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Caring for Cast Iron

A well cared for piece of cast iron cookware will last a lifetime

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When it comes to outdoor cooking the number one cookware has to be cast iron. No other material can withstand the kind of punishment it can. Cast iron pots and pans can be stacked right in campfires, put straight on the grill, and packed with live coals. The most expensive chef’s ware wouldn't last a season of the kind of treatment that cast iron cookware was built for.

In addition to this durability, cast iron is thick and heavy, allowing it to absorb and evenly distribute heat. The inconsistent heating of a live fire is evened out by cast iron, creating an excellent cooking environment. Cast iron cookware, properly seasoned and treated, is also a naturally nonstick surface.

There are many more advantages to cooking with cast iron. For instance, cast iron adds significant amounts of dietary iron to foods, making it very healthy to cook with it. Also, cast iron cookware retains heat, allowing you to reduce cooking temperatures. You will similarly find that foods cooked in cast iron pots retain a lot more moisture, making foods more tender and flavorful.

However, as perfect as cast iron might be for outdoor cooking, it demands care. Cast iron is, after all, an iron. This type of cookware does not have a smooth surface and can quickly rust if not properly treated. This care must be constant. The intense heat of real fires will burn away the protective coatings that you have worked so hard to create.

Seasoning: The secret to caring for cast iron is in the seasoning. Properly seasoned and cared, for cast iron will last literally forever. So what is seasoning? It is a process of coating the surface with oil, fat or grease to create a barrier between the metal and the environment. Because of the porous nature of cast iron, you need to melt oil into every pore to keep moisture out. It is this moisture that is cast iron's natural enemy.

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