Can you cook tomato sauce in cast iron pan?

Step 1: Wash out the pan

You may have heard that you should never ever use soap on cast iron. That’s not entirely true—a well-seasoned skillet has enough of a coating that a little surfactant won’t hurt it. Still, in general, plain water is the way to go—unless you’re about to reseason cast iron.

In this case, you want to get rid of any little food particles and bits of rust on the surface before you season, so you can create the smoothest possible coating. That means you should use soap. If your pan is rusted out, take some steel wool to it and scrub that red color off. Really go for it, and feel free to scour the outside of the pan as well—it can’t hurt.

Is Staub made in China?

The standard advice from most cookware companies is that pots and pans with chipped enamel are unsafe and shouldn’t be used. We imagine that the danger is not so much the exposed cast-iron as it is that the enamel could chip further and you’ll wind up with bits of enamel in your food.

Video

How do you clean a burnt enamel on a Dutch oven?

This classic cast iron Dutch oven is perfect for camping.

“The difference may only be in name,” explains cultural historian and author Shirley Wajda, adding that once French cuisine became popular in the U.S., the word cocotte also referred to the dishes made within the pot by the same name, much like a casserole.

How Should I Dry My Skillet?

Don’t store your cast iron while it’s still wet because Iron + Water = Rust.

How do you dry a skillet? Sounds obvious, but with a towel (cloth or paper). You can let it air-dry, but that could lead to small spots of rust developing if the air circulation is poor.

Some people like to dry their skillets on the stove over low heat for half a minute or so. This works, but if you wander away and forget the skillet is on the stove, you can return to a smoking, red-hot skillet. Not like I’ve ever, ever done anything like that. (Note to self and others: set a timer.)

The Myth: You should never wash cast iron with soap

THE TESTING: During our extensive recipe-testing process we generated hundreds of dirty skillets and thus had plenty of opportunities to test different cleaning methods. While developing our recommended procedure, we experimented with a variety of cleansers, including dish soap and scouring powders.

THE TAKEAWAY: We found that a few drops of dish soap are not enough to interfere with the polymerized bonds on the surface of a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Don’t scrub the pan with abrasives like steel wool or use harsh cleansers like Comet, and don’t soak the pan, since those things can definitely affect the seasoning, but it’s OK to use a few drops of dish soap if you need to clean up a particularly greasy pan, or even if that just makes you feel more comfortable with your cast iron. Just make sure you rinse the pan clean and wipe it dry when you’re finished.

How to Clean Cast Iron

About that soap: I occasionally wash my cast iron cookware with dish soap on purpose. It’s fine. It will not ruin your skillet. When your skillet is especially greasy, a little dish soap cuts right through it.

But often it’s not necessary to wash cast iron with soap. If you’ve been griddling pancakes, a simple wipe with a paper towel might be all you need. For gunky or saucy foods, keep reading.

Instructions

    1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms and sauté 3-4 minutes.
    2. Add in garlic, jalapeño, ground beef and salt and combine well, breaking the meat as you go along. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.
    3. Add tomatoes and taco seasoning ingredients. Stir well and cook 2 minutes.
    4. Mix in tomato paste and cook 8-10 minutes.
    5. Spread cheese on top of mixture. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.

    Appetizers

    5. Skillet Nachos

    Seriously, is there anything that screams party appetizer more than a gigantic pile of heavily loaded nachos? In this case, just load up your biggest cast and watch your guests chow down!

    Get the Recipe @ thetravelpalate

    6. Creamy Shrimp Scampi Dip

    Creamy shrimp scampi dip… creamy shrimp scampi dip… creamy shrimp scampi dip… YES! You read right! Is that not the most decadent sounding appetizer you’ve ever heard of???

    Get the Recipe @ lemonblossoms

    7. Cheesy Taco Skillet

    It’s meaty, it’s cheesy, and it’s oh-so-easy! This taco skillet is a low carb bomb of an appetizer that goes great with just about anything you can think to dip in it!

    Get the Recipe

    8. Cast Iron Ham And Swiss Sliders

    If you want an app that’s super easy to make and super easy to eat, check out these simple skillet sliders. All you have to do is assemble them and bake them in your skillet, all your guests have to do is pick them up and eat them!

    Get the Recipe @ thissillygirlskitchen

    3. Dont Cook Delicate Fish In Cast Iron

    Cast-iron skillets are beloved for their ability to retain heat—all the better for getting that perfect browned crust on a steak. But this same asset is a liability when it comes to more delicate meats that won't stand up to heat as well. Flaky white fish like flounder or tilapia are at risk of falling apart and not flipping well when cooked in cast iron. Even with heartier fish like salmon, the skin is likely to stick to the cast-iron surface, making flipping difficult. Instead, cook your fish in a stainless-steel nonstick skillet.

    How to Clean and Season Cast IronView Story

    The Myth: When you cook in a cast-iron skillet, your food will absorb a lot of extra iron so you can effectively supplement your diet by using this type of pan

    THE TESTING: We simmered tomato sauce in a stainless-steel pan and in seasoned and unseasoned cast-iron pans. We then sent samples of each sauce to an independent lab to test for the presence of iron. The unseasoned cast iron released the most molecules of metal. The sauce from this pot contained nearly 10 times as much iron (108 mg⁄kg) as the sauce from the seasoned cast-iron pot, which contained only a few more milligrams than the sauce from the stainless-steel pot.

    THE TAKEAWAY: Since this occurs in pronounced amounts only with unseasoned skillets, which you wouldn’t use for cooking, we don’t consider this an issue. A seasoned cast-iron skillet will not leach any appreciable amount of iron into food cooked in it.

    Step 3: Rub your pan with oil

    The best oil to season cast iron is generally considered to be canola oil. Vegetable oil and corn oil both work fine, too. Technically, any oil or fat should do the trick, but the aforementioned are better than others because they can get pretty hot before they start smoking. You’re going to heat your pan to over 400°F, so any fat with a low smoke point will fill your oven (and house) with haze. Solid fats like shortening also have high smoke points, but they’re harder to smear over the pan in a thin, even layer, so you should stick to liquids.

    Smear the oil on the metal with a paper towel, keeping in mind that you only need a patina of fat. Make sure to coat the whole surface, inside and out. Rub it all in until it no longer looks greasy. If you leave too much fat on the cast iron, it’ll form pools, and you’ll end up with hardened droplets of polymerized oil in your pan.

    Sign up for PopSci’s newsletter and receive the latest science and tech updates to your inbox.

    Cast iron cooking – FAQ

    What is best to cook in cast iron?

    There are plenty of delicious cast iron recipes online, and many foods really shine when using cast iron cookware. These are some of the foods that are best for skillet cooking:

    • Fatty meats. High-fat dishes are not only delicious (hello, bacon!) but they cook evenly in cast iron and keep the seasoning of the pan strong.
    • Grilled sandwiches. The even, high heat you can achieve with a skillet makes a delicious, crispy grilled cheese.
    • Fried chicken/other foods. A cast iron skillet can withstand the high heat and is generally deep enough to fit a few inches of oil and whatever delicious food you’re cooking in it!
    • One-pot dishes. With its easy transfer from stovetop to the oven it’s easy to cook casseroles, mac and cheese, and roasted vegetables or meat in a variety of ways.

    What can you not cook in cast iron?

    Even though cast iron is a versatile piece of cookware, there are certain foods to carefully consider before cooking in cast iron.

    • Spaghetti sauce. Tomato-based sauces like spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce definitely fall into the list of what not to cook in cast iron. The acid in them will cause a trace amount of iron to release from the metal and seep into the food you’re cooking, in turn, leaving your meal tasting slightly metallic.
    • Vinegar/Wine. A splash of lemon juice, wine, or vinegar for flavor is fine to use without causing too much harm, but don’t let them simmer in these liquids or you’ll have to reseason your cast iron sooner rather than later.
    • Pepper and garlic. Seasoning your cast iron pan will create flavorful meals but you’ll want to be careful cooking with strong ingredients. Take into consideration that cooking with garlic, peppers, and some stout cheeses could leave loud flavors that are sure to show up in your meals to come over the next few days.
    • Desserts. Cast iron is versatile and can be a great tool to use when baking desserts. If you plan on using cast iron for your dessert baking, we suggest having a separate pan to keep your flavors spot on. Because cast iron is so porous when it is heated, it tends to take on stronger flavors from the food you have previously cooked in it. This isn’t a bad thing when you’re cooking savory dishes, but you probably don’t want your apple pie to taste like last night’s seafood dinner.
    • Eggs. You won’t want to use brand new cast iron to cook fried or scrambled eggs or omelets. Eggs have a tendency to be very sticky and until you have seasoned your pan thoroughly, you could end up with a burned breakfast scramble or omelet.
    • Pancakes. Pancakes are another food that shouldn’t be cooked in brand new cast iron. If your skillet hasn’t had ample time to build up its nonstick barrier, pancakes are a lost cause.
    • Delicate fish. Delicate fish like trout and tilapia would probably be best cooked in something other than cast iron. Cast iron works best for sturdy foods that won’t fall apart easily while trying to flip or turn them, and the heat that would brown your steak to perfection would consume your flaky flounder.

    Can you ruin a cast iron pan?

    Cast iron is a very hardy piece of cookware. It is possible to ruin it, but it would take a lot of neglect over a long period of time for that to happen.

    As long as you are washing it properly (ie. not in a dishwasher or letting it soak) it should never accumulate more than a surface level rust that can be easily filled off.

    It is also important to be sure that you are not trying to cool it down quickly after it is hot. Pouring cold water over it when it is at a high temperature can cause the iron to warp or crack over time.

    How do I know if I ruined my cast iron pan?

    If you’re new to cast iron cooking and used to non-stick or stainless steel pans, you may not know how your cast iron should look and feel. A well-seasoned cast iron pan should be dark black, shiny, and smooth to the touch. Unseasoned cast iron has a rough look and feel until it is properly seasoned. Here are some sure signs of damage and misuse:

    It’s covered in rust. This is the most common issue with cast iron and unsurprisingly, the culprit is always moisture. Excessive water + cast iron = bad news. The good news is it is fixable and you should not get rid of your pan, but it does require some work to restore the cast iron to its original state.

    It’s cracked. You can crack cast iron by repeatedly heating it up and rinsing with cold water before it has cooled down properly. There have also been rare cases of cold cast iron cracking on electric burners that don’t distribute heat evenly. This phenomenon is called thermal shock, and it happens to rock, glass, and other hard materials.

    It has a hole. It’s incredibly hard to make a hole in cast iron. This would be caused by major misuse, allowing rust to form and deepen. If the rust has created a hole that goes through the pan you should consider investing in a new piece.

    It’s warped. This is another issue that arises from cooking in a pan with extreme temperatures on electric stoves, which tend to heat the pan less evenly than a gas range. The uneven heat causes unevenness in the pan itself, which can make it difficult to use for cooking. This doesn’t mean the death of a dish, but it can be very hard to reverse so it may be time to retire the pan.

    It’s dusty. If your cast iron has been collecting dust in a cupboard unused or looks like it is covered in black residue, it’s absolutely not ruined. Take some coarse salt, mix in a bit of water and use a towel to rub the mixture around. Rinse afterward, and be sure to dry the pan fully with a clean, dry cloth in order to prevent rusting.

    The seasoning got stripped. Although it is frustrating to lose the seasoning, the cookware is still fully usable. It will take some time and effort but you can absolutely re-season your pan. Learn how to season cast iron properly to avoid any mistakes in the future.

    Is it healthy to cook in cast iron?

    We frequently hear people asking the question “Is it good to cook in cast iron?” Cast iron cooking is more than safe. The only “chemical” that leaks off of this type of cookware is iron and doctors occasionally recommend cooking food in cast iron if someone is having problems with their iron levels being too low.

    Dont cook strong flavours back-to-back

    Flavours can also sink into the pan’s seasoning over time, so cooking a fluffy breakfast pancake the morning after a beautiful piece of fish (or garlic and butter-basted steak) may not yield the best results.

    Option 1: Cast-iron is affordable. Consider buying two, and nominate one pan for sweet and one for savoury.

    Option 2: Make sure to add a bit of soap when washing — it won’t hurt. (For hard-stuck on bits, scrub the pan with coarse salt first.)

    Watch: How to clean a cast-iron pan

    Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

    Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered every weekday morning.

    FILED UNDER: Editor’s Picks tools

    Tags

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.