Properly cared for, cast iron pans are virtually non-stick and can be used stove top or in the oven. Search garage and tag sales for an old one and you have an instant heirloom (who needs to know whose aunt it belonged to.) One of my cast iron treasures came from a friend whose mother was making a move to smaller quarters. She was a dairy farmer in Georgia and that was a well-seasoned pan!
Purchasing a new one is a fine as long as you look for a name brand (this is not the time to shop the dollar store). Cast iron pans are pre-seasoned these days, but they still require a little extra care in the beginning. Here are some tips:
Never wash with soap. A good wipe with a paper towel is often enough — with the occasional scrub with a little kosher salt, a quick rinse, and set on a burner over medium heat until dry.
If you find food is sticking in your pan preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Pour a thin layer of peanut oil in the pan and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Carefully pour excess oil off.
Wipe with paper towel and return to oven and turn oven off. I like to do this before going to sleep at night and in the morning all I have to do is wipe the pan once more and I'm good to go.
To avoid any rust, store your cast iron pans completely dry and if you live in a humid climate put a paper towel inside the pan.
If all else fails or you don't like the look of a humble cast iron pan, you can still get the benefits of the heat retention and versatility if you buy an enamel coated cast iron.
About Lari Robling
Lari Robling's food career had its early beginnings as a home ec teacher for the visually impaired. Later, she decided to become a food professional and worked for caterers and restaurants. Lari landed her first job in a test kitchen for a small health food publication, Delicious! magazine. From there, she began a freelance career as a food stylist and food consultant. She is also the author of Endangered Recipes: Too Good to Be Forgotten.
Philly Food Bucks!
Philly Food Bucks are coupons that help ACCESS/food stamp customers save money on fruits and vegetables. Philly Food Bucks can be redeemed for $2 worth of fruits and vegetables for every $5 spent in ACCESS/food stamps at a participating farmers' market. Learn more about Philly Food Bucks at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's recently expanded web site Food Fit Philly.com. Now also accepted at the West Oak Lane Weaver's Way Food Coop.
Get Healthy Philly is part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative, a federal effort to: prevent and delay chronic disease, reduce risk factors, promote wellness in children and adults, and provide positive sustainable health change in our communities.
Food Fit Philly is part of Get Healthy Philly, a program that works to reduce and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases (like heart disease and diabetes) by increasing access to healthy foods that people can afford.
Your body needs help when it's time to quit. SmokeFree Philly is a program of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health that offers support and tools to help smokers quit. The goal of SmokeFree Philly is to: help people to quit smoking, stop people from starting to use tobacco, and reduce heart disease, cancer and other illnesses caused by smoking.
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