Many people, from amateur home cooks to professional chefs, swear by cast-iron pans for their strong heat, ease of use, and possible flavor-enhancing qualities. You may be long familiar with non-stick and stainless steel cookware but have yet to bite the bullet when it comes to cast-iron. Some cooks might be intimidated by the heavy-duty pan and its maintenance. For one, can you use soap on those things or not? Luckily, we’re here to set the record straight on cast-irons so you can get to dinner.
Fact: You Shouldn’t Cook Acidic Foods on a Cast-Iron Pan for a Long Period of Time
Super acidic foods – think lemon, tomatoes, or wine-based sauces – can simmer in combination with other foods, but don’t leave them in the cast-iron to slow-cook all day long for a Sunday sauce. The acid in foods will break down over the course of cooking, and they run the risk of damaging a less-than-well-seasoned cast iron. That said, a little acid won’t hurt a well-seasoned pan. When in doubt for an all-day cook, go with something ceramic instead.
Myth: Using Soap Will Ruin Your Cast-Iron Pan
You can use soap on a cast-iron pan! We repeat: you can use soap on a cast-iron pan! For a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, a bit of soap isn’t going to hurt it. When cleaning your cast-iron, try to stick to a handful of drops of dish soap at most, and if it’s clear and undyed, the better. Soap may wind up removing some, if not all, of the oil needed to maintain the cast-iron so be sure to re-season it when you’re done.
Fact: Maintaining a Cast-Iron Pan Is Easy
You might not believe us, but keeping your cast-iron clean, functional, and well-seasoned is a lot easier than most people will have you believe. A bit of soap, water, and a soft sponge (do not use steel wool!) will clean your cast-iron like no other. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get food off of it. Once your cast-iron is clean, run a paper towel over it to absorb the excess liquid. Then, get a thin layer of oil – no more than a teaspoon – onto the pan and heat it up on the burner on low for just a few minutes.
Myth: A Cast-Iron Pan Heats Food Evenly
Look, does any pan heat food evenly? Even cooking is often far more reliant on the evenness of your stove, the airflow of your kitchen, and the relative thickness of what you’re cooking. But a cast-iron pan, known and beloved for how hot it can cook food, is not the most reliable pan when it comes to even cooking. Depending on the wear and tear, or the angle it’s sitting on the burner, the cast-iron can get hot spots that get very, very hot. In order to avoid this, preheat your cast-iron in the oven for an all-over heat.
Fact: You Can Cook Eggs in a Cast-Iron Pan in Lieu of a Non-Stick One
If your cast-iron is well-seasoned and well-oiled, you can cook eggs just as well as you can on a non-stick, maybe even a little crispier!
Myth: A Cast-Iron Pan Will Give You More Iron
Nice try, but just because “cast-iron” has the word “iron” in it does not necessarily mean you will get a boost in your iron intake. It’s true that sometimes flecks of the pan get into food cooked in the cast-iron, but this is dependent on the absorptive qualities of what you’re cooking and entirely dependent on the make, model, and age of your pan. It’s too hard to say you that your iron intake will definitely increase using a cast-iron pan, so stick to the supplements for the time being.
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