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Jane Says: Ditch Your Nonstick Cookware for Cast Iron

Stuff you should know about cast iron cookware:

My pans are old and made by manufacturers such as Lodge, Wagner, and Griswold. They all happen to be so well seasoned they are as slick and impermeable as a politician's grin. If you want that patina, troll yard sales or online sources until you find the sizes you're looking for. I've only used the “preseasoned” cookware made by Lodge a couple of times, and it seems to work fine. And even though you won't be able to pretend it's a family heirloom, it certainly makes the mere idea of cast iron more approachable to someone who's unsure about how to season a pan properly or who simply wants a frittata for lunch. Today.

There is a real mystique about cleaning cast iron. Personally, I think all that business about wiping it out, then filming it with oil until you use it again is disgusting. Guess what happens? Unless you use that pan all the time, the oil coating is going to turn rancid. Aside from tasting vile, rancid oil forms free radicals in the body, and we all know by now that those are harmful. I'll take a modern-day nonstick pan over rancid oil any time.

So how do I clean my cast iron? I wash it, very gently, with dish detergent . (I have wanted to confess this unorthodoxy for years.) That said, I don't use an abrasive scrubby, and would never let cast iron soak or sit in the sink for hours or put it in the dishwasher. After washing, I work it over with a kitchen towel, then put it in the oven to get dry as a bone.

Stuff you should know about enamel-coated cast iron cookware:

I try not to name-drop, but it's no secret. It's not nearly as sexy, mysterious, or inexpensive as unadorned cast iron, which is why I'm not giving it the same amount of space. But its signature pale interior allows you to easily gauge the doneness of whatever you're cooking, and unlike cast iron, it won't react to an acidic tomato or fruit sauce, giving it an off flavor or unappealing color. And I never ever get tired of how it cleans up like a dream. The only tough part is having to pick a color.

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