Cooking with Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware has been around for many years, but it is making a comeback into the modern day kitchen due to its increase versatility and durability. Cast iron pans are known for the hard wearing nature that will last generations and unlike most things in your kitchen it gets better with age so hopefully it could save you some money over the years.
When to use cast iron?
With its traditional aesthetic, many may believe that cast iron is only suitable eon gas stoves, in ovens or around a campfire. Although all of these options are valid, it is also suitable to be used on induction stovetop surface, due to its high ferromagnetic nature. Cast iron retains a constant heat, making it perfect for searing a steak or baking a cookie skillet. Unlike some of successors, the cast iron pan is not originally 100% non-stick, however once seasoned by yourself it will have that glossy finish, similar to many modern non-stick pans.
How to season the pan?
Seasoning the pan is not to do with whether you should add rosemary or thyme, but it is a process that changes the texture of the pan to prevent rusting, improve the lifetime and provide that non-stick layer. This is not just a one time thing, you should re-season your pan if you notice it has turned dull of food is sticking to it.
Using some steel wool and soapy water you want to scrub the entire dish, inside and out, remembering to the handle too. You do this to remove any dirt or impurities not just on the top layer but the aim is to return it to its base layer. Once you have scrubbed all of the grime off just rinse with hot water and use the back of a sponge to go over it once again.
Now you want to make sure that it is fully dry, thing to remember is that sitting water will make it rust. After using a hand towel to remove the excess water, place the pan onto your hob to any water inside the pan to evaporate.
Once the pan is bone dry wee want to add in some oil, flax seed oil is known to provide the best outcome. Pour a little into the pan and using kitchen roll you want to achieve a thin layer over all the surface on the pan.
With a separate piece of kitchen roll you now are just going to wipe any excess off. You can be very thorough with this, as a too thick oil layer will result in a stick pan.
Now put your cast iron pan into the oven on around 230 degrees Celsius, basically the highest they can go. This will allow the oil to bond with the surface and create the smooth layer. Leave the oven on for about an hour and then let the cast iron cool down in there too.
How to maintain the pan?
There isn't a laborious maintenance program that comes with owning a cast iron pan. The best thing to do is to use it often. Clean it gently with a scourer and hot soapy water, removing the dirt from your cooking, and then make sure it is bone dry before storing it away, our tip is to put it in the oven for 10 minutes. If you feel your pan is turning dull or not cooking up to the standard you are used to, try re-seasoning it.
Which cast iron should I buy?
This 3 piece set by Nuovva is a brilliant addition to your kitchen utensils, its range of sizes allows you to innovate and utilise them to their full potential. Cooking for a family or just for yourself, these pans are very well suited. At just over £10 a pan, they are great value for money too. We would recommend you complete the seasoning process before use, despite the company saying they are pre-seasoned, it will increase the longevity of the product.
If buying just one cast iron skillet is what you are after then spending out on the high brand stuff is not always required. This Utopia cast iron skillet is ideal, it large size means the is incredibly versatile, you can bake pasta dishes or brownies or even a side of salmon in it. Once again, this pan is advertised as being pre-seasoned, we recommend seasoning it yourself.
If you are a bit of a cast iron geek, and want to step up your game we recommend purchasing a Le Creuset signature cast iron pan. The brand is renowned for its luxurious finish to its cookware, and with its cast iron range being its best seller. Although it is at the high end of the prices, you get what you pay for. With an enamelled finish the Le Creuset pans can be treated like the modern stainless steel ones you already have in your cupboards, the do not require seasoning and are dishwasher safe. They are also suitable to be used on induction hobs too.