Wednesday, 5 October 2011
A Well Seasoned Pan
Ahh.... cast iron ~ either you love it or you hate it. I'm in the love it club, but only once it's seasoned well. If you haven't tried cooking with cast iron, I encourage you to give it a go - once you get the hang of it its really easy. The trick is to use a little fat to cook in and allow it to heat up slowly. Be patient and don't try to cook your food right after turning on the burner. Start cooking your food only once the pan is at the correct temperature (when the butter is foaming). A little moisture helps, too - for instance, when frying over easy eggs, I often add just a little water before flipping.
I actually leave this stack of cast iron frypans on the back of my stovetop which might drive the average person crazy, but not me! I use those pans every day, so having them at my fingertips makes cooking that much easier. I can easily grab a pan and get cooking without bending over to haul them out of cupboards (cast iron is heavy!). I view my kitchen as a working one, not a showpiece, so leaving things out that I use every day doesn't bother me in the slightest :)
A well seasoned cast iron pan looks a bit glossy and should resemble patent leather. The secret to building this up on a pan is to NOT scrub it off with soap! If my pan is only slightly dirty, I'll just wipe it out ~ that's all it needs. When it's truly dirty, I soak it in warm water for a while and scrub it out easily with a brush. Drying it is key! Leaving a cast iron pan wet will lead to rusting and that is NOT good for the finish. After I've used water to clean a cast iron pan, I give it a very light rub with a bit of fat/oil to keep the patina glossy.
These muffin tins were a wedding shower gift 22 years ago from my Grandmother (along with her recipe for Yorkshire Pudding). They are seasoned nicely (blackened) and as a result, have a natural non-stick surface. All those years of of baking yorkshire puddings in them have done the trick nicely. I do still oil them lightly before cooking in them, but they are fantastic - food just pops right out.
I'd much rather have an old seasoned pan than a new one. In fact, the two small cast iron pans pictured above were bought second hand at our local thrift shop for less than $5.00 for the both of them. A great score as they are worth much more to me pre-seasoned than in new condition.
If you don't already cook in cast iron, have a look at your local goodwill/second hand shops to see if you can source some nice seasoned cast iron - you'll be glad you did!