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Jamie @ The Unseasoned Wok

As you know I fall rather easily in love with kitchen appliances. I like appliances that can do many things. My Cuisinart blending stick= whisk and food processor. I like appliances that can only do one thing, but do that one thing very well; how did I live before acquiring my zester? When it comes to my pans I like it simple. I’m not interested in these pans with Teflon coats, shine that will wear off the second you try to sizzle some bacon, or pretty flower doodles on the side. When it comes to pans I think in terms of simplicity and functionality. I think back to more simple times when people carted their belongings around in covered band wagons. I’m channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder and her incredibly attractive father.

I’m talking cast iron pans.

I’m not sure why I don’t see them hanging in more people’s kitchens. Perhaps it’s because they’re a tad heavy or because they are not ornate. What ever the reason, I’m hoping to convince you to go Team Iron after this posting.

Cast iron cookware has been around for hundreds of years. They are the original non-stick pan, and they retain a lot of heat making them excellent for frying. Plus, they’re super versatile and can be put in the oven.


The first thing you need to do with your cast iron before you use it is season the pan. Seasoning the pan gives it that great non-stick quality (yes for cutting down on arduous scrubbing time). People use many methods to season a pan. Some people use high quality fat drippings they’ve saved over time. Other people like to use oils. When I had to season my pans I used good ol’ Crisco. Seasoning a pan is a great rainy day activity, as the pan needs to sit in the oven for a few hours. Do some homework, watch movies, or clean the apartment. This video shows the technique I used. It seemed the most basic, and I haven’t had any trouble with my pans yet. I honestly loved the seasoning process. I instantly felt much closer to the food I would be eating. Most people recommend to re-season your pan yearly.


Segregation is only cool when doing laundry and cooking with cast iron

Now that you’ve accomplished the hardest part of owning cast iron pan, you just have to make sure you maintain them by cooking smart. A great thing about cast iron is that the pans hold in the flavor of the foods you cook in them. Chris and I use one of my mom’s old pans exclusively for eggs and only eggs. Occasionally omelet innards—tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and cheese—will find their way in, but we are really strict about what goes in to maintain the flavor. Come over to our house if you want some good eggs.  We also have three more pans. One is for cooking vegetables and the occasional pancake since it’s wider than the egg pan. The other is for our beef and chicken (if we are making stir fry we’ll add veggies.) I’ve tied a string around the handle of the meat one so we can tell the difference. The third one is my baby: the grill pan. It’s excellent for burgers of the beef and Portobello variety and great for fish. It doesn’t get the most use, but it has never let me down.


Treat it gently

One super important thing you need to remember when using cast iron is you have to clean it properly. Do not use soap or metal scrapers to clean the pan. Instead invest in a good sponge and a bristle brush that will never see the white of suds. Save the soapy sponges for the rest of your dishes. If you use soap it will eat away at the seasoning and will make you food taste blah. If you have something sticky in the pan, try to scrape it off while it’s still warm with a wooden spoon. It’ll make later cleaning much easier. In some occasions, you can get away with not washing it. We rarely wash our egg pan. Usually we just wipe it out, which is a luxury for fried egg aficionados. Users beware: don’t let it sit anywhere too long with water in it if you’ve got an unusually sticky mess. You’ll leave a rust stain in the bottom of your sink or on your counter, which means two things to scrub!

Health benefits

Cooking with iron can also reap surprising benefits. This summer when I was going through my soon to be discovered gluten issues, I went to get my blood checked for anemia. The doctors said my iron levels were fine, which I was mildly surprised by since I wasn’t super great at eating beans or taking supplements. It turns out that cooking with iron leaves traces of it in your food. Normally trace residue isn’t desirable, but in this case it helps out. This is great for vegans, vegetarians, and women in general, as we need to consume a sizeable amount of daily iron because of menstruation. The only people who should be concerned are people with an excess iron condition called hemochromatosis.

I strongly encourage you to add a cast iron pan or two (or three, or four) to your kitchen repertoire. Your food will taste better, cleaning will be easier, your health might increase, and you’ll feel more rustic. Yee-haawww!

Peel Away ❤