Curing cast iron frying pan

How to care for iron pans

When you start to look at other non-stick cooking options, you will see that iron is a good choice.

It can be a bit confusing because there are several types that while they look the same have certain differences both in price and in the way they are used and maintained.

In this post we will cover in detail everything you need to know to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Iron ore

These pans are made of natural materials, mainly iron plus a layer of beeswax.

Maintenance and cleaning

Unlike conventional frying pans, this type needs extra care. It is not very laborious, we just have to take it into account to make good use.

First healing or sealing: 

When you have the pan, here's the first thing you need to do before you can use it.

  1. Wash the pan with very hot water and scrub the entire surface well to remove excess beeswax. Dry a paper towel.
  2. Put the pan on the fire and cover with oil. Once it starts to smoke, carefully discard the oil and dry the remains with a piece of paper.

Maintenance: 

When cooking on a daily basis.

  • You DO have to do
  1. Wash the pan with very hot water and a sponge.
  2. Dry the pan to prevent rusting.
  3. Grease with a little oil and it will be ready for the next use.
  4. Purify sporadically: heat the pan with a little salt for a minute and a half at high power. Remove the salt by rubbing with a piece of paper. This process helps to eliminate odors and remains of previous cooking.
  • NO you have to do:
  1. Soaking
  2. put it in the dishwasher
  3. leave the food in it

With use, it will darken and improve its natural non-stick properties. 

If you cook acidic foods (tomato, white wine, lemon...) it must be cured again, following the steps explained in the first cure.

Uses

  • Food: 

Iron is a reactive material, which is why it is not advisable to cook acidic foods such as tomato sauce. to prevent it from being transferred to the food.

  • Temperature: 

Like iron, it has a high driving power, high temperatures should not be used all at once. Also do not wash the still hot pan with cold water, as the contrast could cause the same negative effect. This is especially important in large diameter frying pans (26 cm or more) which are easier to deform.

It is advisable to put the pan on low heat and gradually increase the heat. When it is hot, add the fat you are cooking with.

When cooking meat or fish, use high heat to seal that side of the food and wait to turn. If you try to turn it before it seals, the food is more likely to get caught.

Price

The cheapest of the 3 options by far. It will depend on the size, but you can buy a good pan for about 30€.

Cast iron

Also known as cast iron pans.

Maintenance and cleaning

First healing

Normally, these frying pans come with the first cure already done, but it is important to read the instructions on the one you have purchased to make sure.

Maintenance

Exactly the same as in the iron ore ones we have just explained.

Uses

Avoid long cooking times and acidic foods.

Price

The price may seem scary at first glance, but you have to crunch the numbers.

Most frying pans with Teflon (which we don't want to consume if we want to avoiding toxics) should be renewed approximately every year, although it varies depending on the use you make of them.

Cast iron pans are practically for life, hence brands offer extensive warranties such as 10 years or even some offer a lifetime warranty.

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Enameled iron

These are cast iron pans to which an enameled or vitrified coating has been added. 

Maintenance and cleaning

Healing and mmaintenance

The fact of having this extra layer makes the price even more expensive, on the other hand, it does not require curing treatments to use and maintain the frying pan. 

Cleaning

They are cleaned like any traditional frying pan, with soap and a scouring pad that does not damage the material. They are dishwasher safe, although personally I never do it.

Uses

Since the pan has this extra layer of protection, you have no limits when it comes to cooking with them.

Price

It is somewhat more expensive than cast iron.

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Summary table

MineralMeltVitrified
Treatmentcure + maintenancecure + maintenancesingle wash
Usesbe careful with acids and long cookingbe careful with acids and long cookingwithout limitations
Antihaderentes
Compatibilitygas, vitro and inductiongas, vitro and inductiongas, vitro and induction
Priceeconomicmiddle priceexpensive although they are amortized because they last for many years.
Dishwasher
Weightless heavyvery heavyvery heavy

While in use cast iron and mineral iron are very similar, in price mineral iron is the most advantageous.

All iron frying pans have the following in common

Suitable for all types of fires

All these frying pans can be used on gas, vitroceramic or induction hobs.

Depending on whether the handle is suitable or not, you can also put them in the oven.

Not non-stick

If you are used to cooking with nonstick pans, you will need some time to get used to cooking with iron.

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