The Foods You Should Never Make in a Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets take just about any dish to the next level, due to the skillet's ability to retain heat so well. However, there are a handful of foods that you should never cook in a cast iron skillet for reasons pertaining to both the longevity of the pan and the flavor of your food. Hey, cooking with cast iron can be tricky!
We called upon Chef Patrick Ochs, corporate executive chef at Pubblica Italiana and Dalia at the Celino Hotel, to fill us in on which types of food you should not put in your precious cast iron.
What types of food should you never cook in a cast iron skillet?
"You should never cook any types of acidic foods or sauces in a cast iron skillet," says Ochs. "A few examples include tomatoes, vinegar, and lemons. If cooked in a cast iron skillet, these particular types of acidic foods and sauces will take on a very displeasing metallic taste, which in turn can permanently ruin the flavor of the dish."
Who knew that sautéeing those cherry tomatoes could actually ruin your cast iron pan by stripping off the iron from the pan and displacing it into your food?
Ochs also says that sticky foods, including pancakes, rice, and anything that contains a lot of sugar (like desserts with fruit fillings) should also not be cooked in a cast iron pan—at least until one thing happens.
"Cast iron pans need to be fully seasoned before cooking any of these items," says Ochs. Seasoning your cast iron skillet will help to create a non-stick (and rust-free) surface on the pan, which will help you get more life out of your skillet, all while avoiding putting your health at risk. Ochs says there's also another way to maintain a cast iron skillet's non-stick surface.
"Searing fatty items like meat and bacon for numerous days [can] build a layer on top of the cast iron pan, making it non-stick," he says.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to season your cast iron skillet regularly.
Should you avoid baking certain foods in a cast iron skillet?
"I would stay away from baking certain foods like bread or pastries in a cast iron skillet," says Ochs. "Cast iron skillets have the ability to pick up flavors, fats, and scents from previous cooking uses, which can change the flavor of the dish you plan on cooking. If the cast iron skillet is not properly cleaned, it could also leave black lingering specks in your dish."
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