Can you cook tomato sauce in cast iron pan?

Canning tomato sauce vs raw tomatoes

The biggest reason in favor of canned tomato sauce for me is that I don’t have to add a stupidly large – USDA recommended – amount of acid to my tomatoes that makes them so acidic that you can’t eat them without a good amount of tums or zantac. Yes, USDA tells you that you must add bottled lemon juice or citric acid when canning tomatoes. Even when pressure canning them. That’s for safety reasons, I get it.

What I don’t get is why they don’t offer a reasonable alternative where you can test the acidity with a quality pH meter and skip the citric acid if the pH is below 4.6. My guess is that they don’t trust the average home cook with a pH meter. Well, if you don’t want to go there, there is another way – can tomato sauce instead. Tomato sauce is cooked before canning which, without going into boring details, makes it safe to can without the added acid, unlike canning raw tomatoes.

I also like the idea of making a large batch of tomato sauce once instead of small batches on dozens of separate occasions. You kind of have to when the harvest comes and you have to process a bunch of tomatoes at once. Even if you don’t grow your own tomatoes like I do, buying tomatoes for canning when they are in season makes a lot of financial sense and they taste their best too.

Anyway, there are many reasons in favor of canning

Anyway, there are many reasons in favor of canning tomato sauce as opposed to whole, halved or diced tomatoes, and few, if any, against it.

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How do you maintain Staub?

An enameled coating on the cast iron of every Staub pan make them a breeze to clean—and Staub recommends that you hand-wash them, rather than running them through the dishwasher, to preserve the patina and brightness. After drying, you can brush the inside with a little vegetable oil to maintain the black matte finish.

Doesn’t Warp

Ever wonder how Grandma’s cast iron skillet still looks the same as when she used it decades and decades ago? One of the wonders of cast iron is that it doesn’t warp over time when repeatedly exposed to high temperatures.

Many traditional pots and pans can lose their shape, as exposure to heat and use over time molds the shape of the pan, yet cast iron continues to look exactly the same.

To be perfectly honest, cast iron is warp resistant – I’ve seen an old skillet that had a bit of a warped bottom. It was an old Wagner 1058.

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.)

Which is better Staub or Le Creuset?

The main difference is Le Creuset gets stained and dingy looking with use, and the Staub gets better with use. It’s interior develops a seasoning and becomes more and more nonstick. Staub also sears much better. I don’t want to worry whether cooking something is going to stain my pot.

Canning tomato sauce

The good thing about pressure canning tomato sauce is that you don’t need to pre-sterilize your jars. Just make sure that they are clean.

You can use either pint or quart jars here. Fill them with the hot tomato sauce, leaving a one-inch headspace. Wipe the rims with a wet paper towel, cover with lids and tighten the bands finger-tight.

Process pint jars in a pressure canner for 60 minu

Process pint jars in a pressure canner for 60 minutes at 10 lb weighted gauge for 0 – 1000 ft elevations above sea level and 15 lb weighted gauge for elevations above 1000 ft. Process quart jars for 70 minutes at the same pressure levels.

Delicate foods are a no-go

No matter how well-seasoned, your cast-iron pan will never truly be non-stick. Delicate dishes and ingredients — a thin filet of tilapia, or an omelette — will more often than not fall apart or stick.

If cooking sunny-side up eggs, never crack them into a cold pan (a handy tip for all your cast iron cooking) because ingredients thrown into an unheated pan will stick as the iron warms up. Once heated you’ll still need to add oil before the eggs go in to ensure 100 percent fuss-free results.

Ingredients

  • 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

3. Dont Cook Delicate Fish In Cast Iron

Cast-iron skillets are beloved for their ability to retain heat—all the better for getting that perfect browned crust on a steak. But this same asset is a liability when it comes to more delicate meats that won't stand up to heat as well. Flaky white fish like flounder or tilapia are at risk of falling apart and not flipping well when cooked in cast iron. Even with heartier fish like salmon, the skin is likely to stick to the cast-iron surface, making flipping difficult. Instead, cook your fish in a stainless-steel nonstick skillet.

How to Clean and Season Cast IronView Story

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.

How to Season Cast Iron

I’d be lying if I said I seasoned my cast iron every time I used it. Routine seasoning after most uses is probably good enough.

Here’s how to do it: once your skillet is clean, set it on the stove over high heat until it’s dry. Add a small amount of oil—less than a teaspoon—and smear it around well with a paper towel or clean, lint-free rag. Take it off the burner. If it looks especially greasy still, wipe it out again. That’s it!

The seasoning on your skillet isn’t permanent. It can ebb and flow, depending on what you cook. Frying and sautéing, which involve heating oil, build the seasoning up. But after simmering liquids in your skillet, the seasoning will be duller and more vulnerable to rust. Dry-searing in your skillet—as well as unintentionally burning food—can also wear down the seasoning.

When your skillet isn’t looking like its normal self, give just it some extra love and a good massage with oil as described above. Think of it as its stint at the Skillet Spa.

Alison Conklin

The Myth: When you cook in a cast-iron skillet, your food will absorb a lot of extra iron so you can effectively supplement your diet by using this type of pan

THE TESTING: We simmered tomato sauce in a stainless-steel pan and in seasoned and unseasoned cast-iron pans. We then sent samples of each sauce to an independent lab to test for the presence of iron. The unseasoned cast iron released the most molecules of metal. The sauce from this pot contained nearly 10 times as much iron (108 mg⁄kg) as the sauce from the seasoned cast-iron pot, which contained only a few more milligrams than the sauce from the stainless-steel pot.

THE TAKEAWAY: Since this occurs in pronounced amounts only with unseasoned skillets, which you wouldn’t use for cooking, we don’t consider this an issue. A seasoned cast-iron skillet will not leach any appreciable amount of iron into food cooked in it.

Step 1: Clean the cast iron skillet

Your first step to reseason a cast iron skillet is to make sure you wash it well. In most cases, gently washing with warm, slightly soapy water is all you need to clean your cast iron pans. To get off stubborn bits, try scrubbing with some coarse salt and a paper towel.

Our iron skillet needed to be cleaned and reaseaso

Our iron skillet needed to be cleaned and reaseasoned. I scrubbed it with coarse salt and a paper towel for a quick and easy fix.

For very dirty pans, you can use a firm bristled brush or even steel wool in extreme cases. Intense scrubbing like this will remove any seasoning on the pan, so take care to follow the rest of the steps here to reseason your cast iron skillet after scrubbing it in this way.

Trying to clean a rusty cast iron pan?

Here’s a natural method for removing rust from cast iron pots and pans:  Mix 1 part molasses with 9 parts water (that’s about 1.5 cups of molasses per gallon of water). Pour the mixture into and/or around the rusty pan, and let it soak for 3 weeks in a warm location.

After 3 weeks, just scrub the pan with a cast iron pan brush or coarse salt.

I know that sounds crazy, but the molasses solution will actually break down the rust so you can scrub it out just like that!

After washing your iron pans, always dry them completely

The most important step in cleaning a cast iron pan is making sure to wipe it dry completely. If there’s still a bit of moisture on your skillet, heat it on the stovetop to let it completely dry out.

Step 2: Apply oil all over your skillet

Now we’re ready to apply oil all over your skillet. That includes the cooking area, the sides, the bottom, and the handle. Using a paper towel, make sure the oil is applied to every nook and cranny of your cast iron skillet.

Remember, we’re trying to protect the skillet from reacting with air to form rust, so it’s important to get some oil on every part of the skillet.

When you’ve applied the oil correctly, your skillet should look not be dripping with oil. If there are puddles of oil on your pan, wipe the excess oil off with a paper towel.

Which oil should you use to season a cast iron skillet?

Many home cooks simply use vegetable oil, bacon grease, or lard to season cast iron. Organic vegetable oil is a non-gmo option. Although technically you can use any cooking oil for seasoning a skillet, some say that flaxseed oil is the best oil to reseason cast iron.

I used flaxseed oil to reseason our cast iron skil

I used flaxseed oil to reseason our cast iron skillet.

You don’t have to reseason cast iron with flax oil, but the rationale is that the properties of flaxseed oil have a chemical reaction that forms the most protective barrier for cast iron pans. (source)

But I wouldn’t go running out to the store to buy some new oil just to reseason cast iron pans. Just use what you have on hand.

Step 3: Reseason the cast iron pan in the oven

First, place some aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven just in case any oil drips off the pan (but it really shouldn’t because you don’t need that much oil). Then preheat your oven as hot as it goes – usually 450F.

Place the oil coated cast iron skillet upside down on the top oven rack.

Leave the skillet in the oven for 30 minutes to one hour. Pull your skillet out of the oven and repeat the oiling and baking up to 3 more times.

Hopefully, you don’t need me to remind you to be careful during this step as your pan is super hot!

The more layers of oil you bake onto your skillet, the better the protective coating on your pan will be

When you’ve completed the last round of oiling and baking, turn off the oven and let your pan cool inside. Don’t use it for cooking until the pan is completely cooled down.

Tips and tricks for cooking with cast iron pans

Tips and tricks for cooking with cast iron pans

Go through this process to reseason a cast iron skillet whenever you notice that bits of cooked food are getting stuck to the pan or you notice grey colored spots.

Clean your cast iron pan after every use. You may choose to simply wipe your pan or gently scrub it with a brush and warm water. Usually, you won’t need to use any soap to get the pan adequately clean.

Always. Always. Always completely dry off your cast iron cookware after cleaning.

Acidic substances like tomato sauce can damage cast iron if it’s not seasoned well. Avoid simmering acidic sauces in cast iron for long periods of time. We cook tomato sauce in our skillet all the time, so just keep an eye on it and reseason as needed.

Sometimes, the cast iron will take on the flavor of cooked items. Beware of cooking fish in your cast iron pans.

Use only wooden spoons and the like when cooking in your cast iron pans. Sharp edges on forks, knives, and kitchen tongs can damage the seasoned coating.

Things you should never do with cast iron cookware

Never ever put your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher or the microwave!

Cast iron is not a good choice for food storage. Don’t try to hold or freeze food in cast iron pans.

Don’t boil water in cast iron pans. It will degrade the seasoning.

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