Cast iron cookware will last a lifetime and cook better than pretty much any other type of cookware, which is why many professional chefs wouldn’t be without it, however you do need to look after them properly.
Care and attention is required.
The trick is to properly season your cast-iron and to wash it gently and then re-season after each use – particularly in the beginning. You want your cast-iron pans to develop a beautiful patina this in effect gives you a nonstick coating and that’s why the more you use your cast-iron pan the better it gets.
Cast-iron is safe and non-toxic. But it does require careful preparation – especially before using a new cast-iron skillet or pan. You must season it correctly and do so repeatedly. Most people probably won’t bother. Those folks are better off using coated nonstick pans and replacing them as the coating breaks down.
The thing is… preparation of cast iron cookware is the hardest part. It’s not difficult at all. But is it is a necessary prerequisite – and it is going to take some time. If you’re looking for a “quick and easy” solution – this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for that perfect sear… for food that cooks evenly and quickly (after preheating)… and for the unmatched taste sensation from properly-cooked food on a cast iron flat top or griddle – read on. In this article, we will uncover the top cast iron griddles available today. Some prefer cast iron griddles (ribbed to mimic the shape of an actual grill or barbecue) while others prefer their cast iron flat top (or skillet) style.
The good news is that the top picks we’ve found are all interchangeable. That’s right. These cast iron gems offer the perfect griddle surface on one side – and smooth skillet cooking surface on the other. Included is our top pick in the round cast iron griddle category, as well as a couple of excellent options in the extra large cast iron griddle division.
Seasoning is Crucial To Cast Iron Cooking
Seasoning cast-iron is absolutely necessary. There’s no way around it. And although some cast iron pans are shipped “pre-seasoned” it’s always a good idea to add your own. And in fact, seasoning is something you’ll want to do on a regular basis.
The Process – Step By Step
Seasoning cast iron cookware involves cleaning and drying it first. Use hot water without any soap and a stiff bristle brush. Gently scrub every nook and cranny.
Once you’ve done this, its time to rinse the pan out and dry it thoroughly on all sides. The best way to do this is to place it inside a preheated oven for a few minutes. Then remove and allow it to cool. You’re now ready to begin seasoning your new cast iron griddle.
Next, apply a thin layer of flaxseed oil and spread in around all surfaces and edges of the pan. Buff it in to make sure it coats evenly and fill in all areas. Flax seed oil works best because it can withstand high heat and polymerize. This is the process that converts wet liquid oil into a slick hardened surface. Other oils tend to break down at high temperatures, leaving black carbon deposits in the pan.
The next step is to wipe down any excess oil that remains after rubbing in the flax oil and buffing it into the surface. The surface of the pan shouldn’t look greasy. But after repeating this process a few times, a nice patina should develop. Use paper towel to soak up any remaining oil. Lastly, the final step for each round of seasoning is to heat the cookware to allow the process polymerization to occur.
Once the oil is rubbed in and any excess removed from all surfaces of the griddle or pan, place your cookware in the oven (pre-heated at 400°) for 45 minutes to an hour. This is what builds that nice protective coating helping make your stainless steel cookware perform in similar fashion to a nonstick skillet. But you never have to baby cast iron and can use any type of utensils – without doing damage.
The above process completes one cycle of seasoning. You then repeat the entire process several times (three to five times is recommended with new cast iron cookware). Yes, you could easily spend an entire day prepping your cast iron griddles and skillets. But doing so virtually guarantees you the best results for years to come.