We broke up with Teflon and have a new relationship with the cast iron pan. After the constant replacing of scratched pans and wondering if Teflon is really safe to cook on, we decided to ditch it. I was scared to live with out it! I love making a quick egg with easy clean up, and Teflon pans do clean up quickly.
Years ago, a cancer causing compound was found in Teflon and has been removed. If you have old Teflon, I’d read a few articles and decide if you still want to cook on it. Personally, I wouldn’t. While the Teflon product has improvements to its safety, I’m not thrilled that when heated too high (like preheating a pan) or scratched, it can still present health risks. We are legit eating chemicals. But can we live without it? I found this article balanced and informative. Not to mention, you have to replace Teflon pans if they become scratched. Cast iron will last a lifetime. Think about all the Teflon pans in the garbage and energy used to make pans that are in essence temporary. Plus, they get expensive.
I (Will) do most of the cooking in our house, and Susan does the baking. I always wanted to master cooking eggs in traditional pan without them sticking, so Susan challenged me to not use Teflon for 30 days. We took the pans out of the cabinet and set them in another room and broke out the cast iron pans.
In short, the answer is there was some adjustment time, but cast iron is amazing. It’s a habit change to clean and care for cast iron, but once we got used to it, no big deal. If you’re thinking of ditching Teflon, here’s some things we learned while making the switch to cast iron, plus some steel pan options as well.
The main thing is cast iron needs to be seasoned or ‘oiled up’ to make it non stick. We found vegetable oil worked the best and lasted the longest. We reseasoned as needed. Here’s a good video how-to from Serious Eats.
We don’t use heavy dish washing detergent and we don’t have a dishwasher. (We have to renovate our kitchen to install a dishwasher.) All our pans are washed by hand! It takes a minute to wash a pan. If food gets stuck, we use a stainless steel scrubber to remove it. Overall, it’s been pretty easy to care for once you get in the routine.
Yes, you can buy vintage! If you see a rusty old pan while antiquing, you can restore it. It’s kinda amazing how these pans were built to last. I rounded up my favorites for your shopping pleasure. One of the less expensive brands is Lodge. We have Lodge pans and they are amazing. I also linked to some local makers and more designer cast iron.
Another option is carbon steel and stainless steel. It’s just a matter of preference – they both have the same functionality. One bonus with steel pans, they are much more light weight than cast iron. I find the carbon steel doesn’t hold heat for as long as cast iron. That could be good or bad, depending on what you’re cooking.
Switching pans is like anything you do in life, it takes practice to get the hang of how it works. Now I can cook fried eggs, and slide them out of the pan without a spatula. And well, it’s safe to eat, too.
I asked a group of my friends on social and from the blogging community to try something with me: each month we change one small thing. One small habit. It takes a very long time to change behavior we’ve had our entire life. Think about it: will it take one or two generations to change how much and what we consume? I hope this topic inspires you to see what changes the group is making.
One Small Thing
Deeply Southern Home
House 214 Design
House of Brinson
Park and Division
Room for Tuesday
Up to Date Interiors
My favorite cast iron pan is one I bought at an antique mall for $30. It’s an 8 or 10 inch pan by Wagner and although it is a little small sometimes I would have trouble lifting a larger pan with one hand. We’re still using our set of anodized aluminum pans that we bought over 10 years ago but I’d like to get a carbon steel pan when we’re ready to replace our egg poaching pan and large saute pan.
I love cast iron! We’ve been cooking with traditional cast iron, cast iron enamel, and tin-lined copper in our kitchen for ages – each type of metal/coating serves a different purpose. The best part about those particular pots and pans is that they can last even more than a lifetime! The oldest pot in my kitchen is a small tin-lined copper sauce-pot from the 1880s that we use for making chocolate syrup, single servings of soup, or small amounts of sauce. It cooks just as well as the day it was made over a hundred years ago! Most of our cast iron are hand-me-downs from my husband’s side. His great grandfather was a cowboy cook in the 1910s and 1920s so we have an abundance of old cast iron that’s been passed down through four generations and they’re so perfectly seasoned they’re essentially non-stick. I made bacon and eggs in one this morning and it’s every bit as good as teflon! I hope you enjoy the switch!
Thats so cool, you can’t even make that up! A cowboy cook, fantastic. We are loving the cast iron so far. What I have learned the most is that tomatoes really take away the non-stick elements, but the non-stick is easy to get back. Thanks so much for sharing!
I love cast iron, too. We also have some massive stainless steel pots for making cheese and otherwise we have a vintage Dansk enamel-lined pan and Revereware, which originally belonged to my husband’s grandmother. We snagged the Revereware when she moved into a retirement home because we knew it was good reliable cookware and better than what we had before. I probably use the cast iron the most, though. I have a tiny cast iron pan that is the perfect size for frying one egg, as it just fills the pan. I also have a huge dutch oven from Bayou Classic, much larger than the regularly available Lodge ones.
Yessss Susan! I love cast iron! I only cook on cast iron (both enameled and not) and stainless steel or copper. Im a southern girl so I learned to cook on cast iron very young. I cant live without it. I love that you broke up with Teflon! I also love to find my cast iron at estate sales and flea markets:) And another thing…I totally just realized Im supposed to be in this group! Lord I suck!
We switched to cast iron, enamel cast iron when we had our first child 20 years ago (after reading about the cancer issues) and never looked back. All of our cookware was bought used at Swedish flea markets while on summer vacations for 2-15 € per piece. Most of these pots and pans are from the 60s or 70s and they are in great condition, so you can easily pass them on to your grandchildren. Family and friends always worry that they are complicated to handle which I find quite the opposite is true. Cleaning cast iron is a bliss. Enjoy your new habit!
I have one, my favorite to cook fish. That’s a gift from my mom