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Cast-iron pots, skillets remain kitchen workhorses |

Cast-iron pots, skillets remain kitchen workhorses



Columbia Daily Tribune

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Some of the first cookware used in the American Colonies was cast iron. The name Dutch oven has many possibilities of origin. We do know that the original casting of metals in a sand mold was done in Holland. It is also known that the Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania almost exclusively used cast-iron pots and kettles, often doing the cooking in open fireplaces. The pioneers who traveled west could only bring a limited number of items in their covered wagons. Cast-iron pots could be used over an open fire, and a whole meal could be cooked at one time while the bread was baking in another pot. Although rarely used over an open fire, except by campers today, cast-iron cookware is still a favorite in many kitchens. NBC’s Al Roker recently said his cast-iron skillet is the one thing he would not be without.

Just about anything can be cooked in a Dutch oven or skillet. Fried chicken and bacon will be the crispiest. My mother always stirred her cream pie filling continuously in her big iron skillet. I love to bake cornbread and even apple pies in my cast-iron skillet. I bought the 10-inch skillet more than 40 years ago, and it is still my favorite tool for stir-frying. They last a lifetime. Cast-iron cookware will not wear out and are totally indestructible. The handle sure won’t break off. With just a little care, these utensils can be passed from generation to generation.

I often get calls for instructions on how to care for, season or re-season cast iron cookware. Unless you have one of the pre-seasoned pieces, such as those sold by Lodge Manufacturing after 2002, you can season it yourself to make cast iron nonstick. Cast iron should never be put in the dishwasher and should not be set aside to soak. The following are basic instructions for care of these special pots. If you have one stored away, start using it, and it will soon become your favorite way to cook.

Julia Helvey, a longtime Columbia resident and professional home economist, has been cooking since childhood. Reach her via email at editor@columbia tribune.com.

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