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Cast Iron Cooking: Everything You Need to Know

Cast iron cookware often evokes images of olden days and campfire cookouts, yet the classic culinary tool remains just as popular today as it ever was. There’s a good reason why cast iron cookware has been around for so many years — it’s incredibly durable and long lasting. If you’ve never used cast iron before, you may have heard intimidating horror stories about how hard it is to use, clean, and store. But once you know the basic principles of cooking with cast iron, there’s a good chance you’ll find it just as easy to use and care for as many other types of kitchen equipment.

What are the benefits of using cast iron cookware? One of the main reasons cast iron has been held in high regard for so many years is that it’s nearly indestructible. In fact, with a bit of cleaning and care, even cast iron cookware that’s been neglected and left to rust can often be restored to a condition almost like new. What’s more, cast iron that’s been properly seasoned develops its own nonstick surface. The best part is, unlike traditional nonstick pans made with Teflon or ceramic coatings, the nonstick surface on cast iron can be reapplied over and over again with a process known as “seasoning.” Aarogyam Cast Iron cookware products are pre-seasoned to perfection. The natural nonstick surface and sturdy nature may be cast iron’s most notable benefits, but the perks of the cookware don’t stop there.

Some other notable benefits of cooking with cast iron include:

  • Holds heat well. Once cast iron has warmed up, it stays warm which helps keep food hot. But you should also know this means it takes a while for cast iron to fully heat up and fully cool down.
  • Works well with many heat sources. Cast iron can be used on any type of stovetop (gas, electric, or induction). It can also be used over an open flame like a campfire or placed directly into the oven as a baking dish would be. It can be used in an OTG oven.
  • Easy to clean. Once you know the fundamentals of cleaning cast iron, it’s no more difficult to clean than other types of cookware. Plus, its natural nonstick surface might even make it easier to clean than glass or aluminum.
  • Affordable. Cast iron cookware is often sold at affordable prices and since it lasts nearly forever, you can view it as a one-time investment. It’s usually easy to find cast iron at thrift stores and second-hand shops too.
  • Comes in many shapes and sizes. Cast iron kadhai’s are probably the most popular form of this cookware, and it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Other products with different sizes are dosa tawa, shallow fry pans, skillets, paniyaram pans.
  • Can be used for cooking and serving. Many people find cast iron cookware aesthetically pleasing and it can make a nice addition to any table setting. In fact, many restaurants even use mini cast-iron skillets as serving dishes.

Does cooking in cast iron have health benefits? You may have heard that cooking with cast iron is a natural way to add more iron to your diet. It’s in fact true that cooking with cast iron might add some iron to your meals, but exactly how much depends on a number of factors like what you’re cooking, how long it’s in the pan, and how well your cast iron is seasoned.

Tips for cooking with cast iron Cast iron cookware is suitable for many types of cooking but especially:

  • browning
  • searing
  • sautéing
  • baking
  • braising
  • roasting
  • frying

Cast iron works wonders for many foods, but there are a few cases where you might want to avoid cast iron cookware, such as when you’re boiling water or letting something simmer. The reason is that your food may absorb more iron flavor than you’d like if it’s cooked in cast iron for an extended period of time.

Further, acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, and vinegar are likely to absorb the iron flavors of cast iron, which may be undesirable at times. They’re also harsh on cast iron cookware and might remove some of your pan’s natural nonstick coating.

Cast iron works best for browning, sautéing, baking, and frying but should be avoiding when boiling and simmering.

How to maintain a cast iron There are four fundamental steps to caring for cast iron cookware:

  1. Season it properly.
  2. Clean it regularly.
  3. Store it safely.
  4. Re-season it as needed.

To season cast iron cookware:

  1. Starting with a clean piece of cookware, rub a light coat of oil (too much oil will create a sticky pan) over the entire thing including the top and bottom, inside and outside, and any handles.
  2. Place the piece of cookware in a preheated oven between 450°F–500°F (232°C–260°C) for approximately one hour. It’s usually a good idea to put a baking pan on a lower rack of the oven to catch any oil that might drop off. If you don’t have an oven, just place it on your stove!

Re-season it as needed If you start to see rust or notice that your pan is turning lighter in color, it’s a good sign that it’s time to re-season.

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