cast iron - now what?
I just purchased a 5 qt. cast iron covered pot - I do not own any other cast iron cookware - I thought I would be making my sauces, stews and curries (most are tomato based) but in doing some research about seasoning the pot I have discovered it is not a good idea to cook acidic food in cast iron - what's left?
Is this true?
Thanks for any advice.
I use my dutch oven for all sorts of stews, chilis, casseroles and the like. Great for no-knead bread.
My guess is that most of what you have in mind will work as long as you keep the seasoning intact. I find that popping a batch or two of popcorn in between does wonders for the seasoning.
You can cook acidic food in your cast iron dutch oven, but acidic solution does slowly dissolve the seasoning surface. So there are two options for you.
Make sure you do not cook acidic food consecutively, so you are not continuously thinning the seasoning surface.
If you must cook acidic foods all the time, then you can re-season your Dutch oven every once awhile. In other words, since your foods are going to deplete your seasoning surface, you will need to replenish it one way or another. So the re-seasoning it will do just that.
In addition, make sure you do not leave the acidic based foods in your Dutch oven any longer than necessary. After you finished cooking, transfer the foods to another container. Do not let the acidic foods sit in there for hours.
As I mentioned on another thread, I have a treasure: a circa 1900 Favorite Piqua Ware #9 dutch oven, that I bought at a little ol' flea market in southern Iowa 20 years ago. I cook chili in it frequently...and often that's the Midwestern style chili, with tomatoes. I cook black eyed peas with tomatoes and ham hocks in it...I make beef pot roasts and add a little wine or balsamic vinegar. BUT I don't cook acidic recipes that are low-fat and with a very high proportion of acid foods to base foods in the pot. I've never had to re-season it, because I vary these recipes with things like slow-roasted pork shoulder roast, pinto beans, and so forth....they are fattier and refurbish the seasoning after its bout with the acid foods.
The dutch oven is glorious, now: black as coal, shiny as glass, and all I need to clean it is a five minute soak in hot water, followed by a scrub with a plastic tuffy, even after the most baked on, burnt on cooking sessions.
I realise that the perceived wisdom is not to use acids in CI. I use the 'hot' seasoning method. (ie oven at 500 or bbq ) and as far as I can see it has no effect. The glass-like carbon layer seems almost totally inert. I use soap, stainless steel scrubbers and acidic foods and nothing seems to affect them, nor the non-slippiness.
I don't advise others to do the same. Just saying it works for me.
A little sodium bicarbonate in tomato sauce will reduce its acidity, but it does leave me with a metallic taste. Most other people do not perceive this flavour as much as I.
I season hot, too...usually between 450 and 550.... It's just so damned much work, what with all the wiping and turning and wiping and worrying about getting burned, that I don't want to risk my finish--especially when I have comparable Le Creuset dutch ovens and fry pans, to use instead.
LONG ago I do remember a very acidic dish totally stripping the finish off a frying pan, but that was so long ago I don't remember whether I seasoned it properly, or not. ;-)
It's not so much that it's not a good idea to cook tomato based foods, it just requires more of a seasoning on the CI to withstand the acidic reduction of the existing seasoning on the CI. If it were me, not knowing if you're a carnivore or can only eat low fat, etc, I would start out by maybe frying some chicken, then a beef stew where you braise the beef in the CI to create a deeper seasoning of the CI. Then, before cooking whatever tomato based recipe you choose, I would heat up the CI, lay down a layer of of crisco, continue to heat, add a little more oil or butter, then the recipe ingredients.
I've sworn off non-stick for the past year and a half, and love my CI. It's more work than modern cookware, but I like it.