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Eating Healthy? Get Out the Cast Iron Skillet

Eating Healthy? Get Out the Cast Iron Skillet

  • May 22, 2022

When I was a kid, I think every family in the neighborhood had a cast iron skillet. The skillets were pretty much the same, but the meals that came out of them were as varied as the families. Our next door neighbors were from St. Paul, MN and they made Swedish meatballs in their skillet.

My family was of German and English descent and our meals reflected that heritage. My mother would often make fries, sliced ​​onions, and fried potatoes until they were crispy brown. If I make an effort, I can see the German fries in the pan and smell the delicious smell permeating the house.

When German, Swedish, and European immigrants came to America, some brought their cast-iron skillets with them. These frying pans accompanied them on their westward migration. Later, cooking wagon chefs used cast-iron skillets, griddles, and Dutch Ovens to prepare meals.

A cast iron skillet looks dated compared to today’s electrical appliances. But cast iron skillets are making a comeback, and with good reason. Consider these features.

DURABILITY. Cast iron frying pans have proven themselves. They are so long-lived that they have been passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter.

USER FRIENDLINESS. You can use a cast iron skillet on your stovetop, in the oven, over an open fire, on a charcoal or gas grill. Better still, today’s cast iron pans come with a non-stick coating.

DIVERSITY. A 6 inch skillet is perfect for preparing a meal for one person. The larger 10-inch pan is just right for family dinners. Grill pans – frying pans with grooves on the bottom – are also available.

COSTS. You will search far and wide before you find better value. A 6 inch pan is around $8 and a 10 inch pan is around $17, not bad for a lifetime investment. The cost of a grill pan varies depending on whether the outside has an enamel coating.

You’ll need to reseason your pan if you’ve had it a long time. Lodge, the main maker of cast iron cookware, says you should wash the pan in hot, soapy water first. Dry the pan and leave it on the counter for a few hours.

Next, Lodge says to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the pan with solid or liquid shortening. Set the pan on a jelly roll pan to catch any drips. “Bake” the pan in the oven for an hour. Turn off the oven and let the pan cool completely before opening the door. Finally, wipe off any residue with paper towels.

Never wash a frying pan in soapy water or scrub it after it has been reseasoned. Instead, rinse the pan under hot water and wipe away any leftover food with a stiff brush. Make sure the pan is dry before putting it away. You can also rub the pan with salt to clean it. Rinse off the salt with hot water.

Over time, a dark coating will form on the bottom of your pan. Don’t worry, that’s exactly what you want. In fact, some professional chefs believe that this coating adds an extra (and maybe secret) flavor to the dishes. A well-seasoned pan only needs a coat of cooking spray to cook. Some recipes may not need trimming at all.

I have two pans, a regular pan and a grill pan. What am I correcting in them? A better question would be “What am I not fixing in them?” Out of these skillets come wonderful foods: chunky cinnamon-flavored applesauce, fried onions, peppers, mushrooms and peapods, fried brown rice with lots of veggies, scallops with lemon sauce chicken, lean hamburger patties, grilled asparagus with a hint of garlic and more.

cook healthy? Forget those fancy shmancy pans. Get out the cast iron skillet and start preparing healthy meals for you and your family.

Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. More information about her work can be found at

Thanks to Harriet Hodgson

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