The cast iron skillet has been overlooked for decades due to the shiny flashy new designs of modern day cookware, but don’t give up on this rustic classic because there is magic within. Cooking in a cast iron skillet can add significant amounts of iron to your food and into your body. In addition to eating more iron-rich foods like meats, beans, and spinach, cooking in a cast iron pan is an easy way to boost your iron intake. Iron is an essential nutrient for all the cells in our body. Those practicing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle must watch their iron levels closely as do those that suffer from an iron deficiency.
Switching to cast iron will provide a clean and safe start to your cooking process. Plastics and non-stick Teflon can leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into your food. That is no good, especially when you just put effort into cooking a nice meal. The better choice would be to swap out the flashy Teflon cookware for the less expensive cast iron version.
For this tip and more, check out the chapter on reducing your toxic load in my book, Self-Care Is The New Health-Care.
How to Care for Your New Cast Iron
First remove the label of your new cookware and wash thoroughly in hot soapy water, then hand dry immediately.
It is important to seal the surface of your new cast iron through a process called “seasoning”. This makes the cookware less likely to stick and protects it from corrosion and rust. With proper care, a well-seasoned pan will only get better with time. Using a cloth or towel, grease the pan with oil. I prefer to use olive oil for greasing, but you can use any vegetable oil you prefer. Be sure to coat the entire surface, including corners. Place the pan in an oven pre-heated to 300 degrees F for one hour. Remove the pan and allow it to cool down to room temperature. Wipe away any excess oil, being careful not to scrub clean. Now it is ready for cooking.
Cast iron should never be placed inside the dishwasher or scrubbed with steel wool. Instead, wipe the pan clean with a sponge or dishcloth in hot water without detergent. Any residue may be removed by boiling a little salt and vinegar in the pan, or by rubbing with a paper towel and coarse salt.
With added use and seasoning, your cast iron skillet will provide a nice cooking experience with the health benefit of added iron absorption.