The Art of Cast Iron Cooking: Why it’s a Southern Tradition

As a restaurant, we know well that what you cook with can be just as important as how you cook a recipe – and we don’t just mean ingredients. Tools, cookware, and appliances can make or break a recipe, which is why you might see a difference between how your pork chops turned out and how they looked on the Southern Living or Paula Deen website. And if there’s one tool that all kitchens should have, it’s a cast iron skillet.

Cast iron cookware has been cherished by generations for its unparalleled ability to deliver mouthwatering dishes with exceptional flavors. From sizzling steaks and hearty stews to delectable desserts, the art of cast iron cooking holds a special place in the hearts of Southern chefs and home cooks alike for good reason.


The Versatility of Cast Iron Cookware
One of the key aspects that make cast iron cooking so popular is its versatility. Cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, griddles, and pans can be used on various heat sources, from stovetops to ovens and even campfires. This adaptability opens up a world of possibilities for culinary exploration, making it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and home cooks alike.


  • Benefits of Cooking with Cast Iron
    Heat Retention: Cast iron’s exceptional heat retention ensures even cooking and helps retain the flavors and juices of the ingredients, resulting in dishes with enhanced taste and texture.
  • Non-stick Properties: With proper seasoning and care, cast iron develops a natural non-stick surface, making it an excellent alternative to modern non-stick cookware, which may contain harmful chemicals.
  • Durability: Well-maintained cast iron cookware can last for generations, making it a sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice.
  • Iron Enrichment: Cooking with cast iron can add a small amount of iron to your food, which may be beneficial for individuals with iron deficiencies.

Seasoning and Care Tips
Seasoning is the process of treating the cast iron surface with oil to create a natural non-stick coating and prevent rusting. Here are some tips for seasoning and maintaining your cast iron cookware:

  • Initial Seasoning: New cast iron cookware usually comes pre-seasoned, but it’s a good idea to reinforce the seasoning before use. Coat the entire surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil and heat it in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for about an hour. Let it cool in the oven before using.
  • Cleaning: Avoid using harsh detergents or abrasive scrubbers on your cast iron cookware, as they can strip away the seasoning. Instead, use a gentle brush or sponge with warm water to clean it after each use.
  • Drying and Oil Coating: After washing, dry the cookware thoroughly, then apply a thin layer of oil to the interior and exterior to maintain the seasoning and prevent rusting.
  • Avoid Acidic Foods: Acidic ingredients can break down the seasoning, so it’s best to avoid cooking highly acidic foods for long periods in your cast iron cookware.

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