Think Twice Before Cooking Tomatoes In Your Cast Iron Skillet

MYTH: You should never cook acidic foods in a cast iron skillet

Acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemons, and wine can be cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron pan for short amounts of time. You can sauté cherry tomatoes in cast iron, but don't try making a long-simmering tomato sauce. If you recently purchased your skillet and it still needs to be "broken in," acidic ingredients can erode the seasoning and even make foods taste metallic.

Seasoning Gets Better Over Time

The more you cook with cast iron, the better that coating gets. Cast iron is best suited for people who want an evolving relationship with their cookware. The process is the point.

For best results, get in the habit of seasoning your skillet after most uses. Routine seasoning isn’t hard, and it doesn’t take a lot of time.

Most new skillets these days come pre-seasoned and ready to use. We’ll get more into seasoning in a bit.

Alison Conklin


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.)

2. Be Aware that a Cast-Iron Surface Takes on Flavors

A cast-iron pan, especially when it's straight out of the box and hasn't been through several rounds of seasoning, has a porous surface that will take on flavor. Even a really well-seasoned pan is more apt to take on flavor than a stainless steel or nonstick pan, especially since we don't recommend cleaning a nonstick skillet with soap for risk of stripping the seasoning. For this reason, you'll want to think twice about making that skillet cookie directly after the salmon from last night's dinner. If you plan on making a lot of desserts in your cast-iron skillet, it might be smart to buy a separate skillet for them. After all, cast-iron skillets are cheap!

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.

MYTH: A skillet that comes seasoned doesn’t need to be seasoned

While you can cook immediately with a preseasoned skillet, it will get the job done better after it acquires a few more layers of seasoning—achieved either through regular use (here's some recipe inspiration) or additional seasoning time in the oven.

WATCH: Gooey, Indulgent Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie


  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1.5 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt to taste

4. Before Your Skillet Is Well-Seasoned, Avoid Sticky Foods

For the first few months that you own a cast-iron skillet (or longer, if you don't use it much) you should avoid cooking foods that are prone to sticking. A French omelet, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and fried rice are all foods that might work well on a shiny, extremely well-seasoned pan, but will likely stick to a newer pan that hasn't been used much. Not only will you over-brown your eggs and have funky-shaped pancakes, but you'll also have to scrub—and, possibly, soap—the skillet to get it clean again, which will strip away the pan's seasoning.

For the first few months of cooking on your skillet, you'll want to set yourself up for success. Cook a lot of steaks and bacon in your new skillet. The fat from these foods will help enhance the coating of hardened fat on the skillet. Eventually, after it has been used to cook fattier foods and washed and cared for properly, your pan's surface will become slicker and more nonstick, and will be able to handle foods like pancakes and eggs.

3 Cast Iron Myths Debunked (Hint: You Dont Have to Worry About Washing it With Soap)

38 related questions found

What is the disadvantage of cast iron?

Cast iron pans are poor conductors of heat: Without getting too nerdy here…a cast iron is good at retaining (keeping) heat, but it isn’t as good as conducting (transmitting) heat. A cast iron pan will heat unevenly if you’re using a burner that’s significantly smaller than the pan itself.

Which is better iron or cast iron?

Cast iron is harder, more brittle, and less malleable than wrought iron. It cannot be bent, stretched, or hammered into shape, since its weak tensile strength means that it will fracture before it bends or distorts. It does, however, feature good compression strength.

How should tomatoes be cooked?

Tomatoes can be broiled, roasted, stewed, sautéed, fried, and cooked in other food dishes. After cooking, tomatoes can be eaten on their own as a side dish or appetizer. They can also be added to sauces, soups, stews and other savory dishes.

How do I cook healthy tomatoes?

Simply set cherry tomatoes (with vine-attached) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in centre of oven at 400ºF (200ºC) until slightly tender. Serve warm alongside roasted chicken or fish.

Can you cook eggs in cast iron?

The best way to ensure eggs wind up on your plate—rather than your scrub brush—is to properly heat and oil your skillet. … But don’t worry, cast iron makes the perfect egg no matter how you like them done!

Can I boil pasta in cast iron?

“Folks, this is one of my #1 tips for cast iron and the reason a lot of folks have trouble with their seasoning! I don’t ever boil water in cast iron (soups, pasta, beans) because constantly boiling water causes the seasoning to release on the iron. For such dishes, just use a bean pot or other non cast iron piece.”

Can you put butter in a cast iron skillet?

Do not use olive oil or butter to season your cast-iron pan — they’re great to cook with, just not for initial seasoning. … For a seasoning bonus, cook bacon, thick pork chops or a steak in the pan for its first go-round.

Does food taste better in cast iron?

Foods taste better in cast iron, and those skillets, Dutch ovens and muffin pans can be used for more recipes than you might expect. … Foods with longer cooking times, those that are stirred often and acidic foods like tomato sauce are better at leaching out more iron from the pan.

Can you ruin a cast iron pan?

Famously durable, these pans are often passed down through generations. With proper reseasoning care, years of frequent use can actually improve the pan’s “seasoning”—its natural nonstick coating. But sadly, cast iron skillets can indeed break.

Are cooked tomatoes healthy?

The cooking process increases the antioxidant activity in tomatoes, which can offer you certain health benefits. Cooked tomatoes are low in calories and fat and supply you with a good dose of protein and fiber. They’re easy to incorporate into your healthy eating plan too.

Is it better to eat tomatoes raw or cooked?

Tomatoes release a cancer-fighting antioxidant when cooked. Tomatoes certainly have many health benefits when eaten raw. … According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tomatoes release more lycopene (a cancer-fighting antioxidant) when cooked.

How many fresh tomatoes can you eat a day?

To make the tomatoes count as one of your five-a-day, the NHS recommends eating one medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes as one portion. It’s completely safe to eat a portion of tomatoes everyday and as an added bonus they are low in calories and have a high water content.

Why you should never eat tomatoes?

Tomatoes are packed with an alkaloid called solanine. Consistent research shows that excessive consumption of tomatoes can result in swelling and pain in the joints as they are packed with an alkaloid called solanine. The Solanine is responsible for building up calcium in the tissues and it later leads to inflammation.

Does boiling tomatoes remove nutrients?

You may know that the more you cook a food, the more you destroy its nutrients, but is that true for tomatoes? Not exactly. In fact, some nutrients increase when you cook tomatoes, while others drop off.

Do tomatoes lose nutrients when cooked?

One study found that while cooking decreased the amount of vitamin C in tomatoes, the cooking process increased levels of antioxidants that could be absorbed by the body, including levels of lycopene, the carotenoid plant pigment that helps protect the body from free radical damage.

Is cast iron healthier than non stick?

The Theory: The better you season your cast iron, the more non-stick it becomes. … That said, macho posturing aside, so long as your cast iron pan is well seasoned and you make sure to pre-heat it well before adding any food, you should have no problems whatsoever with sticking.

What cast iron Cannot Weld?

This depends on microstructure and mechanical properties. For example, grey cast iron is inherently brittle and often cannot withstand stresses set up by a cooling weld.

How can you tell if cast iron is real?

A real cast iron skillet should be all one piece – no seams and no screwed on handles. Check the pan’s surface. It should look the same as the rest of the pan with no other materials. A raw cast iron pan will have a dull black/dark grey color and be slightly rough to the touch.

Are cast iron frying pans healthy?

Cast iron isn’t all about frying True, a cast-iron skillet is an excellent vehicle for frying. But its ability to retain heat also lends itself to healthy cooking, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a Vermont-based registered dietitian and nutrition coach.

Is cooking in cast iron bad for you? Answer: Yes, cooking in a cast iron skillet can add significant amounts of iron to your food and into your body… if you eat it. This was proven by researchers who tested 20 foods, the results of which were published in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.


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