Monday, May 24, 2010

The Absolute Beginners Guide to Learning How To Cook for Survival: Part 2 Pots and Pans

Now we turn to pots and pans. While ceramic and large rocks have been the traditional standard for thousands of years, I am going to stick to the major modern materials: cast iron, aluminum, steel, glass, and ceramic. 

Cast iron is simple and durable. Can go from freezer to oven without complaint. Plenty of grandparents have passed their cookware down to their granddaughters and beyond. Cast iron can rust, this can be countered somewhat with proper seasoning (see manufacturers instructions). Another downside is that it is reactive, therefore generally bad for cooking high acid foods in for long periods of time, this will affect the color and taste of your food, though a good seasoning mitigate that. This can be countered by coating the cast iron with enamel giving it an impervious surface. Cast iron is very heavy this is good because that means it will hold on to a lot of heat that it can transfer into the food, but hard to maneuver because of its weight. Cast iron is a slow conductor which makes the pan slow to preheat and slow to cool. 
A cast iron pan is ideal for searing a steak and a cast iron pot is ideal for baked beans, chili and pot roast. An enameled cast iron pot is ideal for high acid foods like tomato sauce and onion soup.
Clean then with kosher salt and a scrubbie. Do not use soap, it will strip off the seasoning and flavor the pan.