Cookware for Everyday Use and Preparedness
In my opinion, Cast Iron Cookware is a fantastic way to prepare meals everyday and have solid, heavy-duty cookware that is capable of being used in various cooking enivornments. It makes superb camping and preparedness cookware because of its durability, its ability to be used over numerous heating sources and the fact that you can clean it in various ways. Furthermore, I could be wrong ,but meals made in Cast Iron just seem to taste better. I don't know if that is just my wishful thinking, if it is the type of meals I like to cook in Cast Iron or if the even cooking temperature reflects better in the food.
When people think of Cast Iron they often think about a large cauldron type cooking pot with lid for camping or for large jobs. However, Cast Iron isn't just for Camping! Cast Iron Cookware is an incredibly versatile type of cookware. Cast Iron comes in a myriad of different cookware types, including camp dutch ovens, stove dutch ovens, skillets, griddles, cornbread pans, decorative pans, combo cookers, frying pans, pizza pans, biscuit pans, muffin pans, Aebleskiver pans, woks, presses, grill pans and more. Cast Iron is often referred to as the original non-stick cookware. When seasoned properly and used correctly, cast iron provides a great cooking surface.
One complaint often heard in relation to Cast Iron is that it is heavy. That may be true, but the heavy duty construction is what makes this cookware truly singular. Cast Iron has a nice heating surface, is rugged and strong, and is designed for years and years of use. Many of us don't trust teflon and aluminum pans, and so stainless steel and Cast Iron make great options.
Some folks worry about the care and washing of Cast Iron. I actually find it refreshing to take care of Cast Iron. I feel that if I take care of my Cast Iron, it will take care of me! You will get many different opinions on how to best clean Cast Iron, but everyone agrees that soap is not recommended for normal day to day cleaning. Some folks use hot water and a scrub brush. Others heat the Cast Iron and use a scraper and hot oil. Some people use oil and rags for cleaning, while others rub out their pans with salt and towels. Cowboys used to use sand to rub out their skillets and dutch ovens. We all develop our preferences over time, but one thing is clear, there are many great ways to clean out dutch oven and not having to use water can be a blessing at times. It is good to lightly rub or coat the insides of the pans and/or lids with oil to keep the Cast Iron in top condition. Depending on the dish you cook, it is good to start with butter or oil in the pan if you can to help make cleaning easier.
When selecting Cast Iron products, cheaply made cookware just doesn't cut it. USA made is really the only way to go. Chinese made Cast Iron and other imports do not undergo the high heat process that is needed to properly strengthen the materials. The cheap imports can crack and distort much more easily. Spend a little extra and skip the hassle and frustration of cheaply made materials.
Don't be intimiated by Cast Iron Cookware. It is relatively easy to use and can become addidicting both in how you use it and the care of it. An easy way is to start is with a combo cooker, which is basically two skillets that can be used individually as skillets or together as a dutch oven. You can also just start with a griddle or skillet. Take time to read the manual that comes with your cookware and buy a book on Cast Iron or Dutch Oven Cooking. Better yet, join a Dutch Oven Club in your area! However you approach cooking with Cast Iron, you will be learning important skills that will give you years of enjoyment and prepare you for cooking in various environments.