How to Effectively Use and Take Care of Cast Iron Cookware
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Using cast iron cookware can be somewhat of a daunting task for beginner cooks or food photographers- they’re heavy, hard to clean, and are used differently than regular cookware, so people tend to stay away from using them. However, there are many benefits to using cast iron cookware that far outweigh the cons. When using cast iron pots and pans, there are only a few cons: they are heavy, and they require special cleaning. Despite these, using cast iron cookware has many more benefits.
They are versatile. Cast iron cookware can be used on any cooking platform, whether it be on the regular stovetop, the grill, or even on a campfire. During the summer months, I love to cook and shoot recipes on the grill on our back porch. When grilling, you can sometimes be limited to larger pieces of food that won't fall through the grills, which is what I use cast iron for. I can place an entire cast iron skillet inside the grill and cook anything on it much like I would on a regular stove, and still have the ease and taste of grilled food. Using cast iron while camping is a great way to cook food on a campfire, as campfires tend to have a lot more intense, but sporadic, heat compared to a constant heat on a stove. Since cast iron retains heat much better than regular cookware, this makes it perfect for camp meals cooked over a fire.
They are durable. Cast iron cookware, being made out of far harder materials than regular cookware, don’t get scratched or show wear. This is perfect as a photographer, as you don’t have to worry about wear and tear showing up on the camera, like you would with stainless steel pots and pans. Due to this, cast iron cookware also has an extremely long lifespan, so you can expect to have them for a while and get lots of use from them.
Are easier to clean than expected. Cast iron is cleaned differently from regular cookware, in which you would normally use a sponge or brush with soap. Cast iron cookware is as easy as using just warm water and a brush, and food and residue comes off very easy. When cleaning, however, make sure to not leave water on the cookware for too long, or else you risk having the iron rust.
Some cast iron is enameled, which is a special coating that prevents the cast iron from rusting or losing it’s seasoning, but still retains heat and cooks like regular cast iron. Enameled cast iron is cleaned differently from regular cast iron, you just need to mix 2 spoons of baking soda with boiling water, and stirring until the pot is cleaned. After that, you can use a normal sponge to clean the rest of the pot.
These are just a few reasons why I use cast iron cookware, but I’ve found that they are perfect for the food photographer. For various meals such as chili or soup, I love to use an enameled dutch oven. The cast iron dutch oven holds heat very well, so it’s perfect for soups and foods that need to simmer for a long time.