I became a convert to the cast iron way of life about 5 years ago when I found a 10” Griswold pan in the basement of my parent’s house. Long forgotten from my father’s college days, it still had its shiny seasoning coating the bottom without a speck of rust. I took it home, excited to find an alternative to non-stick Teflon pans, which research has shown may cause ill health effects from the chemicals in the coating.

Five years later, that Griswold is the pan I cook with 95% of the time. Aside from a saucepan to boil water, or a stockpot to make soup in, I use my cast iron for everything. As a permanent fixture on my stove top, I don’t even bother putting it away in the cabinet. I use it every morning to cook my eggs, and every evening to sauté vegetables or brown meat. And the best part is I barely have to clean it.

Cast iron pans build up a ‘seasoning’ that creates a non-stick surface without the use of chemical coatings. This seasoning comes from the oil and microscopic food bits that get cooked into the bottom of the pan every time you use it, so the more you use the pan, the better seasoning it will have. That seasoning also adds flavor to the food, giving your meals a uniqueness only your pan can create. Cast irons retain heat better than most other pans, so you can get a cleaner sear on your meat and the food will stay hotter longer. Best of all, cast iron pans will boost your iron intake – so if you are iron deficient, an athlete, or happen to be of the female sex, a cast iron pan can help you get that little bit extra iron your body needs.

Cast iron pans can have a bad rap for rusting easily or being hard to clean, but they are much easier to maintain and clean than a normal pan with just a couple easy steps:

  1. Use it every day….or at least A LOT. The more you use it, the better the seasoning, and the less likely it will rust.

  2. Once you are done cooking, remove the food from the pan and give it a quick rinse immediately. I only rinse it with water and use a soft scrub brush if there are any stuck-on pieces of food, but I never use soap.