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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cooking with Cast Iron

Years ago I bought a cast iron frying pan. I think it was a 12 inch'er. It was big. I had to "season" it. It was heavy. Too heavy. I think I used it once then sold it at a yard sale for a pittance. LOL.

Recently I discovered that while my total iron count was normal, I was suffering from a low ferritin level (an iron binding protein that helps your body to safely store iron). The naturopath I turned to for help after my regular doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong with me said mine is the lowest ferritin level she has ever seen. Because of this I've been making a more concerted effort to eat more iron as the lack of it is probably what was, in part, causing the ever worsening fatigue, dizziness and nauseousness I'd been suffering from since last summer.

My friend Dana suggested I get a cast iron pan as cooking in one can safely increase your iron consumption. What? Seriously? I did some poking around online and sure enough, he was right! This time I knew better and got an 8" pan. It's just the right size for making single size servings. The Lodge Logic cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, meaning all you have to do when you buy one is to take off the paper tags and follow a few simple steps.

Rinse the pan with hot water and wipe it dry.

Coat the interior with vegetable oil. I read flax oil is best but spray olive oil is what I had.

Use a piece of paper towel or napkin to spread the oil all over the surface of the pan.

Now you're ready to cook. The first time you use it, heat the pan on the stove top using a low heat. Don't put it on a burner and go straight to high. I was making salmon hash so I turned the burner to medium.

Safety Note: The pan handle will get hot so always use a pot holder when you grasp the handle once you've heated the pan.

After you're done cooking in your cast iron pan or pot here is what you need to know:
  1. Do not use soap to clean the pan as it will un-season the finish.
  2. Do not subject a hot pan to cold water as it can cause the pan to warp or crack.
  3. The best time to clean is immediately after use while the pan is still hot.
  4. Scrub with a non-metal bristle brush and hot or warm water.
  5. If food is "cooked" to the bottom of the pan add water and boil on stove top. This should help release any cooked on food.
  6. Once your pan is clean dry with a dish cloth. Never allow to air dry as this can cause your pan to rust.
  7. Lodge Logic say to re-coat the inside of the pan with a little vegetable oil after each use. Though I read online some people don't and their pans hold up just fine.
  8. If you pan has a lid make sure it is completely dry before placing the lid back on to store. Any moisture inside the pan or on the inside of the lid can promote rust if you cover the pan before it is completely dry.

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