5 reasons why I love to cook using cast iron skillets.
We all have some favorite kitchen tools that we love as a part of our everyday cooking. For me, my cast iron skillets are a must in my kitchen. They are on my list of essentials whenever I’m cooking. If I am cooking at a friends house I will bring my cast iron pans with me.
I have such fond memories of my grandma and grandpa’s farm. My grandma was one of the people who helped birth my love of cooking while I spent many summers and holidays in the kitchen making memories with her. She had cast iron skillets in her kitchen that had been there for years. Everything always seemed to taste better at her house. She made cooking exciting and she let me and my sisters be a part while teaching us to love creating meals that brought the family together. It was the epicenter of their home, the place where everyone’s day converged. Having the right tools to create these meals was essential.
When Jamie and I first got married I followed current trends and tried all kinds of expensive pots and pans from stainless steel to teflon, etc. and yet none of them cooked quite like my grandmother’s cast iron skillets did.
There are so many benefits to using cast iron not only from a health perspective but also practically. I wanted to share 5 reasons why I think you should own at least 1 cast iron skillet in your home.
It is indestructible. It is nearly impossible to ruin this pan. It is sturdy and if you drop it – it won’t break. It is made of iron and is tough enough to handle any abuse. If you get rust on it you can clean it and re-season it. Never throw a cast iron away, it is never beyond bringing it back to its former glory!
It is good for your health. It is chemical-free cooking, cast iron skillets allow you to avoid the harmful chemicals that are found in aluminum and certain nonstick pans. When you use pans with nonstick coating it contains per-fluorocarbons that are released into the food you are cooking. When a pan is seasoned well it also requires less oil and makes it naturally nonstick so it requires no sprays or extra oil. The final reason it is better for your health is because of the iron. There is a lack of iron in a lot of people’s diet and can be a cause of anemia, which decreases red blood cell and oxygen levels in the body. While cast iron doesn’t release harmful chemicals into your food, it does add a trace of iron as an added benefit to your diet.
It is versatile. Cast iron can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and over the campfire. It can withstand hotter temperatures than your average pan. It can withstand temps between 450-500+ with no problem or damage to the pan. I love to use my pan on the grill to cook bacon, sausage, and eggs. It cooks so quickly, gets the nice and crispy and best part of all your house doesn’t smell like bacon. We love to make breakfast outside and eat it by the pool while we watch the sun come up. For those who are non-campers, it gives a small feeling of “camping” while being in the comfort of your home.
You can use the pan for just about any cooking method. You can bake in it, sauté, simmer, fry, and steam.
It is an easy cleanup. Cast iron is very easy to clean and can be cleaned when the pans are still warm. I recommend using an iron wool scrubbing pad or this amazing chainmail stainless steel scrubber. It makes cleaning easier and gets rid of any food that is stuck in the pan. There is a myth that you can’t use soap in a cast iron but I have used it on occasion and had no problems. If I cook fish or something that is a bit stronger I will use a small drop of soap. Alternatively, you can re-season with oil and put in a 350-400 oven for at least 30 min. These levels of heat will also kill any bacteria just as good as the soap.
It is important to know that when you wash the pan whether with soap or water to dry it immediately. Do not leave it to air dry or you will end up with rust in your pan. I usually dry it, rub it with a little oil and throw it back on a medium heat stovetop for 5-10 minutes, let it cool and throw it back in the cupboard. Cast Iron pans are heavy so a regular storage rack doesn’t hold the weight very well. I found a rack on amazon, which is made for cast iron skillets and has held up in our kitchen for several years now.
It is economical. Cast irons are not expensive to invest into and they will last you your entire lifetime. A 12-inch pan is a great place to start, the average price is $15-$20. If you were to buy a nonstick skillet that was the same size the average price is $25-50 and you will be lucky if you get 2 years out of the pan before you have to replace it.
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You are investing into your future kitchen and even your family as you can always pass the pans along to the generations after you. It is a small investment worth making. You will find that your food cooks more evenly and that meals turn out far more consistently each time you cook.
Never under estimate the value of a good pan in your kitchen. It really can make or break your cooking experience. I will always have cast iron pans in my kitchen because they give me a consistent result every time I use them and they get even better with age!
What item is essential in your kitchen?