A piece of cast-iron cookware is a staple in any chef’s kitchen. It can be used for stovetop cooking, oven roasting, and even deep-frying. Not to mention the fantastic results campers and other camp cooking enthusiasts achieve when using their cast-iron cookware over flames or using briquettes.
However, there are some foods that should not be cooked in a cast-iron pot or pan.
You should not cook acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons, and other citrus foods, delicate proteins like white flakey fish and eggs. Also, sticky foods, such as desserts with sugary sauces before carrying out a thorough seasoning of your cast-iron Dutch oven, skillet, or pan.
What is Cast-Iron Cookware?
They are sturdy and heavy cooking pots, ovens, and skillets (just to name a few) manufactured from iron that is then seasoned. The seasoned surface not only stops your food from sticking to the surface of the iron but protects your cast iron from rusting or worse – corroding.
You will also find cast-iron cookware in the form of cast-iron coated in enamel that is suitable for use in a kitchen not on a campfire.
Sometimes you will also find similar cookware that is made from ceramic, aluminum, stainless steel and various other metals. They can be coated or uncoated.
Cast-iron skillets, pots and pans are made all in one piece when manufactured. They are made from molten iron that is then pored into casts.
Dutch ovens are made the same way all in one piece. The pot has handles molded in one piece with the oven used for moving them safely during the cooking process. They have fitted lids that are heavy and tight to keep the steam inside the pot. The lid loop is also in one piece moulded along with the lid.
Cast iron pieces of cookware are known to have a long-lasting and extended life-span. The long life span can be attributed to the great care and maintenance of a good quality piece of cast iron.
What Foods You Not Cook in Cast-Iron?
Do Not Cook Acidic Foods in Cast-Iron
Cast iron is a great cooking tool, but there are some acidic foods that should not be used with it. Avoid tomatoes and other citrus fruits as well as wine or vinegar when using cast-iron cookware.
Cast iron is a tough, but not indestructible material. Acid from acidic ingredients can make it easier for your cast-iron Dutch oven to rust and corrode over time.
This in turn can result in leaching of iron and other metals into dishes you prepare. How can you prevent this? Keep your cast-iron well seasoned.
No Delicate Fish on a Cast-Iron Surface
Cast iron cookware is respected and admired for its strength and capacity to preserve and retain heat, making them the preferred choice for getting that perfect and absolute browned crust covering a steak. But this same asset is a liability for more dainty meat that won’t endure the excessive heat.
Flaky white fish is in danger of breaking up, maybe even falling to pieces when getting flipped in cast iron. Even with a fuller fish like salmon, the skin can cling and attach to the cast-irons surface, making flipping the delicate fish unmanageable.
If a cast-iron surface is all you have to prepare delicate ingredients to use parchment paper as well as use plenty of oil. You will still retain all the heat benefits of cast iron cookware just with a little non-stick intervention…
Preferably, cook your fish in a stainless-steel skillet.
No Sticky Foods
We have ascertained that Dutch ovens are a staple for any cook, but there is another type of food you should avoid when using them – sticky foods. If you are cooking with cast iron, it is best to avoid food that will leave residue and prevent the pot from maintaining its non-stick properties.
- Tomato sauce
- BBQ Sauce
- Maple syrup
- Caramel sauce
- Oily & fatty foods (sticky if burned)
For the best cooking results, and easy clean-up process, as well as keeping flavors out of your cast iron try to keep your cast-iron free of gooey substances. As cast iron is a porous material that absorbs food flavors and colors easily make sure you thoroughly clean the pan afterward.
Tip: You could even use foil liners which can be removed before cleaning if you cook sticky types of food!
A Caveat to Cooking Delicate Food on Cast Iron
The caveat to avoidance of these types of food comes down to how well you care for your cast iron Cookware. When the seasoning has a shiny non-stick Patina not only will you be able to cook these foods but your cast iron will not retain odors associated with these foods.
Maintaining a shiny cooking surface along with – honing your cast-iron cooking skills could prevent the foods mentioned above from ruining your cast-iron’s cooking surface.
How to Cook Food That You Shouldn’t on Cast-Iron
Cast-iron cookware, when unboxed has a light pre-seasoned surface only. That is designed to protect the cast iron during transit and storage periods.
Leaving you with cast iron that has a porous surface or covering that will greedily soak up flavors as the seasoning is not repellent enough.
1. Season Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Cookware
Until the iron undergoes a deep seasoning as well as further regular use to maintain this seasoning it will not work to its full natural non-stick capacity.
Beware that even well-seasoned cast-iron is more likely to take on the flavors of dishes than a stainless steel skillet or other non-stick pans.
Mainly because it is not a recommendation to clean cast iron with soap, as the soap breaks down the seasoning quicker and using water and good old scrubbing by hand.
Learn to clean your cast-iron cookware the correct way. This allows the seasoning to stay intact longer thus preventing sticking and dishes from taking on odors from previously cooked food.
See this article about seasoning cast-iron cookware before it’s first use – here
2. Cooking Delicate & Aromatic Foods on Cast-Iron
When you want to prepare fish, eggs, other delicate proteins, battered food, as well as aromatic foods, do the following:
Oil – Use plenty of oil on a rough cast-iron surface to prevent food sticking.
Heat – Make sure the oil and cast-iron are hot enough to form a crust on the outside of the food to prevent sticking and making it easier to turn over.
Parchment paper – Using Dutch oven liners or parchment paper that will act as a barrier between a compromised surface and your baking or dessert. Extra insurance is to lightly oil the paper and/or sprinkle with flour this will assist in keeping aromatic flavors out of your baking.
3. Cooking Desserts On Cast Iron Cookware
Before cooking desserts you will want to ensure that the surface is clean and does not have lingering aromas from curries, stews, or fish you have prepared previously.
If you intend to use your cast-iron for making desserts on a regular basis it might be wise to purchase a separate piece of cookware. After all, cast-iron cookware is quite affordable!
Don’t fear cleaning or seasoning cast-iron check out this article that will assist you in getting and maintaining a non-stick cast-iron surface.
To Finish – What Not to Cook in Cast Iron
In a nutshell you have learned why cast iron’s surface takes on the flavors of the food you cook.
After an initial deep seasoning and by cooking steaks and bacon in your new cast-iron. The fat the cast iron will consume from these foods will intensify the layer and surface of hardened fat.
Ultimately, after it has managed to bake fattier foods and is cleaned and maintained properly, your cast-irons cooking surface will become smoother and slicker, more non-stick, and will even be able to cook foods like pancakes and eggs.
So after the initial few months of baking and cooking on your cast iron, you will want to ensure the seasoning of your cast-iron is in fact building up a natural non-stick shiny Patina. If not season again.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
Thanks for the video music – Ben Sound