We named it Mjollnir, Pan of the Gods (The name of Thor's hammer hah).
Why cast iron?? Well, I am glad you asked!
As we all know, regular non-stick frying pans are coated with PFOA (thanks to companies including Teflon). Perfluorooctanoic acid is considered a likely human carcinogen and has been found to be present in 95% of the human populations bloodstream and 100% of umbilical cords. Although the US Environmental Protection Agency has convinced big companies like DuPont and Teflon to phase out the use of PFOA's by 2010, it would seem that none of the replacement chemicals are any safer!
Health Canada admits that heating pans over 350 degrees carries risk and in fact will release OTHER toxins such as TFE's which are possible carcinogens. And we cook our food on these things??? Ick.
Enter Mjollnir, Pan of the Gods.
Cast iron pans have been used forever and used to be considered family Heirlooms, passed down through generations and lovingly used. Look in your grandparents basement or attic and you might find pans or cookware stored post-nonstick and with a bit of seasoning will work beautifully (and be free!).
Cast iron has excellent heat retention and diffuses heat evenly across surfaces. No more uneven "hot spots" on your pan. Cast iron pans do release minute amounts of iron into foods, which would actually be beneficial if you had low-blood iron levels. Many companies make cast iron pans out of recycled iron content and pans can be made with low technology (read: less petroleum).
This is all wonderful, but my issue was the seasoning required. In order to achieve non-stickness, cast iron pans need to be properly seasoned with oil to coat the pan PRE cooking. Ugh, preparation... I am not a fan.
Thankfully, Andrew was ALL over that. In the words of Andrew, THIS is how you season a cast iron pan (which he said was easy):
"If you buy a new pan, it comes with a food grade wax on it, so you have to scrape that off. Which I did with a dishcloth and Kosher salt.
You have to make sure the pan is clean and thoroughly dry with NO water on it. So you have to put it on a burner with heat to evaporate any water left, cuz we're using oil to season it, oil and water, come on...
Then you wait for the pan to cool again (don't touch the handle!!), and cover entire pan with a thin layer of oil. I chose olive oil because of it's low smoke point. Meaning, it will burn at a lower temperature. We want the oil to form a layer of carbon, cuz that's what gives the pan it's nonstick. So we need to BURN the oil. (he actually said burn that sh*t)...
In order to burn it, you put it in the oven upside down and crank up the heat. I had it at 450 (no preheating), really what's important is that the oven is above the smoke point of your oil... olive oil's smoke point is 375.
Then you open some windows and wait about an hour and fifteen minutes. It smokes (ugh, it stunk), turn off the oven and wait for it to cool. Which might take until the next day. I just left it overnight.
Repeat two more times (some people have done this up to seven times pre-use). Then you end up with a shiny, black pan!"
Andrew's Tips on Care for your Mjollnir:
- Keep it away from water! If it's wet, dry it immediately and thoroughly, preferably over a heat source.
- Never, NEVER use soap to "clean" it. Soap will break down the seasoning.
- Using kosher salt to scrub OR
- Pour some hot (or boiling) water and scrap with a silicone spatula over heat. Pour out the water, wipe it down with a clean cloth (which you might want to hold with tongs so you don't burn yourself). Dry it over the burner again and put it away (once cooled).
- If you're cooking something that's not oily or greasy, you may want to rub the pan with some oil and pop it in the oven after use.
- Season your pan at least once a year.
- Store it with a cloth to wick away any moisture (humidity).
- Cast Iron is brittle, and could shatter if dropped or thermally shocked (by pouring cold water).
Also, Andrew is mumbling that he's probably a little "intense" about Mjollnir, and even if it rusts you can just sand it down... His claim: "They're pretty unstoppable".
A true measure of a Deity's cookware. Unstoppable.
article and photo copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com