Chicken Coop Chatter©
Cast Iron Cooking is the best way to cook so many varieties of food, and as you scroll through my original recipes, you will see a variety of cast iron cookware that I use daily. There are skillets, griddles, cornbread pans, pizza pans, Dutch ovens, and all types of specialty cast iron pans, so the options are broad for cooking or baking just about anything your heart desires. My cast iron frying pans are over 100 years old, used continuously by me, and by my father before me and likely passed down to him; so most likely used by his family members prior to him as well. Cast Iron does not wear out as long as it is cared for and kept seasoned.
Probably one of the most important things to know about Cast Iron, is that to be efficient it needs to be *seasoned*. and it is important not to wash it in soapy water or allow it to become rusted, which causes pitting of the metal. Modern manufacturers of Cast Iron cookware sell pre-seasoned varieties, and those will need to be re-seasoned periodically or as needed. They typically provide instructions with their cookware when purchased.
Once the cast iron is seasoned, it will periodically need to be re-seasoned to keep it cooking efficiently for you, so foods will not stick to it. In between uses, simply scrape it with a metal spatula or wire grill brush to remove any foods from the surface and wipe out with a soft rag or paper towel, so it is ready to use the next time.
If you cook bacon or other fatty foods in the cast iron, it will very rarely need to be re-seasoned. Simply pour off the fats and wipe clean with a cloth or paper towel.
Lard, bacon fat, Vegetable oil solids, Coconut oil can all be used to re-season your cast iron. Simply wipe the fat/oil around the entire inner surfaces of the cast iron pan, set in your oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and it's ready to go again. You can also use your barbeque grill to season the pans. Just heat about 20 minutes to allow the oils to penetrate the metal.
If your cast iron has rusted or you've found a great yard sale find that has rusted, do not hesitate to wipe away all the excess rust, and use steel wool pad to remove excess rust. Wipe the rust off, rub in lard/oil on all surfaces, and set in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and even that old rusty cast iron will look new once again. If perhaps a second treatment is needed, repeat the seasoning process.
NEVER pour cold water into a hot cast iron pan. This practice can warp or crack your cast iron cookware. Hot water to help loosen cooked on food is fine as long as it is thoroughly wiped dry after soaking. To dry my cast iron after cleaning, I place it on a heated burner on the stove until all visible water has evaporated. Allow to cool before storing away.
IF storing your cast iron cookware away in a garage or unheated basement, season it before storing away so it is less apt to attract rust.
You cook the same with cast iron as you would with any of your stainless steel cookware, however, you will likely use a lower heat since cast iron heats evenly and not just in the center as most cookware does.
Cast Iron works equally as well on the stove top (gas, propane or electric), the oven, the grill, wood stove and over a campfire or coals. I have used mine in all the mentioned heat sources.
CAUTION: Cast Iron cookware is not typically recommended for use on glass top stoves. Before using on a glass top stove, check your manufacturers recommendations. While in search for a new range it was the number one question I asked before making my cooking range purchase. I prefer using cast iron and it was not an option to me to sacrifice my cast iron cookware just to purchase a glass top range.
I have cooked with the cast iron Dutch oven a number of times, using a variety of methods. Cast iron retains heat and it's an all around heat, so baking in cast iron works like an oven if you leave the lid on. If you do use cast iron out camping or even in your backyard, the chart found at the link below may be useful to you.
Charcoal briquettes are the easiest to use and best for controlling the temperature for outdoor cooking, however hardwood fire works as well. Soft woods tend to burn too quickly and burn to ash rather than coals.
For the Care and Cleaning of Cast Iron please refer to my link: http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/recipes-for-self-reliance/category/cleaning-and-care-of-cast-iron-cookware
SOURCE for Cast Iron outdoor cooking Chart: http://www.chuckwagonsupply.com/faqs.html
(To help you get started with cast iron cooking or increase your collection, You will also find Cast Iron Cookbooks and Cast Iron Cookware links below.)
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