Cast Iron - Norm's kitchen transmogrification Blog at Allrecipes.com - 295923

Norm's kitchen transmogrification

Cast Iron 
 
Jan. 23, 2013 9:59 am 
Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 6:54 pm
A couple of months ago two minor things happened that got me into cooking with cast-iron.  One was a new guy at work brought a cast-iron skillet full of corn bread for a "feed" we were having in our office.  Turns out he's quite the cast-iron aficionado.  He buys it cheap at auctions and yard sales, refurbishes it and uses it for gifts or collects it himself.  I was intrigued.  The second thing was another guy at work who I regularly ask for culinary advice told me he made "the best steaks ever" in a cast-iron skillet (seared on the stove and finished in the oven).  I knew I had a cast-iron pan or two at home so I thought I'd get in on this cast-iron thing.  

It turned out I had a nicely used 12" Lodge skillet, an 8" round griddle and a brand new set of imported skillets (6", 8" & 10") but they were completely bare metal.  I oiled them up, threw them in the oven at 400 deg. F and promptly filled the house with smoke.  Turns out I had missed the line about "wiping off the excess".  Oops.  But it worked and I've been using them ever since.  The 10" skillet has gone from being completely raw to the point I'm able to fry eggs in it as easily as in my former Teflon 'egg skillet'.  They're not as pretty black as the Lodge one but they're well on their way.  I also bought another Lodge 12" because I needed it for my first attempt at using an internet recipe (it was a spicy sausage potato soup and it turned out great).   

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I think cast-iron cookware is so cool.  Maybe it's the connection to the past.  I can remember my dad using cast-iron around the camp (sadly those skillets got sold with the camper several years ago).  They've also been in use for a long, long time historically.  

Or maybe it's the fact that visually I just like the look of them.  They're very masculine looking.  Let's face it, there are more female cooks than male ones so a lot of cookware is designed to be attractive looking with the smooth shapes and pretty colors.  But I'm a guy and cold, black iron is perfect for me.  

Could be that the cleaning is easy.  Much has been written about how to clean cast iron, dos & don'ts, etc.  I find a stiff brush and some really hot water followed by a few minutes back on the stove to dry it and make spreading a little oil easy to work magnificently.  It's better than the stainless steel pan I primarily used before.  Everything stuck to that pan and it usually required soaking in the sink overnight to get it clean again.  

Part of it is definitely that it's so easy to use.  You can get it really, really hot with no worries about doing it any harm and it does seem to cook quicker than the skillet I used to use.  I've learned not to touch the handle without a towel or hot pad though.  You don't have to be careful about what tools you use either.  

But what I really think makes cast-iron such a neat thing for me is that unlike almost everything else out there it actually gets better the more you use it.  The stainless steel and aluminum skillets I've owned are super-sticky and hard to clean.  A new Teflon skillet is great, the number of times you can use it is actually finite, eventually that finish is going to wear off and render the entire skillet useless.  But with cast-iron every use makes it even more non-stick.  It doesn't wear out, you can use any kind of tool you want (though I still use my silicone flipper most often) and it will remain in good order indefinitely no matter how much use it sees.  

I'm not done acquiring cast-iron either.  I have my eye on a dutch oven, a skillet cover, a few corn-bread pans and one of the reversible two-burner griddle gizmos that have grill lines on the opposite side.  I missed a super deal a couple weeks ago on one (they were gone when I went back) and am still kicking myself for it.  

Suffice it to say that I'm a fan and I'll be cooking with cast-iron for the foreseeable future.  
 
Comments
Jan. 23, 2013 11:12 am
:) love cast iron!!
 
Jan. 23, 2013 12:05 pm
I've gone beyond the collector status. One could say I'm addicted to cast iron! If I see it in a sale I buy it! Even the ones that look toxic. I have found the triangle sectioned corn bread pan and the one with little corn sections to be useless for anything other than decoration. My favorite cornbread cooker is a muffin pan and second favorite is an 8" skillet. I still use my stainless steel too, but it just doesn't compare with the cast iron for heat resistance and non-stick charactoristics. Recently, I picked up an eight quart dutch oven at a yard sale for $5.00. Needs a lot of tlc to derust and re-season but, to me, that's part of the fun of a bargain!
 
Jan. 23, 2013 12:31 pm
I love my cast iron skillet. The most used tool in the kitchen. I also like my stainless steel set but not for eggs or things like that. Fried chicken in cast iron is the best.
 
Maggi 
Jan. 23, 2013 2:07 pm
Good for you! I wish I had the patience to season and use to fully appreciate cast iron. I gave my mom's to my son who loves it!!! Nice that it lives on with him!
 
Jan. 23, 2013 3:15 pm
My most used skillet is almost 100 yrs old. It was my grandmothers and has seen some meals! My daughters squabble over who gets it when I'm no longer cooking. (I may leave it to the cat, LOL!)
 
Jan. 23, 2013 3:49 pm
I love my cast iron skillet! I use it for everything from fried chicken to pineapple upside down cake!
 
Norm66 
Jan. 23, 2013 5:44 pm
Thanks for all the great comments and the tips on te muffin pans. I'm reseasoning one of my skillets now because te buffalo wing sauce I made this evening seemed to strip it off. The vinegar maybe?
 
Jan. 23, 2013 6:31 pm
i agree the best pan, pot...heck whatever is cast-iron. i collect cast iron. i'm very fortunate to have amassed a great deal of cast iron. many unique pieces that i use. here's a tip if they are really rusty when you find one, burn it in an outdoor fire or firepit, clean and re-oil. good as new. of course you must re-season those guys again but some bacon works great.
 
Jan. 24, 2013 6:42 am
I love my cast iron as well! I want a second dutch oven as I love to fry in the one I have now, but I want to be able to use it at other times too. I need to get out and go garage saleing to find more!!!!
 
Norm66 
Jan. 24, 2013 6:56 am
Thanks again for all the comments. I plan on checking for some garage sale deals this spring. I'm not sure I can wait til then for a Dutch oven though. It's interesting how cast-iron kind of has a cult of personality about it. Maybe I'm not just crazy. hehehe
 
Jan. 24, 2013 9:45 am
Norm, great post! You have a good take on cast iron. I never really thought about getting cast iron at a garage sale. Why would anyone get rid of it? That's a tip I will start using!
 
Jan. 24, 2013 1:37 pm
I love my cast iron skillet too! I like how it sears beautifully and love that I can make chapatis in it. I use it almost everyday. My husband bought me an enameled cast iron dutch oven and I am in love with that too! I think I am never going to buy any other type of cookware ever again!
 
Jan. 24, 2013 1:45 pm
Love your blog. I too have a collection. My dad went to school in North Carolina in the 1920's (he is from Australia). He had a lady that cooked for the boys and all she used was cast iron. When he worked in the US he bought some cast iron pans and they travelled back to Australia with him in the 1930's. I now use these pans today and they are beautiful...as smooth as glass and better than a non stick teflon pan. My husband has also become addicted to cast iron cooking on the BBQ and has his own set, which I don't touch. LOL. Thanks again for a great BLOG.
 
Jan. 24, 2013 3:11 pm
Oh Cast Iron is great! I love it, my sister however, has an obsession with it, you should see her collection! She buys them at thrift stores! :-)
 
exotec 
Jan. 25, 2013 7:49 pm
I also have an ongoing love affair with cast iron. It's getting so I can barely handle it now - it's not really arthritis-friendly! But I just have to use 2 hands instead of one these days. I also cruise flea market aisles for old pieces. The pretty ones are up on top, cleaned and seasoned and priced accordingly. But if you check under the tables and in the transient (ie, not the regulars) stalls, you can happen across some great finds. Oh, and BTW -- I've been searching for skillet lids, too. If you find any that aren't the self-basting sorts, I'll gladly be your first customer! So far, there's skillets everywhere, but no lids!
 
Jan. 25, 2013 9:53 pm
I am new with cast iron.I was told not to use tomato sauce in them.I am an Italian cook and have not touched my dutch oven because of this.Please help!!
 
Jan. 25, 2013 9:56 pm
I am new with cast iron.I was told not to use tomato sauce in them.I am an Italian cook and have not touched my dutch oven because of this.Please help!!
 
Lea 
Jan. 26, 2013 1:56 am
Beef, pork and stuffed chicken are supreme when roasted in my old cast iron dutch oven...brown and the gravy is delicious! I wouldn't think of roasting in anyrhing else. :) Lea
 
Lea 
Jan. 26, 2013 2:09 am
NILELU, I've cooked with tomato sauce in my cast iron dutch oven and didn't find that it harmed it, but perhaps if you did it regularly, it might take off the 'prized' seasoning of the pot. I cook things like lasagna sauce and chili in a big stainless steel one only because the cast iron dutch oven isn't large enough to contain the amounts that I cook. Don't EVER allow anyone to scrub the cast iron with SOS/Brillo pads. They'll wreck the finish!!!
 
Janet 
Jan. 26, 2013 8:12 am
How timely is this blog! It's that "pitch the teflon" time again...what a waste of money! I've got some very toxic looking cast iron I inherited from my dad hiding unused in my cupboard because I'm very inhibited about all the do's and don'ts. How do you de-rust and re-season? What are the important do's and don'ts? Help!
 
Jan. 26, 2013 8:59 am
I love my cast iron skillets and use them nearly everyday. I found one at a yard sale for a couple dollars...it was in terrible condition. Rusty and covered in yucky"ness"...brought it home and fired up our woodstove. Stuck that skillet in the fire and after a couple hours, some coarse salt and a lot of elbow grease, it was good as new. My husband's grandma would periodically "clean" all her cast iron by digging a big fire pit in the yard and put her skillets directly in the fire for a few hours.
 
Jan. 26, 2013 11:42 am
I heard you can clean cast iron by putting it in a self-cleaning oven upside down. cover the lower oven with something to collect any drippings and keep them off the lower burner. the internet is filled with many tips.
 
mimi 
Jan. 26, 2013 8:26 pm
I wish I still had my Mom's! But I have a few good pieces to start and I agree with Mother Ann, pineapple upside down cake is the best in a cast iron skillet! Our fav is a sort of casserole with ham n beans and cornbread on top! Also fritattas or oven pot pies... endless possibilities
 
Jan. 27, 2013 10:46 am
Great blog,Norm! My 50 year old,12 inch CI skillet never leaves my stovetop. It's so shiny black I can see myself in it! It's completely nonstick and a breeze to clean. I use it every day (when I'm not using my CI wok!)I keep a few stainless pans around because I have found that the seasoning will strip off of cast iron if you simmer tomato, wine or vinegar for too long. I clean mine the same way you do and use the cheapest oil I have around. I haven't found that any particular oil does a better job than any other. I really don't care for the ridged CI grill pan, though. I find it very hard to clean and season properly. It will be in my spring garage sale if you want to come and get it!lol
 
petey 
Jan. 27, 2013 12:07 pm
I love my cast iron. I got all mine for free from people who just didn't want it. Someone who was cleaning out an old camper to see, and things like that. I love cooking on it, and its something that can be handed down from generation to generation.
 
Jan. 27, 2013 7:14 pm
Cooking with cast iron is great. I use my 12" Lodge almost every day. My wife discovered if we spray non-stick cooking spray before every use, it seems to re-season itself. I do break the rule and use a little soap sometimes, but since it is so easy to clean, not very much. I make awesome cornbread in it, eggs, coffeecake, hamburgers, you name it. Enjoyed your blog.
 
mimi 
Jan. 28, 2013 7:37 am
Hey what's with the spam all of a sudden? They're everywhere! Anyway, does anybody know if you can freeze a dish in your cast iron skillet, lid on, the whole thing wrapped at least 10 times with plastic?
 
Jan. 28, 2013 9:33 pm
Cast iron is awesome. I make my steak every Saturday night in one. You can use it for so many different things. Harbor Freight sells a cheap multi set that are just great after they've been seasoned.
 
Oldguy 
Jan. 29, 2013 5:34 am
We moved last summer and in doing so we left some cookware for our son. After moving we noticed that we didn't bring a single piece of non-stick. I'm a ci addict right down to my very old waffle iron. Does anyone else use a potjie? I love to cook with one. We use a Lodge reversible griddle and have never had any trouble cleaning either side nor any problems with sticking. Nice blog.
 
Jan. 29, 2013 5:40 am
I too am addicted to cast iron. I have long since given up Teflon. The chemicals in the non stick surface when heated are released into our food and that is something my family can do without. I make the best meals in my cast iron. I do have a set of stainless steel pots and love these too but the versatility of cast iron can't be beat. I have a couple of small cast iron frying pans that I use to make toads in a hole (Yorkshire pudding) and they are amazing. If you are looking for top quality cast iron, I would say go with the Lodge brand as it comes pre-seasoned and is excellent quality. They sell the silicone pot holders and handle covers that save you from burning your fingers/hands when handling.
 
Jan. 29, 2013 5:47 am
In response to the query abiut freezing a dish in your cast iron skillet... I don't recommend freezing anything in your cast iron. The moisture will not be good for it and no amount of plastic wrap will keep it dry.
 
spider 
Jan. 29, 2013 10:36 am
I am a retired fireman. It used to drive me nuts when the Bozos at the station would put the cast iron in the dishwasher & then wonder why everything would stick in it. Don't EVER put your cast iron in the dishwasher.
 
Jan. 29, 2013 1:43 pm
When my father passed, it was a shark frenzy race of myself and siblings to get in our family home and "inherit" our late mothers's cast iron skillet which was her mothers. Sadly I wasn't in time. LOL
 
Jan. 29, 2013 4:16 pm
Any time you have a cast iron skillet or pan that is rusty or dirty just put it in a fire out side. It will clean all the built up grease off the out side. Just leave it in the fire about an hour, take it out ,cool, grease put it in the oven for an hour. 350 degrees
 
John 
Jan. 29, 2013 5:47 pm
Thanks for sharing! My grandmother (memaw) taught me to cook when I was a kid. She only used cast iron, even though members of the family had bought her a high tech (in 1988 terms) cookware. She was religious about only using cast iron. I learned very early that no soap is to ever touch the cast iron unless you scrap it down and re-season it from scratch! I have a 12”, 10”, 8” & 4” skillets, a 12 quart & 8 quart camping Dutch ovens, a 12 quart flat bottom Dutch oven, a 14” griddle and a 10” chicken fryer. Most of which were passed on to me by my grandmother…so they all have been well seasoned. Cooking with Cast Iron is one of my true joys and I still use my camping Dutch ovens when I can convince my wife to go camping! Ha! I have recently began cooking bread inside my Dutch oven inside my regular oven. Preheat the Dutch oven so it’s hot, then put the dough inside and it cooks into a great Artisan loaf. Couldn’t ask for better! I’m glad to see that people still enjoy cooking with cast iron. My Memaw would be proud!
 
Jan. 29, 2013 8:46 pm
Cast iron has always been the #1 go-to in my family's kitchens. Maybe it's a southern thing? I actually got my first cast iron skillets when I was just 20 and had next to no cookware of any kind. My cousin had recently married a city girl from the north east. I was helping them move when I came across several cast iron skillets. The new wife told me to leave them behind because "Who cooks with that horrible stuff?" and "Can you believe someone actually gave us that for a wedding present?" She seemed very insulted by it. It all went home with me! ;-)
 
Jan. 29, 2013 10:32 pm
I was reading some comments and wanted to give some advice. Don't cook anything acidic, very often, because it starts to strip off the seasoning you worked so hard for. Don't use any soap (ever). Just rinse in hot water (soak if you must) and use something scratchy to get the crusty's out. Dry all the way. You shouldn't have to oil it unless your packing it away for camping or long term storage. Just use it a lot and it will be OK. When I do cook something that has some acid (like a stew with some tomato's), occasionally, I will cook something soon thereafter that will build back up the seasoning - it's no big deal every once in a while. Just no soap!!! Remember that these pots and pans will last a lifetime and beyond - teach your children so they will pass them down!!! I've enjoyed the conversations...
 
Traci 
Jan. 30, 2013 8:16 am
My first cast iron skillet was one I found in a box of "stuff" we purchased at an auction when we were first married(about thirty years ago)It was crummy and crusty so I put it in my oven and set it to self-clean, since the oven needed it anyhow. It came out beautiful! Then all I had to do was season it! Years later, my brother gave me a couple of skillets and a dutch oven that he found at a garage sale. I let these two sit outside in a box for several more years. Last fall, I dug them out because I didn't want to go and purchase yet another set of cookware. I threw each piece in the wood stove, since it was going. The fire cooked off the gunk, but they rusted immediately. I found online that a solution of vinegar and water will clean them. Oh m'gosh! you could see the vinegar boiling the rust away! Anyhow, I now have a beautiful set that I use constantly!
 
Txgadgetgirl 
Jan. 30, 2013 9:55 am
Question: is it ok to use cast iron on glass top range? Will it harm my glass top? Did not see this addressed in this section. Loved all the comments. Thanks.
 
J. Dub 
Jan. 30, 2013 12:21 pm
Good blog. I have a cast iron pan and I really enjoy it too. I like to make my corn bread in it.
 
Mimi 
Jan. 30, 2013 12:41 pm
I have used my CI on a glass top stove without any problems. You just have to be careful bc of the weight. Since then I have gone back to a gas stove and like it much better for everything.
 
Jan. 30, 2013 1:54 pm
I make steaks exactly like you posted in my cast iron skillet. They always turn out great.
 
Jan. 30, 2013 3:54 pm
I love cast iron and have cooked in it since my Mom started teaching me to cook. But the most important thing about using it for me is avoiding using Teflon because I just don't think it is healthy and should. e avoided. Glad you like cast iron and are sharing it with everyone.
 
Jan. 30, 2013 3:57 pm
I wanted to add an answer to Txgadgetgirl, yes I have used my cast iron on my glass smooth cook top for 13 years and it works great. Clean the smooth tops after every meal and they are wonderful!e
 
Txgadgetgirl 
Jan. 30, 2013 5:38 pm
Thank you for your info for glass top range!
 
PATRICE OLOOTU 
Jan. 30, 2013 8:21 pm
Cast Iron is Fabulous!! The skillets are the best to use when searing and frying! I just purchase two Lodge enamel dutch ovens and I cannot wait to use them for stews, soups, braised short ribs, pot roast etc. I too am obsessed with cast iron. I love the easy clean up and the heat retention.....did I forget to mention Cast Iron just looks professional and makes a statement when cooking? I will continue to collect it. I also have the reversible griddle which is great when making steaks and burgers indoors so that I get those grill lines on my meat! My kids will love the fact that we can pass it on from generation to generation.
 
Jan. 31, 2013 12:17 pm
I guess I'm odd girl out. I have 2 CI skillets, but don't really use them. They're with the camping gear now in the garage. We de-rusted and seasoned them on our gas grill. No muss, no fuss! I like my heavy stainless for sautéing chicken, searing steaks and such. I even fry eggs in them, no problem with sticking. The key is to let the pan heat up, then add a bit of oil or butter. I'm better able to judge the color of fond in SS. It makes great pan sauces and cleans easily. If it's really yucky, just add hot soapy water, then when it cools, a scrubby takes up almost anything. A few months ago I bought a carbon steel crepe pan that is only used for eggs; it's pretty slick now.
 
richg635 
Feb. 4, 2013 8:50 am
I have always watched my mom cook with cast iron, and have wanted to start using it. MY problem, however, is whether or not cast iron can be used on a halogen/radiant (flat glass top) electric stove, since tis is all I have available where I live. Thanks
 
Ann 
Feb. 4, 2013 10:49 am
It is so good to learn that so many people are using cast iron. I inherited 2 from my mom and bought more. Mom used to make the best corn bread in a 10 in skillet. She would take it out of the oven and turn in right over onto a plate. No sticking. I have not learned to do this. My grown children also use cast iron. They are all health nuts and say cast iron is healthyier than others. Especially the teflon ones. Stay away from teflon.
 
LINLAW 
Feb. 4, 2013 11:31 am
You have encouraged me to try one. I think I'll get the one from my mom that she always used when I was growing up. Thanks!
 
Norm66 
Feb. 5, 2013 9:26 am
Wow, I haven't looked at this post lately and found it had over 50 comments! I must have touched a nerve with the cast-iron thing. I'm still using it (it's only been a couple weeks) nearly every day and still love it. To answer the question about cleaning: If there's nothing crusty stuck on it I'll just rub it out with a paper towel or two and scrape any leftover oil into the trash can. If it's a little crusty I'll take it to the sink and hit it with hot water (not until it's cooled down some thogh) and scrub it with a dedicated brush. No soap. If it's really, truly mucked up I'll put a couple tbsp of kosher salt into it with a little white vinegar and scrape it with a metal spatula until I get all the crusties off. Then just rinse it and put it on the stove on low to dry, wipe it with a little bit of oil to protect it from rust, let it cool and put it away. Thanks for all the great comments everybody!
 
Debbie 
Feb. 6, 2013 8:22 am
I'm a cast iron addict. I don't just collect it I use it. Did ya know one meal a day cooked in cast iron gives you your full daily iron supply. Well it does. Not only is it attractive, wonderful to cook with but it's healthy for ya too. What more could you ask from cookware. Happy cooking!!!
 
krounist1982 
Feb. 13, 2013 6:54 pm
If you think Rachel`s story is impressive..., a month-back mom in-law also easily made $4380 workin a fourty hour month in their apartment and their classmate's step-sister`s neighbour did this for 9-months and got paid more than $4380 in there spare time on their pc. applie the instructions on this link, Great70.com
 
 
 
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Norm66

Home Town
Petersburg, Ohio, USA

Member Since
Jan. 2013

Cooking Level
Intermediate

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Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Southern, Middle Eastern

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