Cast Iron vs. Non-Stick – The Battle for Ultimate Kitchen Health

by wilbus on October 15, 2010

Chefs big and small,

I tend to use things that work and work hard. One thing I hate is light-weight or plastic kitchen tools.

With that sentiment I was both pleased and annoyed to read a report that the Environmental Protection Agency recently released on Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Florinated Telomers, two chemicals found in non-stick cookware. The EPA says that Teflon and other chemicals commonly found in non-stick pots and pans are not good for you. They cause developmental defects and can potentially cause cancer. A big fuck you to the companies that make these terrible poisonous products. My previous landlord worked for a company that helped develop Teflon and find practical applications for it. One of these practical applications was in cookware. He said that knowing what he knows about Teflon and the other chemicals they put into their non-stick compounds he would NEVER use the stuff.

Only recently have all us idiots forgotten how to care for quality tools and gone instead for the cheap, easy, potentially poisonous, and poorly make kitchen tools. Time to get reacquainted with one of the best friends you’ll ever have in your kitchen.

CAST IRON

Cast Iron pots and pans are more versatile and perform better than non-stick pots and pans as long as you know how to treat them. It’s not complicated to season and take good care of your cast iron cookware, and when you learn how you’ll be so pleased because a) you are inherently lazy and b) they are so easy to clean it’€™s a joke.

How to Season your cast iron skillet

Unless your cast iron is brand new you probably need to re-season it. If there is any sign of rust or if food sticks to your pan, seasoning it will bring it back to its non-stick-like glory days. Here€™s how you do it.

1) Rub the inside of the pan with oil. Use an oil or fat that withstands high heat, Canola oil works fine and I also like using coconut oil which I’m obsessed with. It is awesome for frying fish, cooking potatoes, anything that you would use oil for, except salad dressings. It comes as a solid which might freak some people out but I promise you’ll love Coconut oil. It rubs the oil on the pan, then

Coconut Oil
Nutiva makes my favorite coconut oil at the moment.

2) It places the pan UPSIDE DOWN on a baking sheet.

3) Bake the pan in the oven somewhere between 350 degrees and 500 degrees. The oven will smoke a bit, don’t worry as that is normal. Bake the skillet for an hour and a half and then turn the oven off and using oven mitts (that thing will be HOT!) turn the skillet right side up. Leave it in the oven to cool slowly.

4) Your skillet is now seasoned! You will need to do this a few times over the life of your skillet, I bet it looks super fly now!

How to care for your cast iron skillet

1) If possible do not wash your cast iron with soap, just use water and a sponge and rub it out. Using soap will slowly remove the oil that is imbedded in your skillet.

2) Do not leave your skillet sitting in water. Also, if you put a hot skillet into cold water your seasoned skillet will quickly lose the oil that makes it non-stick-like. Let it slowly cool down.

3) Continue to cook and bake in your cast iron (Yes, you can use it in the oven to bake with!) using your favorite oil and it should stay seasoned. If one of your house guests ends up washing it with soap just re-season it. Small price to pay for not exposing yourself to the cancerous chemicals in non-stick Teflon cookware.

Where to get a great cast iron skillet

Le Crueset makes the most baller cast iron skillets. They are expensive and awesome and really beautiful.

Le Crueset Skillet
The Le Crueset Skillet is top of the line.

Lodge is the standard cast iron that is cheap and durable. Not quite as easy to season as the Le Crueset, but still a great pan.

Lodge Skillet
The Lodge Skillet is a less expensive choice.

There are so many different styles too! Have a great time cooking! Willy.

EPA report on PFOA and Teflon – http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pfoa/

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Terry November 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I own several cast iron fry pans and 2 dutch ovens, along with several safe non-stick pots and pans made by GreenPan. I love them all. I did a lot of research and testing before venturing beyond my cast iron, and the new safe non-sticks definitely have their place in my kitchen. There are many GreenPan knock-offs out there, so be sure to get the original ones made in Belgium called “GreenPan”. They have a super slick, durable non-stick ceramic coating and transfer heat as well as my cast iron pans. They’re a great addition and I highly recommend them. I also will love my cast iron forever!!

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Hannibal Lecter January 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm

It rubs the oil on its skin or else it gets the hose again!

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