Cast Iron Cookware - Top 3 Benefits

Any good cook worth his or her salt, knows that cast iron cookware is superior to most other cookware in so many ways.

If you're using aluminum or stainless steel cookware in your kitchen, try this: get yourself just one good cast iron skillet, and use it for a month. This will likely be enough to convince you of its many benefits!

The Three Main Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware

If you're considering trying it, or if you have some that you are not currently using, here are some things to think about.

  1. Distributes heat evenly. Eliminate the "hot" and "cold" spots you'll find on thin aluminum or stainless steel pots. Cookware that distributes heat evenly will improve your results!
  2. Retains its heat. You'll soon come to love the heat retention, even after removing it from the heat source. Great to use for serving as your food stays hot longer! And lets face it, if it's supposed to be served hot, you want cookware that will deliver!
  3. Outlasts other cookware. Quality cast iron cookware will outlast you! There's a good chance your grandchildren will pass it on to their kids. If it's well cared for, it will last for generations.

Caring for your cookware
Whether you inherit this great cookware or buy it new, a few simple pointers will ensure your cookware serves you well now and can be passed on for generations.
Season it!
Well seasoned cast iron is the best "no-stick" cookware you could ever wish for! And there is no risk of contamination from possible toxic compounds leaching into your food as is possible with Teflon and other coatings.

It's really quite simple. If you have new cast iron that is not pre-seasoned (much of it now comes seasoned) or you have old, possibly rusted cookware that needs some "help", here are the steps to take to create a long-lasting, natural, non-stick cooking surface:

  1. Begin with " clean" cookware. In this case, clean means free of any coasting that may have been applied by the manufacturer. If you have old cast iron, ensure it is free of rust. A palm sander with a medium grit disk works well to clean the surface. Change the disk as required to ensure you get down to the bare metal.
  2. Use lard to season the surface. Using enough to cover the surface to about 1/8 of an inch, place the pan in the oven at 300°F and bake for a couple of hours. Then pour off the excess lard. Let the pan cool, then wipe with a paper towel. The process may be repeated a couple of times for best results. It's best to use the pan for some oil or fat dishes the first few times after seasoning.
  3. Clean your pan properly after each use. Simply wipe it with a paper towel, or, if some food has stuck to the pan, soak it for a few minutes, then wipe the pan. Never use detergent or scouring pads as this will remove the seasoned surface.

If you don't anticipate using your cast iron for a long period of time, it's a good idea to wipe it with a thin coat of a stable oil such as olive oil to help keep moisture, and therefore rust, at bay.

One word of caution: because this cookware is such a good conductor of heat, pot and pan handles get extremely hot. Keep some good potholders handy and be sure to use them!

Kim Thornton is the co-creator and webmaster for ... your complete online resource for rustic lodge decor and lifestyle!

For more information about cast iron cookware, its benefits and care, see this page.