February 22, 2020
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Mainers love their cookware — especially cast iron

Sarah Walker Caron | BDN
Sarah Walker Caron | BDN
Making frittatas in cast iron makes good use of its ability to go from the stovetop to the oven.

When I shared my decision to start replacing my worn-out skillets with durable cast iron last week, I didn’t realize how my cookware would resonate with readers. But it did.

One reader called to let me know that I should have mentioned to be careful with cast iron on glass top stoves. Her stovetop was scratched by cast iron. I haven’t cooked on a glass top in a while, so it didn’t occur to me to mention it — but now I have, so there you go.

Other readers emailed me to tell me about their favorite skillets and cookware too. Some have had their cookware sets for decades and report that they are still looking great. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore, do they?

In the comments on my column on the BDN site, I really enjoyed the discussion that popped up around cast iron.

“I love my cast iron — two big skillets, one really big skillet, a two burner griddle. Most of the time I skip washing them at all. When I lift an omelet or pizza out of a skillet, there’s a little grease left behind, and I give that a wipe with a paper towel and call it good. I scrape the griddle, but only wash it when there’s a bit of build-up, once a year maybe. But I hate subjecting my cast iron to watery things: soups, tomato sauce. That’s where the old Presto pressure cooker comes in,” Akarobertkilpatrick wrote in a comment.

I am also avoiding any watery or acidic foods like soups and tomato sauce in mine. That’s what I have the ceramic coated cast iron for, and some of my trusty stainless steel too.

And while I can’t quite wrap my head around not washing a pan at all, some readers told me that’s precisely what they do.

“I’ve got one sitting on my stove. I just cooked an omelet for my wife the other day and there was absolutely no sticking to the pan. I find that a small hand scrub brush works super to clean it under hot water. Dry with paper towel and a quick coat of Crisco with heat does the trick,” wrote Patom1.

I’m using grapeseed oil for seasoning at present — I’ve read several times over the years that it’s a good oil for seasoning and so far, so good.

Meanwhile, other readers put in a good word for antiqued or thrifted cast iron (keep your eyes peeled).

“Best frypan I own is a cast iron with Taiwan stamped on it that I bought in an antique store in Sabattus for under $10. Just gets better the more you use it. I’ve got others I’ve had for years, including an old Sidney one that’s probably 100 years old, but the bottom has a dimple so it’s not good on my glass top range. Works good on the wood stove though and my old coil range before I moved. I never use soap. I just soak in hot water and scrub with a plastic scrubber if needed. Dry them good and coat them with oil or lard if [they] look scorched,” wrote Mdyer 909.

What I really loved was how readers reached out to help each other with cast iron quandaries. When one reader complained that they’d tried a new one, but found it wasn’t made well — the bottom wasn’t flat — others chimed in with advice.

“More advice: Some/most of the new iron pans aren’t cast that well so the bottom of the pan is machined to be flat. While seasoning the pan does provide the bulk of the non-stick surface, one can greatly improve the non-stick properties of the pan by sanding that bottom flat. This is easy to do. Before seasoning it the first time put a little water in the pan and using some sandpaper rub out the little machining ridges. I start with 100 grit and work up to 320 grit. Then after a wash I season the pan as one normally would. The older cast iron pans were, of course, sold with smooth bottoms. Not so with some of the inexpensive new cast iron.,” wrote Watchdog1.

I bet that would also work for the caller whose cast iron scratched her glass top stove.

 


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