100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 5 – Cast Iron Cooking

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isolated-dish-food-cooking-produce-vegetable-1098415-pxhere.com.jpgThese days, modern kitchens are crammed with high-tech gadgets and convenient appliances. In a modern kitchen, cast iron cookware might feel out of place.  However, in the homestead, it is almost a necessity.

Not only is it inexpensive, which makes it easy on the budget, but it is multi-purpose, and can last several lifetimes.

Some folks might be intimidated by cooking or cleaning cast iron but it is actually not as difficult as one might think. In fact, a well-seasoned skillet is easier to clean than most modern cookware.

If you are considering cast iron I have five tips for making your choice to cook with cast iron even easier:

  1. Seasoning – Most modern cast iron comes “pre-seasoned” However, many cast iron enthusiasts prefer to season it again anyway. This will be the first and only time you will ever use soap on your skillet. Preheat the oven to 325, wash and dry the skillet, slather it in a very thin coat of oil or shortening, then place the skillet in the oven for a few hours. Allow it to completely cool before you use it for the first time. The oil fills the pores of the skillet, preventing bacteria from getting in and spoiling your food. Once this step is done you might season it occasionally whenever you notice the pan is getting sticky.
  2. Cooking – Always preheat your skillet before cooking. Cook over low heat to prevent cracking the iron and melt your oil, butter, or lard first before adding your food. Never use metal utensils on iron cookware.
  3. Cleaning – Cleaning is easier than you might think. If you have stubborn bits of food, use 1 cup of course salt in a warm, not hot, skillet. Fold a cloth and scour the skillet with the salt. Rinse the skillet in hot water. Allow it to cool. Never use soap and water to wash your skillet after you have seasoned it. Instead, use hot water and wipe the skillet with a clean cloth. Recoat the skillet with a thin layer of oil (olive oil works well).
  4. Dealing with Rust – Rust happens sometimes in cast iron. Often when it has been stored in damp conditions. If this occurs, cover it in salt, then scrape it away with a half of a potato. Then reseason it (without the soap and water step).
  5. Storing – Cast iron should be stored in a dry place. When stacking multiple skillets, place towels between them to prevent moisture build-up.

“We’ve also used them to cook on top of our woodstove.”

That’s all there is to it! Cast iron is not nearly as scary as many may have led you to believe, is it?

We use cast iron skillets and dutch ovens in our home for frying, stir-fries, baking, and roasting. We’ve made whole roasted chickens and pot roasts in them. We’ve also made pies, cornbread, cakes, sourdough bread and more. They really serve so many culinary purposes.

When we had an issue with our gas and had to wait two days for a repair, we camped on our acreage and used them to cook in our firepit. We’ve also used them to cook on top of our woodstove.

 

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Not only can they be used in many different ways but they also last as long as you care for them. We know people who own cast iron pieces that go back for generations in their family.

If you are thinking of purchasing cast iron, take a look at Lodge, they’ve been making cast iron since 1896 and are a favorite brand among enthusiasts.

You can also find affordable cast iron at yard sales, flea markets, antique stores, and estate sales. Have fun finding your perfect piece of cookware and enjoy cooking many years of wholesome meals.

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