Cookware through the years has seen many changes…yet, it seems to me that the best has been around a long time. What we cook our food in matters. We seek alternatives to toxic non-stick cookware and alternatives to aluminum. Stainless steel, which seems to be the healthiest alternative is expensive, and it doesn’t lend itself well to cooking eggs, pancakes and other dishes that non-stick cookware typically excels at.
I encourage you to reach way back in the drawer, or to look in the basement or garage for your long lost cast iron skillet and Dutch oven. If you think you don't even own one, refrain from purchasing a new one - they're not the same. Simply ask someone in your family for Great Grandma Anne's or Aunt Dora's fyring pan. Or, get thee to a tag sale.
There's nothing like the oldies - they are truly goodies. Let them be your workhorse – they’re also an easy clean up! Discover the benefits of cast iron cooking!
Top Ten Reasons to Use a Cast Iron Skillet
(Source: Natural News)
- Replacing a non-stick skillet with a cast iron one allows you to avoid the toxic fumes that accompany most non-stick cookware. Cast iron can also replace aluminum cookware, which may also pose health hazards.
- Besides the stove, you can use a cast iron skillet in the oven, at any temperature. This comes in handy for making everything from corn bread, to frittatas and flat bread – or simply roasting root vegetables and more.
- It is nonstick. Surprisingly, a preheated cast iron skillet rivals the qualities of non-stick cookware, as long as it is properly seasoned and cared for. You can quickly move up this short learning curve by talking with your local Boy Scouts, or by reading a book or internet article about cast iron care.
- Cast iron is easy to clean up. Not only does food easily lift off from cast iron cookware, soap is not needed or recommended, since it erodes the seasoning.
- There are health benefits. You can actually boost your iron intake from eating food cooked in cast iron cookware. This vital mineral is crucial for maintaining energy levels, and it helps strengthen immune systems.
- It is inexpensive. Cooks looking to replace non-stick cookware often investigate stainless. However, a high-end, 12-inch stainless skillet runs well over $100, while a similar-sized cast iron one costs less than $30. Look for affordable used cast iron at tag sales, garage sales and antique stores.
- Food cooks beautifully. Using a cast iron skillet you can create restaurant-quality, homemade fish sticks, potato pancakes and French toast, complete with golden brown, crispy exteriors. Compare this to non-stick cookware, which makes browning nearly impossible.
- Cast iron is sturdy and wears well. Since it does not scratch, there is no need to use plastic utensils, and there is no fear of using your silverware to stir or scoop. Cast iron lasts forever! Many people still use cast iron cookware inherited from their parents and grandparents.
- In an emergency, cast iron cookware can be used over any heat source. As such, many disaster planning lists include cast iron as the survival cookware of choice.
- It has been used for thousands of years. Many of us already understand how new technologies are often the least healthy, while those used by earlier generations are often more beneficial and more in line with how we are designed. Our cookware choice is no exception.
I love it that most 5th grade curriculum teach the Oregon Trail - and guess what was used for their forever cookware that endured the miles, the hardships, the fire and helped to sustain health? Yup, cast iron cookware. Think Dutch oven. Take a step back in time and give your dark shiny a renewed life in your indoor and outdoor kitchen, you'll be glad you did.
We'll talk more about outdoor cooking with cast iron - it's truly an easy button for all ages.
When cooking in your cast iron, keep it simple to start - think oven and veggies freshly picked from your Square Foot Garden, especially root veggies such as carrots, potatoes, parsnip, beets & fennel. A splash of olive oil or little coconut oil, sea salt and pepper. Then you can become more adventurous with fritattas and gratins.
Although, there are many benefits to cast iron cooking, make sure to understand that some folks consider there to be drawbacks - so, before you start: cast iron pans are very heavy; they require intentional maintenance in order to keep them rust-free and non-stick (but, I don't follow that code of cast iron); and care is needed if you have a glass-top stove. It's worth it, and it's really not much of an effort - more of an easy button, I like to think...and, better for your health, if you are cooking.
Once you take the plunge, you will wonder why it took you so long to start!