.

Put it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the grease is all melted.  Then, CAREFULLY, with paper towels or an old rag, get most of the grease out of the pan.  Leave a good coating on it.

Put the pan back in the oven at 200 degrees for several hours. I usually just leave it in there and forget about it all day. 

You are ready to use the pan!  It won't be instantly non-stick, you'll have to cook in it awhile.  I suggest cooking greasy foods at first in it to help the seasoning.

Care of Your Pans:
1.  After using, rinse with the hottest water your sink will produce.  You can use a scrubber, as long as it's not metal (like a Brillo pad).
2.  Let dry completely before storing.  This prevents rust.
3.  Do not ever, ever EVER use soap on your pans.  It will take off the seasoning.
4.  If you cook something acidic, like tomato sauce, and leave it in the pan too long, it may take off some of the seasoning.  Just season again, or cook something greasy next time you use it.

Enjoy your cast iron cookware! It lasts several lifetimes!

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