Cast iron pans should be a mainstay in any kitchen if you ask us. They're a tried and true kitchen essential that have stood the test of time and were as commonplace in the kitchens of centuries past as they are in modern ones. And for good reason, they're simply unbeatable as a must-have kitchen tool for everything from frying an egg or searing greens to sauteeing a tofu steak. With this type of cookware, a little proper maintenance goes a long way, and one of the few food prep acts you should never do in your cast iron pan is boil water.
Simmering a little sauce or marinade is nothing to sweat. What you want to avoid, however, is an extended roiling boil, like when cooking pasta or beans. A cast iron skillet isn't the right tool for the job if boiling is required. Doing so can cause the all-important seasoning on the surface of the pan to flake off. This not only results in unappetizing black flakes in your meal but also degrades and chips away at the seasoning, which is paramount when cooking with cast iron.
Protect Your Cast Iron Pan's Seasoning
There's no shortage of reasons to sing the praises of cast iron cookware. They're nontoxic, beautiful, they evenly cook and brown all manner of foods, and, when properly cared for, they are truly a lifetime investment that you can pass down through the family. Cast iron is a far cry from the cheap Teflon-coated cookware from the big box stores. But, in exchange for these numerous benefits, a little tender loving care is required to ensure their function and longevity.
If you've ever been intimidated by cooking in cast iron, the thing to remember is that it's all about the seasoning, and we're not talking about salt and pepper. This refers to the top layer of oil on the pan that's cooked onto the cast iron through a process called polymerization. Stripping the seasoning via overly harsh scrubbing, soaking your pan in water, or bringing water to a boil are all no-nos. The smooth, shiny seasoning gets built up over time through repeated use and is crucial for protecting your pan from rust and keeping it naturally non-stick and easy to clean. If you forget and boil water in your pan, don't fret, you can always reseason damaged or flaking pans. With proper care, your cast iron skillet will stay beautiful and highly functional for generations to come.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.