These 6 Myths About Cast-Iron Pans Will Change How You Cook
I have a definite love-hate relationship with my cast-iron skillet. On the one hand, every meat I’ve cooked in it has been at least ten times tastier than any I made before getting my cast-iron. On the other hand, taking care of the cast-iron can feel like more work than a pet. Between protecting it from soap, re-seasoning it, and fending off any and all metal utensils, it can be tempting to break out the old, cheap pans and call it a day. Feel the same? Then you’ll feel as relieved as I did when I saw this article from Today debunking the most common cast-iron myths. Turns out, we’ve been lied to for a long time! Did you know . . .
- Soap is totally fine to use?
- And so are metal utensils?
- The one thing you should actually avoid is too much water?
- Seasoning is really easy?
- It doesn’t heat evenly?
- We don’t have to worry so much about them?
This one is such a relief. Granted, we still shouldn’t empty out half the soap bottle into the skillet, but it’s not the seasoning-ruining poison we’ve all been led to believe. If there’s a mess in your pan that just won’t budge, go ahead and call on the soap to scrub it away.
Again, don’t go overboard, but you can lower the “No Metal!” shields. The seasoning and the pan are tough, so as long as you’re not deliberately trying to inscribe a message in the skillet, metal is fine.
Soaking your skillet is actually the worst thing you can do for the seasoning and totally damaging to the cast-iron. If there’s caked-on food, use kosher salt to loosen it up and scrape it away. Be sure to re-season immediately after cleaning— and speaking of which . . .
All you need to do to season a brand-new cast-iron? Start cooking. Sautéing what you normally make is enough to begin the magic. Re-seasoning is easy, too— just wash it with water and, if needed, soap (small amounts of both!), and put it on the stovetop over high heat until the water evaporates. Once it’s dry and cool, use a paper towel to rub it down all over with your favorite oil.
The magic of the cast-iron isn’t in even cooking, a popular myth. You’ll actually need to preheat your cast-iron pan for longer than other pans – about 10 minutes – and move it around on the burner to get it evenly warmed. The actual magic happens after this step— the cast-iron holds heat energy for longer and radiates more of it, even when you add your meat to it.
Seriously. The most pernicious and stubborn myth about our cast-iron skillets is that they’re as fragile as fine china, and that’s just not so! It’s the one kitchen item you own that has a very good chance of outliving you. Just make sure to re-oil it after you use and clean it, and don’t dump a lot of water into it – especially when it’s very hot! – and you’ll be all set.
Well, I feel relieved, don’t you?! Which of these myths did you believe? What debunked myth was the biggest surprise for you?