Cast Iron Cookware

How to clean and season cast iron cookware

Cast iron pots and pans are versatile cookware that can be used on the stove top, in the oven, on the grill and even when camping to cook over an open fire.

Cast iron cookware has been in use for centuries. Prized for its durability and heat retention, cast iron cookware was first used over open hearth fires. Original designs included cauldrons with legs that allowed a fire to burn from below and pots and pans with handles that allowed them to be suspended over the wood fire inside of fireplaces.

The industrial revolution brought us both the kitchen stove and the ability to produce iron products in large quantities at reasonable prices. With a flat cooking surface, a flat bottom pot and pan became more useful. Cast iron cookware was the staple in American homes and a great variety of specialized designs became popular.

Teflon coated cookware became popular in the 1960's and 1970's, but by the 1980's it was discovered that overheating these surfaces put toxic perfluorocarbon fumes (PFC's) in the air as well as in your food. (I first became aware of this when we had pet parrots, and promptly discarded mine. If the fumes could kill a bird, what could they be doing to my family?) I still own and use cast iron cookware I bought 30+ years ago, as well as some prized pans from my grandparents. Like professional chefs, I find them the very best tool in my kitchen. If you are a fan of cooking shows then you've no doubt heard the benefits of cooking with cast iron praised countless times.

When cooking with cast iron, some amount of iron does generally leach into the food. This is a health benefit to people with anemia and iron deficiencies.