Cast iron cookware has been in home kitchens for hundreds of years. When properly cared for, cast iron skillets, pots, pans, kettles and Dutch ovens can last for generations. Leaving a cast iron kettle or pot on the stove top adds a rustic feel to your kitchen decor. They also look great on a hutch or display shelf. You can also place a cast iron kettle or pie steamer casserole filled with scented water on top of a wood burning stove to add moisture and aroma to the air.
Some cast iron cookware can be purchased pre-seasoned. Seasoning is a treatment that is applied to the cookware to protect it from rusting and provides a non stick surface ideal for cooking. This is done by applying a layer of lard, vegetable, palm or coconut oil to the surface of the metal and then heating it in the oven to bond the fat to the metal. Cooking with fats and oils over time also adds to the seasoning process.
When cleaning your cast iron cookware, it is important not to use a soap or detergent as this will remove the seasoning. The most common methods for cleaning cast iron are simply wiping it off or rinsing with hot water.
Cast iron’s ability to maintain and withstand very high temperatures makes it an excellent choice for searing and frying. It also retains and diffuses heat making it great for slow cooking. Cast iron Dutch ovens are commonly used for this. The term "Dutch oven" has been around for over 300 years, as this type of cooking vessel was first developed in the Netherlands. Cooking with Dutch ovens was very popular with early American colonists and through the 1800's with the explorers of the American frontier and cowboys on long cattle drives. They could be used over a campfire and with coals placed directly on the lid as baking ovens to make biscuits, cakes, breads, pizzas and pies. They were also used for slow cooking roasts and stews. Dutch oven cooking remains as popular as ever today.
With its long history as a staple of home kitchens, cast iron cookware is a valuable addition to your home. In fact, cast iron cookware was so loved and valued by people in the 18th and 19th centuries that it was included in many wills to be passed down to other family members. Start your own collection of cast iron cookware and add some rustic flavor to your kitchen decor.