The cookware used in our kitchens can majorly contribute to our body’s toxic load. This is because of the lurking toxic chemicals that dissolve in our food. Fortunately, there are various best non-toxic cookware options that are available in the market. When you read any blog or article about safe cookware, one of the first mentions will be cast iron. Just like steel, cast iron is an alloy of iron and carbon. This makes it an incredibly durable material.
If you keep the cast iron pan well cleaned, season it properly, and store it in a dry place, it can last a lifetime. It is an example of non-stick and non-toxic cookware that is affordable and easy to clean. Besides sautéing, browning, and frying, cast iron pans can also be used for baking thanks to their ability to retain heat really well. This makes cast-iron pans an example of non-toxic bakeware as well.
What Exactly Is Non-Toxic Cookware?
Cookware refers to the tools and utensils used to cook food for human consumption. The materials used in the cookware may sometimes mix with the food that comes in touch with it. The materials may include pieces of metal or coating chemicals that could be flaking off into your food. This can pose serious risks to your health. According to research, consuming chemicals like perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl has been proven to cause certain cancers, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption.
When it comes to the world of pans, cast iron pans are one of the safest non-stick pans. However, considering that cast iron is reactive, there are certain safety measures that you need to adapt. This mainly involves taking special care in maintaining and cleaning your cast-iron pan. If acidic food comes in direct contact with cast iron, it might cause a reaction. This can result in food picking up a metallic flavor and probably changing its coloring. Below, we will discuss cast iron pans’ characteristics and cleaning tips.
Cleaning Your Cast Iron
A general rule of thumb is to avoid using any material that can cause scratches on a delicate surface. For instance, you should avoid using an abrasive sponge or a scrubbing pad to clean the cast iron. While the material itself is very durable, using an abrasive material can damage the seasoning (coating) over the pan’s surface. You’ll need a non-abrasive scrubber, a clean towel, and dish soap to clean the cast-iron pan.
After you’re done with cooking, let the pan cool down in the sink. Rinse your pan with hot water, add soap, and gently scrub the surface with a non-abrasive scrubber. You may use a tiny amount of coarse salt to loosen the tough stains. Once clean, wash away the soap and salt by rinsing your pan thoroughly. You can now absorb the excess moisture by rubbing a clean towel over the surface.
Maintaining Your Cast Iron
When seasoning your cast-iron pan, make sure to apply natural fat or neutral oil with high smoke points (vegetable oil or canola oil) over the surface. Avoid putting food items with strong smells in the pan for longer periods, e.g., fish, etc. When storing your cast-iron pan, make sure that it is completely dry.
When you properly maintain your cast iron pan, it will only get better with age. The main goal of maintaining your pan is to keep the base iron layer from rust. This is done by “seasoning” the cast-iron pan with a neutral oil that acts as a protective outer coating.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron
Once you’re done cleaning your pan properly, evenly apply a thin layer of neutral oil over its surface. Then set the pan on low heat until it’s completely dry.
This will create a thin protective layer over the surface of the pan. It protects the base layer and gives the pan its non-stick characteristics. Cooking on an unseasoned cast-iron pan might cause many issues, including sticking and rusting. If your pan reacts with the acid in the food, your cast-iron pan might lose its non-toxic cookware status.
Treat your cast-iron pan well, and your great-grandkids will probably use it too. If maintained and cleaned properly, cast iron pans can definitely be considered an example of non-toxic cookware.