Cooking with cast iron cookware continues to bring forward the heritage of the pioneers who used it when on the trail to find new homes in the West; the best cookware is made from cast iron and is a collector’s item, especially the earlier makes and types which were often made in specific cities or towns. The best feature about iron cookware is that it allows for cooking at high temperatures without harming the skillets. This style of cookware is best suited for cooking recipes that take longer to cook or require heat over a longer period of time and are versatile when used between the stove top and oven.
The cookware is made in a variety of sizes, from a skillet just right for frying an egg to a large skillet of golden fried chicken. The iron cookware also comes in the perfect sizes for Dutch oven cooking, cornbread pans and larger kettles meant for cooking for a larger number of people. Campers have used iron cookware for some of the best meals from beef stew to Dutch oven apple pie. Some of the manufacturers of these cookware are located outside the United States, so be certain to examine this carefully and choose that made by a reputable company.
Caring for the iron cookware is not as difficult as it may first seem, but it does take time to do properly. After you purchase or receive the cookware, wipe it off with a dry paper towel and then add a thin layer of vegetable oil, Crisco works great. Put the cookware in a warm to medium oven, no higher then 350 degrees F; then let it sit there for about 20 minutes before turning the oven off. Leave the pans in the oven until they cool down completely, then wipe with a paper towel. The reason for leaving the vegetable oil on the cast iron cookware and leaving it there is that the heat allows the vegetable oil to work into the surface of them, giving it a protective coating. This coating is essential for the pans and skillets as it allows food to be cooked without sticking for the pans to be cleaned easier.
Cooking with cast iron cookware means also that the cleaning process is easy to do, just be sure you use hot water to clean the cookware with as it removes residue and grease easily. Usually hard scrubbing is not necessary for good cleaning. Scrubbing will remove the protective seasoning coating of vegetable oil and you will have to re apply and heat the cookware again before using it. It is important to dry it properly, the best way to dry this cookware is to dry it on the stove, with a burner on medium to high heat, which allows it to dry fast and leaves the little if any water residue which could cause the cast iron to develop rust spots. If it does, then the integrity and stregnth of the cookware is harmed.