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The Truth about Using Cast Iron Pans and How to Season Them
You have probably heard quite a bit already about the dangers of using non-stick or Teflon coated cookware and how cast iron is the way to go. However, you have probably also heard a lot of stories, rumors, and advice about what you can do with a cast iron pan, whether new pans or old pans are better, and how you should season them. And what the heck is “seasoning” when talking about a pan anyway?
The truth is that Teflon pans, although easy and convenient, are dangerous. When they get very hot, such as when you fry foods, or, oops, burn food, they emit toxic chemicals into the air that are deadly enough they can kill small animals. Once the finish has been compromised by a scratch or chip, extremely tiny pieces flake off and end up in your food. It’s dangerous as well as disgusting and no one wants to think about eating chemicals like that, or worse, feeding those chemicals to your children!
So chances are really good that you have decided to go with some good old-fashioned cast iron pans. That’s a great choice! You can rush right out and buy them new, or scour your local thrift stores and yard sales for them, or ask your grandmother for a few of her old ones. No matter where you find them or how you obtain them, you won’t regret having cast iron pans.
One of the best things about cast iron pans is that you can use them on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, or even take them camping and use them over an open campfire. They are inexpensive, last a lifetime, and are so darn tough that if you drop one on the floor, the floor is going to be your concern regarding damage, not your cast iron pan!
When it’s been properly seasoned, a cast iron pan is easy to clean and almost as good as non-stick pans. It won’t cook exactly like your Teflon pan, it won’t be as non-stick as your Teflon pan, but unless you drop the pan on someone’s head, it also won’t hurt anyone– something you can never say about a non-stick pan.
Besides being non-toxic, cast iron actually has health benefits, which is another thing no one can say about Teflon. Every time you cook, tiny bits of iron are being passed into your food. Iron builds up red blood cells, so this is super great for those who are anemic, or for pregnant women.
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