Cast Iron is threaded throughout the entire human tapestry since the very first piece of iron was cast. Originated as a comparatively easily conjured hardware, cast iron began it's lifestyle serving as a food prep and heating vessel in the mid 19th century. Its heat transfer qualities allowed it to be the first of the effective pieces of cookware inserted directly into a fire.
These qualities exploit equally one of the most excellent advantages and one the greatest downfalls of Cast Iron. The forged metal natural heats perfectly even through the piece. This introduces the significant HEAT transferred to the handle making it difficult to move once heated. Combined with the extreme weight of the vessel, Cast has significant obstacles. None, of course, that can't be overcome with the forearms and scap muscles of a Renegade.
However, this vessel has been vibrantly used for well over a century, and although many have tried, nobody has been able to come up with anything that compares to the culinary advantages of the Cast Iron Skillet.
Cast iron is absorbant, so all of the lovely flavors that you cook in the vessel will be gently transferred to each meal. This provides a gentle sloping waterfall transition for the pallet. This absorbancy makes it indefinitely important to take good care of each vessel to maintain its qualities.
Cast Iron is the original non-stick pan and to this day retains the title of King of all non-stick cooking surfaces. If you take care of your cast and it is of high quality, your food will literally never stick. Jams, sticky sauces, nothing will stick.
Cooking with Cast Iron
Cooking with cast iron is an interesting alternative to using non-stick cooking surfaces. Cast iron cookware is heavy duty and quite durable. You can be pre-heated to temperature that will easily brown meat, and can be used for basically any dish you can think of. It is also versatile, as it can easily move from stovetop, to the barbeque or campfire, or into the oven. Cast iron will withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pans. An important trick to maintaining cast iron cookware is called “seasoning” your cast iron. It is also often called “curing”. Seasoning or curing cast iron cookware means filling the pores and voids in the metal with grease of some sort, which provides a smooth, non-stick surface. If you do this properly, your food will never stick and your cast iron will never rust.
One of the reasons cast iron is so highly valued is for its cooking properties. With cast iron, heat is evenly distributed and held, making it ideal for deep frying, searing, and even baking. It can replace most of your traditional dishes, even your favorite casserole dish. You can easily bake cakes, pies, biscuits, and anything else you can think of in your cast iron cookware.
It is important that you should always preheat your cast iron pans before you fry in them. This will prevent your food from sticking, and will give you much better results. In order to test whether or not your cast iron is heated to the right temperature, you can drizzle a few drops of water into it. The water should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan when it is hot enough. However, if the water disappears immediately after being dropped, your pan is too hot, and if it simply bubbles, it is not quite hot enough. You do not need large amounts of water for this. A few small drops will suffice.
Cast iron should also never be used to store food. The iron can and will leach out into the food. Acidic foods often come out darker due to iron leaching. This is not harmful, though, and many people do this on purpose to help with iron deficiencies. Though you can use your cast iron to boil water, it is generally not recommended. Often it will cause small bits of oil to break away from the surface and can be found floating around. Also, the water will break down the seasoning you have put onto your cast iron and that would be unfortunate. Finally, boiling water in cast iron can cause it to rust.
Since cast iron cookware is not dishwasher safe, you need to wash your pieces by hand. Many people disagree over whether or not to use detergent on your cast iron. Personally, I do use dishwashing soap. However, never soak it or let any soapy water sit for any length of time. Mostly, you just want to wash out the pan and then rinse thoroughly. Once you have done this, you can put back some of the oil you may have washed away. Put the cast iron on the stove and head it for a minute or so, to make sure it is dry, then give it a light coat of cooking oil. Put the pan back onto the stove and keep it there for several minutes. When you are done, simply wipe out any access with a paper towel.
If you take care of your cast iron cookware it will last for many, many years. It is one of the most durable forms of cookware available. It is also very enjoyable to use and give food a unique flavor that you will quickly become addicted to. In my opinion, using cast iron cookware is one of the greatest ways to cook food.
Camp Cooking with Cast Iron
Camping in the great outdoors is something that never gets old. Most of us have memories of camping from childhood, and even as adults, it’s nice to get back to nature and relive some of those memories. Remember what it was like to spend all day outside in the fresh, cool air, or how beautiful the stars looked when you were away from city lights? And somehow, food always tasted better cooked over a campfire. You can still recapture all of those old memories by packing up the family and heading out into the great outdoors. If you are like me, you will not want to be parted from your cast iron cookware when you leave for a weekend of outdoor fun. Most of your cast iron cookware is great to carry along with you, and will not be damaged by campfire cooking. Personally, I like to have two different sets: one for my home, one for camping, and this is a great option as cast iron cookware lasts for a very long time.
I like to buy sets of cast iron cookware to take with me so that I am sure to have whatever I need when I am camping. Here is my recommendation for a great cast iron set for camping. This set is made of high quality cast iron and it is designed to distribute the heat evenly over the pan, even when you use it over an open fire, so it is perfect for cooking while camping. This particular set comes with a 10 inch Frying pan, a 6 quart chicken fryer with a lid, a 10 inch dutch oven with a lid lifter, and as a bonus comes with cast iron hot handle holders. This is a great addition to any outdoor kitchen, and you can cook whatever you want while camping. This is my personal favorite and the one that I take with me on camping trips.
Another great addition to your outdoor kitchen is a sturdy cast iron kettle for making tea and coffee for those early mornings and chilly nights. This kettle is very sturdy and heavy-duty, easily able to handle any wear and tear. It also suffers no damage when put over an open fire. This particular one comes pre-seasoned and ready to use straight out of the box. It also has a 2 Quart capacity. I enjoy this kettle and was well worth the money.
If you go camping a lot and want a good surface to cook on, I highly recommend the purchase of a portable cooking table. This provides a large surface to cook on, and is large enough to accommodate 2 Dutch ovens. It is made up of highly durable steal, and has a black finish. It is specifically made to be safe to use with charcoal, and comes with folding legs, making it easier to transport. The design is excellent as it provides a natural windbreak, which is really convenient when cooking on those windy days. Granted, cooking over an open fire is a more authentic experience, using a cooking table will make your camping trips much more pleasant. This one in particular is worth the money for the windbreak alone. This is an excellent purchase and well worth the money I spent on it. One addition I would recommend if you do purchase this cooking table is to add in the optional tote bag. This makes transporting the cooking table much easier and prevents your clothes from getting dirty if you haven’t cleaned the table one hundred percent.
Cast Iron cookware is one of those things that can be passed down from generation to generation. Cast Irons become seasoned after years of morning breakfasts, hearty dinners, and special holiday treats.
They are super versatile as well. They can be used for cooking in the oven, on the stovetop, or over a grill or an open fire while camping.
The great thing about cooking in Cast Iron is that after every use it gets better and holds onto more stories. Stories you shared with friends and family while enjoying a meal cooked in the Cast Iron. Like that new recipe you tried that didn’t really come out the way it was planned, or when you underestimated the weight of the Cast Iron and it nearly smashed your big toe.
CARE FOR YOUR CAST!