Thursday, November 29, 2012

Appreciation & learning about cast iron

I've used cast iron pans before, but the past year, my appreciation and education for them has grown. Yes, they do hold heat better, cooks food nicely too. Seasoning a cast iron pan feels like a constant, learning experience.

Use bacon grease, don't use bacon, reason for this and that kind of oil... everyone's got an opinion. Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning by Sheryl was a blog I found recently, good reference. So excited to season some new pans a friend brought for me, I forgot to check the smoke point of Flaxseed Oil (225F) before blasting my oven up to 500F (live and learn). Smoke my apartment up and out of fear/manners, left a note to my upstairs neighbor apologizing if the smoke smell got up there. Note: Follow that step about really wiping the excess oil out between coatings, it does make a difference in drying/hardening the coats while baking. 

The 3rd paragraph in Sheryl's Blog, "Seasoning Is Not Cooking...", talks about free radicals and carcinogens. I never put heavy thought into carcinogens, free radicals in cooking, but was happy to find this post, Cast Iron Seasoning and Carcinogens; reinforced some of my own thoughts. Some worry about all the potential stuff in cast iron pans, but don't think twice about the grill marks on the barbecued/grilled foods. My feeling, be mindful of how you cook, prepare and treat your food, but don't get buck wild paranoid on everything.

Something To make one paranoid about, a crack in the cast iron pan. Didn't notice this crack until the 1st coating, argh! Can the pan still be used? One celeb chef I asked on twitter flat out said, "No", don't use the pan. Mom says go get a new one instead a worrying with people old, stuff; buy one without a crack. Still seasoning it and hoping after the 6th coating of oil, that will seal it up. The crack is just on the surface, no signs it's cracked through to the base.

Went looking for info on crack in cast iron, found this interesting video, which at least gives a way of testing for cracks in cast iron, before the impulse buy at say, flea markets.

Since I've been cooking in the cast iron pan, my appreciation for them has grown. From stove to oven, to camping if need be... care the cast iron pans and you will have em' for generations.

Now this is why families fought over who got the old cast irons :).

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I do read them and take note. If theres any question you feel to ask, go further into, or even have a resource that you think would help, let me know :)