I switched from nonstick to cast iron cookware three years ago, and I haven't looked back. Now I have three frying pans and two Dutch ovens. I do still have one nonstick griddle, because pancakes made on cast iron make me gag (I have no idea why).
I make everything in my cast iron, from scrambled eggs to brown rice to no-knead bread.
When I first switched, I thought I would hate having to wash it by hand. It still isn't my favorite task, but I love its benefits so much that I am willing to do it—and I've figured out some ways to make the washing easier, like, say, washing the pan immediately instead of letting the food dry on overnight. Sometimes my husband even washes it. :)
Reasons I love using cast iron:
- I have not had low iron since I switched. Making acidic foods in cast iron, such as tomato sauces, and foods that stick a bit, such as eggs, can help more iron get into your food.
- It will never wear out or break—well, I'm not sure about my enameled Dutch ovens—they have a couple of chips—but I know for sure that my Lodge frying pans will last pretty much forever.
- It holds heat well, so it cooks better than my other cookware. My Dutch ovens turn out perfect rice every time!
- No questionable chemicals or flakes of nonstick coating in our dinner.
- It goes from stovetop to oven with no problems. (This is why I am so happy with my Ikea Dutch ovens over the much more expensive Le Creusets—their plastic knobs can't take high oven heat. Mine have enameled metal knobs.)
- Try not to soak unless you absolutely have to. It ruins the seasoning. Also don't leave sitting in a wet sink—it will start to rust.
- Clean as soon as possible after use. Sometimes I even have to hold the handle with a hotpad while I clean it, but the stuff usually comes right off while it's still hot. Be careful, obviously, of the hot pan and of the steam that comes off it. When I do this, I can often put the pan back on the still-hot burner and save myself having to remember to turn off the heat when it's dry.
- If you dry your cast iron on the stove, set a timer when you turn the heat on to help you remember to turn it back off.
- Don't use soap unless you really need it—it will break down the oily coating that keeps food from sticking.
- Lightly oil the pan after it's dry and still warm, if it needs it. I try to oil it if it's looking particularly dull, especially after I cook something acidic in it. I used to use a paper towel to spread the oil around, but now I use a tissue, because it's cheaper and less waste. Works for me.