It’s Okay to Cook Acidic Dishes in Cast Iron (and Other Cast Iron Myths, Debunked)

Despite the fact that humans have been cooking with cast iron for about 2000 years—cooks in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) used kettles and pans cast of iron—there still exists a ton of mystery around cookware made of the stuff. “Is my cast-iron skillet ruined if it’s rusty?” or “I heard you can’t use soap to clean a cast-iron skillet—is that true?” Don’t worry: We’re here to demystify cooking with cast-iron skillets, and to debunk any myths that surround caring for them.

Source: Six Stubborn Cast Iron Myths Debunked

Thirty minutes isn’t a long time to simmer tomato sauce though – depends on the tomato sauce. Some sauces — all’amatriciana, for instance — should not even be simmered that long. Well seasoned or not, you’ll still get some iron leaching into your food too, but that’s a good thing and the trade off makes it worth it. I choose not to cook acidic foods in my cast iron because I find I have to re-season it more often.

Use Your Cast Iron Pan as a Pizza Stone

Cast iron frying pans are versatile, durable, and remarkably cheap. While pans that have passed down for generations might have a whole lot of sentimental value, you can buy a brand new cast iron frying pan without shelling out much cash. But do you think of using one when you’re not frying up bacon?

Source: 7 Ways to Use a Cast Iron Frying Pan (Besides Frying)

Cast iron pans are also great for making deep dish pizza.  Which isn’t real pizza…. 😉

Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

I don’t really do resolutions like “running” or “clean eating,” but I do enjoy the “take charge of your life!” energy that each January brings. Instead of harnessing that energy to start a diet, consider making a few resolutions that aim to improve your kitchen and kitchen-related skills.

Though there’s nothing wrong with starting a diet per se, I prefer to focus on changes that make me more excited to cook at home, rather than focusing on calories or “cleanliness.” The better a cook I become, the more likely I am to make meals for myself, which will be healthier and cheaper than eating out. Here are seven ways you can better your cooking in 2016 and, unlike some resolutions, these are likely to last the whole year.

Source: Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

Try to cook four dishes, from a different country …each month.  Maybe a tad less if your INR is fluctuating though.  I know of a circle of friends who theme a potluck for a challenge while not having to cook everything themselves.

Switch to Coconut Oil for Its Fat-Burning Properties

What really takes the (coconut) cake is that [coconut oil is] super affordable—a 14-ounce jar can cost as little as $7, making it the most wallet-friendly all-in-one product yet. Seriously, it’s a beauty product, household cleaner, and more. Check out these 76 ways to use coconut oil in your day-to-day life.

Source: 76 Genius Coconut Oil Uses

I had to look – there is vitamin K in coconut oil, but very little:

  • 1 cup/218 grams of coconut oil contains 1.1 mcg of vitamin K, 1% of the Daily Value (DV)

Looking at the other nutritional “value” the article claims – 0.1 mcg of iron for 1 cup of coconut oil is 0% DV.  And 2% DV of vitamin E.  Coconut oil has a lot of calories, from fat.

How to Choose Between a Gas, Induction, or Electric Cooktop

A stove is a combination of a cooktop, and an oven.

Remodeling a kitchen means lots of decisions, but few are as important to your cooking as what type of cooktop (or range) you want. Here’s a primer on the three options to help you choose the one that suits you best.

For years the choice was always between gas or electric, and if you didn’t have a gas line to the kitchen, the choice was made for you. Induction cooktops, which have been popular in Europe for years, are now gaining a foothold in America and have become an attractive third option.

Source: How to Choose Between a Gas, Induction, or Electric Cooktop

I don’t agree with the claim that a gas provides “instant heat”.  You can provide all the heat you want, the pan/pot/skillet/etc needs to heat up.  …and I might have managed to turn the gas on, but not ignite the gas in the past. 😉

Be aware that it is still possible to burn yourself on induction cooktops.  The induction warms/heats the cookware, which will heat the surface of the cooktop.

The article doesn’t mention what you can use to cook on the cooktop.  The flat top cooktop (induction or electric) doesn’t do well with cast iron.  The flat top will be fine, if you don’t move the skillet/frying pan.  Depending on temperature, you could try using a silicon sheet (like the Silpat) but there’s still a chance at high temps that you could melt the silicon pad onto your cooktop.

Having lived with old-school electrical cooktops, I do not miss them.  I don’t miss putting aluminum foil in the bottoms, mainly to make cleaning easier.

Cleaning a flat top is very easy, especially when you get the tool.  It’s basically an old-school razor blade in a plastic housing.  Mine is about the size of a business or credit card.  It works like an Exacto knife – it’s retraced until you move it out, and you only so far to extend it.  How long it lasts depends on how you cook.  But a flat top always looks dirty to me, even if it isn’t – similar to the smear you see on touchscreens (tablets, smartphones, etc).

How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

Serious Eats has become a pretty great resource for cast iron cooking, thanks to some of the articles Kenji has written on the topic, from recipes to care and maintenance guides as well as some serious myth busting.

One of the wonders of cast iron is that it’s tough as nails, and can last for generations. For those looking to take their cast iron cooking to the next level, a nice piece of vintage cookware is a pretty sweet first step. It’s not that the vintage stuff is worlds better than the modern pans available today—the smoother finish characteristic of very old cast iron provides only marginally better non-stick properties.

Source: How to Restore Vintage Cast Iron Pans

If you do the water/lye approach, deal with the solution afterwards while considering the following:

  1. It’s basically drain cleaner, so it can be dumped down the drain
  2. Neutralize it (slowly) with citric acid (it’s an exothermic reaction)
  3. Check ordnances, because it may not be legal to dump that much into the sewer system
  4. Septic system?  Not sure how to handle this

Watch a Cast Iron Skillet Get Made

Here’s a link to the video (vimeo, 3:33).  It is an advertisement for Finex rather than a documentary, sadly.  The voiceover talks about the history of the cast iron cookware, and the current effort to bring back the quality of the old Griswold.  Still, a reasonable (and quick) watch…

I grew up cooking on cast iron, to the point that I destroyed the family’s new non-stick pan.  For whatever reason, I decided to cut whatever I was cooking in the pan.  I was just a kid…  But I don’t remember the family ever seasoning the cast iron either.

Seasoning the pan is very important, just like sharpening if not honing the knives, putting air in your tires, and so on.  Recently, some suggested seasoning with flax oil but it would seem the temperature (500 F) is more important.  Whatever oil you choose, be aware of the relative smoke point or your smoke detector might remind you…

And while you can use cast iron on induction heating, no one recommends you move the cast iron for fear of scratching the surface.  The Lodge stuff I looked at recently made a such statement on the label.