If there is one bit of advice I can give my children for a happy life it’s to learn cooking and own at least one cast iron pan.
It’s a common understanding across all cultures and parts of the world that being able to feed yourself and the ones you love is a superpower.
It’s a superpower because it can create deep bonds among family members and lovers. If you ever wanted to impress a future lover, learn to cook.
Thomas Keller in his Masterclass said this about cooking and cooks, he said:
“Cooks cook to nurture people.”
Cooking is a way to nurture the ones you love and it doesn’t require a lot of fancy stuff. All you need are a few simple kitchen utensils and a cast iron pan.
Nonstick vs Cast Iron
Cast iron is a very old invention. It was used for weapons, door frames, and all kinds of things where strength was needed. Once it was fashioned into soup cauldrons and pans to cook food in, it became part of any cook’s arsenal to make food.
Yes, it’s heavy, but its weight is a mere trade-off. Cast Iron cooking gear is versatile and nearly indestructible. You can use it on the stove and then finish up your meal in the oven.
You can use it on a grill. I use to cook bratwursts in beer and sauerkraut right on the grill. Once the brats are cooked and swap them right onto the grill.
You can use it to bake bread or make pizzas.
I sear steaks on the stovetop and then finish it in the oven for a perfect-looking (and medium-rare) steak.
I make breakfast skillets from leftovers the very next day for my excited family. After marinating in the cooked juices overnight the food tastes even better heated up again
But what about non-stick pans? Aren’t they new technology and therefore better? I heard that cast iron pans are harder to clean and care for?
What’s the deal?
There are some big differences between non-stick and cast iron pans. The biggest is that the non-stick pan is easier to clean. Many times, if used properly, you just have to wipe them clean and gently rinse with warm water and soap.
To clean cast iron, you need to scrape off stuff first, rinse, and in some cases scrub. You’re not supposed to use soap and you have to towel dry it. All this aftercare is super important to keep the pan’s non-stickiness intact.
Both types of pans can be non-sticky. Non-stick pans come with the chemical coating already and all you need to do is use special utensils not to scratch the coating. Once you scratch the coating your non-stick pan becomes a regular pan, where everything can stick.
Cast iron can be a very powerful non-stick pan as long as its seasoning remains intact. What is seasoning? Seasoning is all the fat and oils you used in cooking that bond with the cast iron and create its non-stick coating.
What to see how sexy a well-seasoned cast iron pan is? Just look at these eggs sliding around a well-seasoned pan!
Eggs! On a cast-iron pan? Who would’ve thought that was even possible!
I would dare to say that a properly seasoned cast iron pan has superior non-stick properties than the average non-stick pan.
However, just like with a regular non-stick pan, the seasoning can be destroyed by improper after-care during clean-up and cooking high acid foods like tomatoes.
So what do you do if the seasoning is destroyed? You can fix it in so many ways. Just cook something fatty or with oil. Or you can just clean it and wipe oil on it and then bake the pan on high for a few minutes. Here’s a handy guide on how to season your pan.
Achievement unlocked! Cast iron pan renewed!
In my experience, a properly cared for cast iron pan will outperform a non-stick pan every single time.
Where can you get a cast iron pan? New ones can be bought at your local superstore that has kitchen wares. If you want some cheaper you could check out your local thrift stores.
Happy cast iron cooking!