Weâ€™ve gotten a lot of hand me downs from the family basement over the years - furniture, lamps, art, an espresso maker - but our hands down favorite is the cast iron pan. Itâ€™s likely that thereâ€™s one lying around in your familyâ€™s basement or just waiting to be picked up at a stoop sale or online. For a very low price, youâ€™ll have a pan thatâ€™s strong, durable, has excellent heat retention, and with the right care, a non-stick surface.
The trick with cast iron cookware is the seasoning process. If you are buying new cast iron products, they are often pre-seasoned, and just need to be maintained as you use them, but that gem you find in the basement may very well be rusty, so you will need to give it a hard core scrubbing with steel wool to get started. Once it is clean and dry, give it a very light coating inside and out of vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, or lard if youâ€™ve got it. Place it in a 300 degree oven for an hour upside down with a baking sheet or foil underneath to catch any drippings. Let it cool before use.
To wash your seasoned pan after using, just use a brush and hot water; never use soap. If food gets stuck on, boil some water in it, let it sit for a bit, and try again with the brush. You can also use a paste of kosher salt and oil as an abrasive. After rinsing, place it on the stove on medium heat and spread a thin film of vegetable oil on the surface of the pan with a paper towel (wad it up so you donâ€™t burn yourself), let it heat up for a minute or two, then turn of the heat and let the pan cool on the burner. When completely cool, wipe off any excess oil before storing. With proper care, youâ€™ll be able to pass on your cast iron pan to your grandchildren, because everyone needs iron in their diet!
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