For the longest time I was so intimidated to cook with cast iron. It was a foreign kitchen item that seemed exclusive to Food Network and fancy cooking blogs. I had no idea what seasoning a pan meant and the thought of your pan rusting from improper car frightened me. The more research I did I kept seeing all the benefits that cast iron had to offer. The one that specifically intrigued me was the fact that it was totally chemical free. Now I am far from the epitome of health, but over the past year I have been trying to phase out as many chemicals and toxic products out of my life as I can.
To start my venture into cast iron cooking I made my first purchase – a Lodge 15 in skillet that I found at Tj Maxx (I see Lodge cast iron there a lot) for $19.99. It was a total impulse buy, I’ll be honest. But I had heard great things about Lodge and after hearing Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge Farms (find her on IG or YouTube) raving about the longevity of the Lodge brand, I was sold. After a few solid months of cooking with my 10,000 lb cast iron skillet – I am ready to share why I am a now a loyal fan.
- CHEMICAL FREE
Cast iron is a great alternative to nonstick pans since most contain perfluorocarbons which is a chemical that has been linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage and more. While the risk of these toxins can be low when the Teflon is used properly, I like the idea of eliminating the risk altogether.
When seasoned and stored properly, cast iron can be entirely nonstick! This is great because it can be less overall fat used when cooking your food.
- LASTS FOREVER
Cast iron is virtually indestructible – for real. Dented? No problem. Rusted? No worries. After a good clean and a solid seasoning a cast iron pan or skillet can be good as new. It’s actually pretty common for cast iron pans to be passed down for generations.
- STOVE TO OVEN
This miiiight be my all time favorite thing about cast iron. You can go from the stove directly to the oven, people! I love starting my casserole on the stove top and transferring them to the oven to finish off. The thought of having to use only one pan to do it all is so relieving. I serve food straight out of my skillet, too!
- LESS EXPENSIVE
A set of Teflon or fancy stainless steel pans can run anywhere between $150-$500+ easily. If you scratch a Teflon pan you can kiss part of your pan set right out the window. If you invest in 2-3 pieces of cast iron that cost about $20-$50 your collection will be off to a fantastic start. I have found the best prices for Lodge Cast Iron on Amazon. (God bless you, Amazon.)
- EASY TO CLEAN
Once you get the hang of it, cast iron is super easy to clean – I promise! You don’t have to use any soap, and the leftover bits come right off of the pan if it’s seasoned properly! I bought the Lodge Scrub Brush off of Amazon for $4.56 and it has been a great investment to make cleanup even easier. I like to clean my cast iron as soon as I’m done using it. Cleaning it while it’s still warm will make the food come off easier.
- FOOD TASTES BETTER
Okay, so this one might be all in my head, but I SWEAR the food tastes better.
- HOLDS HEAT WELL
While cast iron isn’t necessarily known for heating evenly, it sure does hold its heat well. I rarely have to turn my stovetop past a 4, even when cooking meat. It doesn’t take long to heat and it will stay hot long past turning your stove off. Just make sure to use an oven mitt or silicone handle cover when handling your cast iron while cooking – the handle gets hot!
I hope this has inspired you to give cast iron a try. You don’t have to dive head first and buy a massive skillet like some people (ahem). The Lodge 8 in skillet is less than $15 and is a great option for cooking eggs, small amount of meat, or sautéing veggies.
TIPS FOR CARE + SEASONING: Don’t be intimidated! Take your time, and spend a few minutes watching a how-to video to make your life easier. I have linked my two favorite cast iron care videos below.
General use and care: http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-care
Seasoning your cast iron: http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/what-is-seasoning
Care, cleaning, and seasoning overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1eJ36lsBbI
COUPON: Save 15% on your Lodge Cast Iron purchase by going to http://www.lodgemfg.com/ and signing up for their mailing list