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Cultivate Simple 35: Cast Iron Cooking

June 24th, 2013

Today on Cultivate Simple we’re talking about all things cast iron.
bread in cast iron cocotte
cast iron
cleaning cast iron
pie in cast iron

Brands to Buy:
Staub enameled cast iron, I especially like Staub Round Cast Iron Cocotte
Lodge Cast Iron

What I use to clean my cast iron:

I use Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions, see my post about it.

Books of the Week:

MOFGA newspaper

31 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 35: Cast Iron Cooking”
  1. Jessica on June 24, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Yay! I have eagerly awaited this one. :-)

    Reply to Jessica's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on June 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Yeah, I have been waiting for this one too. I have two main skillets that I use for most all my top of the stove cooking. I haven’t tried baking in cast iron yet. I’ve yet to figure out how to fry eggs with out sticking in cast iron. I keep scouring the goodwill stores in my area to find cast iron. I’ve found some nice pieces and relatives that don’t want to cook in cast iron always come my way. Some pieces need a little TLC but can be brought back to full use. They just never wear out. Nice.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. Henry Bush on June 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I agree that the old cast iron pans are far superior to modern Lodge. The castings are much higher quality, and have smoother finishes and are often lighter and thinner yielding better cooking results. Cast Iron is certainly one of my obsessions. We cook almost exclusively on castiron with a few stainless sauce pans and soup pots.

    My favorite pieces are a large flat griddle that spans two burners (great for pancakes etc), A chicken frier ( a deep #8 with a self basting lid great for pot roasts etc), a round flat griddle (we use it almost everyday for eggs), and finally Griswold waffle iron (perfect for sunday morning waffle breakfast).

    The other great thing about cast iron is that it can go from the stove top right into the oven.

    I used to be very concerned about maintaining my seasoning, however I have relaxed much more about that. We often cook pot roast and stews in our cast iron which completly strips the seasoning off the pan. The best way that I have found to season a pan is to cook some bacon in it or to drop some butter in the pan and fry a couple eggs. This is another way that the older pans are much better, they have a very smooth cooking surface.

    Thanks for this discussion I enjoyed it very much.
    Henry Bush´s last post ..I spy

    Reply to Henry Bush's comment

  4. Maybelline on June 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I love cast iron. I should be an essential in all kitchens.
    My favorite new recipe that I concocked out of necessity is:
    Carmel Apple Crisp
    I make it in a skillet and bake it on the BBQ.
    Maybelline´s last post ..Kitchen Scale

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Susy on June 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

      MMMM, sounds wonderful. Mr Chiots would LOVE it as he’s a fan of anything containing apple!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Rachel on June 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    The cast iron skillet and lid I use was given to me by my husband’s grandparents. I LOVE using it. When my slow cooker broke a couple of years ago I began using it to cook beef roasts and whole chickens in the oven. I simply add some water and herbs, cover and roast at 350 for a few hours. The flavor is amazing, and I haven’t missed the slow cooker.
    Rachel´s last post ..potato progression

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  6. DebbieB on June 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Hooray! Thanks for this – I love all the detailed how-to, for cooking and seasoning and cleaning. I’ve just sent off an email to my Mom asking if she’s got any cast iron that she’s no longer using. I know she used to use it years ago, but doesn’t cook much anymore. Fingers crossed that she’ll have a few gems hiding in her kitchen. If not, I plan to get a basic skillet and start using it regularly. I’ve got the Tropical Traditions page open now to order coconut oil, even before getting the cast iron, so I can start cooking with it right away.

    Brian, I’ve seen those little flakes of non-stick “stuff” when a pan gets scratched, and as soon as I see them, I toss out the pan. But YUCK – who wants even tiny particles of that stuff in their food?
    DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • DebbieB on June 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Well, my mom didn’t have any, but I found some on Craiglist. Fingers crossed that they’ll be in good shape when I go look at them (the pictures do look pretty good – no visible rust, though I’ll have to give them a good scrubbing, of course).
      DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

      Reply to DebbieB's comment

      • DebbieB on July 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        The Craigslist person flaked out on me and isn’t responsive via email, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll continue to keep a sharp eye out for used cast iron in garage sales, but for now, I’ve ordered a Lodge dutch oven with lid that’s supposed to double as a skillet…
        DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

        to DebbieB's comment

  7. Elyse on June 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hooray – so much good information here! I have a large Lodge cast iron skillet we’ve been using for a few years, and an 8″ Lodge skillet I recently found at Goodwill for $1.99. It was covered in rust and glitter (what?!), but some scrubbing got it clean – and now I guess I just need to cook with a bunch of coconut oil to season it – easy!

    Reply to Elyse's comment

  8. DebbieB on June 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Anyone reading this today (Monday June 24): Tropical Traditions has a free-shipping coupon for ground shipping that expires today, for purchases above $16. I completed my order for coconut oil, THEN noticed the coupon (duh), so I cancelled and started again. It saved me nearly $13.
    DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on June 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks Debbie. Liking them on facebook will keep you posted on their specials.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • DebbieB on June 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm

        Alas, I am one of those hold-outs who doesn’t use Facebook! I did sign up for their email, though.
        DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

        to DebbieB's comment

  9. Lemongrass on June 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I use a loofah and a bit of Dr Bronner lavander soap to clean mine pots. I use it for baking everything, especially corn bread. And steaming my veggies on top of the stove.
    Like Debbie B, I need to find out what happened to those my mom had.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  10. Sam on June 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Susy, I have one question that you didn’t address. What kind of cooking utensils do you use with your cast iron? I’ve heard it said that metal can gouge the seasoning, etc. and you should only use plastic or wood. Well, I don’t feel particularly comfortable with plastic, and wood is clunky for turning. Any thoughts?

    Reply to Sam's comment

    • Susy on June 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Great question, I use metal for the most part in my skillets, a nice flexible metal spatula. In my enameled cast iron I only use wooden utensils. I don’t use plastic because the cast iron will melt them, and I try not to let plastic come into contact with my food.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. amy on June 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I could not help myself when you started to talk about toast I thought immediately of this video…..yes it is weird….but oddly addictive…..and funny! My husband and young son love this guy….maybe you will too or think we are completely odd…I will chance it…here’s the link:)

    Reply to amy's comment

  12. Amy S on June 27, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I do have an old cast iron skillet from my husband’s grandmother. Will have to look and see what brand it is. My question is this…I have not used one yet as we have a glass top electric stove. I am taking monthly classes from a woman and noticed she was using one on hers. I currently use Saladmaster cookware but would like to venture out and get a few pieces you mentioned.

    Reply to Amy S's comment

    • Susy on June 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

      I know people who use cast iron on their glass top stoves all the time. Here’s a question about it on this website, read through the comments. http://www.thekitchn.com/-good-questions-357-163859

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Amy S on June 28, 2013 at 12:09 am

        thanks for the link. I read through all the responses and lots of opinions. I’ve had our kenmore for 7 years and do love it. I will use the cast iron on it. My other question is I have heard people saying you cannot use a pressure canner on a cooktop like mine. Any input on this? My girlfriend bought a used gas stove to keep in their garage in order to use for canning as they too have a glass cooktop.

        to Amy S's comment

      • Susy on June 28, 2013 at 7:01 am

        I have heard about not using a pressure canner on a glass top stove. My mom used our old Coleman camp stove on a picnic table in the back. You could also get one of those turkey fryer burners for canning. I’m not sure I would risk pressure canning as it uses a good deal of heat for a long time.

        to Susy's comment

  13. kathie on June 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I use my cast iron on my glasstop stove and they work perfectly :)

    Occasionally, when I season my pans- it does not matter if I use lard, oil or shortening, after I have let them “bake” in the oven, they come out slightky sticky. What could I be doing be doing wrong? My oven is set at 325, I bake for 5 hours and then turn the oven off and let them sit overnight.. please help!

    Reply to kathie's comment

    • Susy on June 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Use less fat and heat to a higher temp for seasoning.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • kathie on June 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

        Thanks! Should I wash and re-season?

        to kathie's comment

      • Susy on June 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

        I’d probably try to wash off the stickiness. You can also try seasoning by cooking. Try frying something in coconut oil, lard, or tallow. I find this builds up the best seasoning in my pans.

        to Susy's comment

  14. Amy P on June 27, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Bonfires!!!

    I had some cast iron pans that were awful, they were covered in nastiness, smelled like mildew, and were rusty. I tried cleaning them and finally gave up. Then one day I threw them in a bonfire. They came out great. it was messy cleaning them up but it stripped of all the nastiness and I could use the hose outside to get the worst of it off.

    I’ll be picking up castille soap and those scrubbers you mentioned and see if I can get them even better.

    Thanks for this, I’ll be watching for your eBook :)

    Reply to Amy P's comment

  15. Carrie on July 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    While I would be interested in an e-book about cast iron, I would be even MORE interested in a RECIPE book for cast iron pieces! All the stuff you mentioned sounded wonderful, but being new to cast iron, baking cakes or muffins in my skillet is very intimidating. :) Thanks for a very informative podcast!

    Reply to Carrie's comment

    • DebbieB on July 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      I second this suggestion enthusiastically!
      DebbieB´s last post ..Retreat Spinning

      Reply to DebbieB's comment

  16. KimP on August 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    One more question: When you’re baking bread items (muffins, cornbread type), do you heat the pan with the fat before you put the dough in? Or do you put the dough in the cold pan? Cast-iron cooking isn’t something I grew up with so I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with the whole process. One meal at a time, I’m getting there. :)

    Thanks for this podcast!

    Reply to KimP's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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