Cooking with non-stick pans sure makes our lives (and cleanup) easier, doesn’t it?
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) A.K.A. “Teflon” has been proven to be dangerous to our health, and the health of ours pets. In fact, when Teflon-coated cookware is heated to above 350 degrees, it releases a by-product called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which can cause polymer fume fever in humans and can be lethal to birds.
A few years ago, my husband and I were looking at buying a cast iron Dutch oven to take with us on camping trips. In addition, we also bought a cast iron frying pan.
I had done my research on cast iron, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t cook eggs or fish in it because the food ALWAYS stuck to the bottom. Obviously, I hadn’t done enough research. I eventually gave up cooking with either one because of this and went back to my non-stick pans.
One of the reasons I wanted to cook with cast iron is because of the health benefits. Did you know you can build muscles by lugging those heavy things around?
But seriously, cooking with cast iron is great for people who need more iron in their diet. Sounds kinda gross, right? The iron is actually absorbed into the food you cook and can help increase the iron levels in your body.
So there I was, with these two useful items, and I hated cooking with them because everything stuck to the bottom. I had assumed (you know what “assuming” does, right?) that the more I cooked with it, the more seasoned both would become. Foiled again.
One day, recently, I cooked myself some eggs. I was reminded of the book I was reading at the time (The Denim Diet by Kami Gray) of how unhealthy it was to use non-stick pans. Sure enough, the eggs stuck, and my idea for an omelet was destroyed. There had to be a way to do this properly. We always washed and seasoned our pan before putting it away, this didn’t make any sense.
Google is my best friend, professionally and personally. In fact, I tell the kids to Google everything they ask me!
I googled how to prevent food from sticking to cast iron cookware, saw a video and tried the method the next day. Wow, no wonder it was always sticking, I had been doing it completely wrong. Duh!
Here’s the secret to making cast iron non-stick:
- Start with clean, dry, unoiled cookware. It should be room temperature or “cold”.
- Set the stove on medium-high heat, and place the cookware on the burner.
- Let the cookware heat up and let it remain on the burner for 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the cookware and spread it evenly around the inside of the cookware. It should be shiny (and hot, so don’t burn yourself!) but there should be no little puddles of oil.
- Return the cookware to the hot burner, and add a small pat of butter. Let the butter melt, and cook your food immediately.
I really had my doubts as to whether this would work. I was truly expecting scrambled eggs again, and to have to chisel over-cooked egg from the bottom.
It was as if I was cooking with my non-stick pan!
I’m completely sold on this method, and I know my fellow campers (if you haven’t already been enlightened) will sincerely appreciate this. It’s truly a game-changer and I think I can now safely get rid of my non-stick pans.
What do you like to cook in cast iron?