The Wonderful World of Cast-Iron Cookware
By Mary Murray
Cast-iron cookware … even cooking, hard-working, and when properly taken care of, it will last a lifetime. What more can we ask?
In our kitchen we have several sizes of skillets, a traditional Dutch oven, and two Dutch ovens with legs for outdoor cooking. They’re always in use for soups, chili, roasts, and even baking bread. And come July, when we celebrate Pioneer Day, there’s sure to be a tripod over the campfire … and in the air, the heavenly aroma of savory pot roast. Off to the side, nestled in the glowing coals, will be a couple more ovens, one baking bread, another with dessert. Those outdoor meals taste so wonderful, I almost forget I’m cooking over a campfire in the heat and humidity that is July in the Midwest!
Cast iron is so easy to take care of, that a few simple steps will keep the surfaces rust-free and non-stick. If you’re fortunate to have seasoned cookware that’s been handed down and is in terrific shape, all you need to do is hand wash, immediately dry, and then rub on a light coat of vegetable oil. Add enough oil so that the cookware has a sheen, but isn’t sticky or overly oily. Use a paper towel to remove any excess oil before you store the cookware.
If your cast iron hasn’t been used recently, and has a bit of rust, that’s easily taken care of. Wash the cookware in hot soapy water, then use a stiff brush to remove any rust. Rinse well and dry thoroughly. Rub the inside and outside with a thin coating of melted shortening, or vegetable oil. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven, then heat the oven to 400 F. When the oven is hot, place the cookware upside-down on the top rack … the foil will catch any drips of shortening or oil.
Set the timer for one hour. Then, after an hour, turn the oven off, leaving the cookware inside to cool as the oven cools down. Once the cast iron has been removed from the oven, simply wipe off any excess oil before storing it.
Oh-so easy … you’ll wonder why you waited so long!
And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a gem like this cast-iron stove which belongs to our neighbors, Tom and Susie. This stove has an amazing story, and has come full circle.
What’s so amazing? Well, the stove came up for auction, and our neighbors were lucky enough to give it a new home. And while that’s not so unusual, what is wonderful is it’s the very stove that was in the home Tom grew up in. He has delightful stories remembered from childhood … what a treasure!
Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. “For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life.” You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.
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