People have been cooking with cast iron for hundreds of years. With good reason.
It's naturally non-stick, highly durable, retains heat (always coast on waste heat) and gets better with age. You can use it for high-heat cooking, like searing, or for mid-range heat, like sautéing. It can also be safely used in the oven. And it's free of toxic chemicals like PFOA and PTFE that coat many non-stick frying pans.
Sure, there are other 'green' pans on the market, but for me cast iron wins because I can use it to scramble eggs, fry pancakes, sustainable fish, or beans, sauté Swiss chard, or even bake crème caramel! And it's super low-maintenance.
How to season cast iron
Season your pan with a rich fat like animal grease. Don't eat animals? That's fine—use coconut oil. Coat the inside of your pan with the fat of your choice. Bake it for about 2 hours at 120C (250F), wiping off any excess and cool. See this handy cooking oils comparison chart to learn the difference between every variety of fat, from olive oil to lard.
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How to clean cast iron
Never, ever wash cash iron with soap!
This will remove all your seasoning and food will stick. Instead, simply wipe clean or, scour with hot water and coarse salt for messy jobs. Dry it well to prevent rust.
So dig out Grandma's cast iron, check out a neighbourhood garage sale, or visit your local thrift store! Buying new is okay, too, 'cause you'll pass it onto your grandkids. Check out kitchen, hardware, or camping gear stores. Note: cast iron pans come in a variety of sizes from the smallest—for frying a single, happy chicken egg —to large (and heavy) "feed-a- family-of-10" size.
Which nontoxic cookware options do you prefer?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green