WTSHTF and we enter a new era, daily life will move to a more basic level similar to the “olden days” or life in 3rd world countries. When this happens, nothing will beat cooking with cast iron. Settlers and cattle drivers used it for many reasons, and there are many reasons why YOU should use it, too.
Cost Effective – Compared to hoity toity cookware sold in many stores, cast iron is cheap! It’s plentiful as well. You can find cast iron cookware at many lawn sales and most flea markets for just a few bucks. Because it distributes and holds heat so well, it also requires a tad less fuel. What’s more, it lasts forever.
Rugged – These pots and pans won’t scratch, chip or melt. They’ll withstand extremely high temperatures, and you can clock somebody right upside the dome with a cast iron skillet if you run out of ammo. The fact that it distributes heat so well makes it particularly useful for inconsistent flames – like campfires!
Versatile – You can use your cast iron skillet on the range, in the oven, or directly on campfire coals. You can use it for pan frying, deep frying, roasting and stewing. A basic skillet and Dutch oven will cover most cooking needs.
Taste – Food cooked in cast iron just plain tastes better in many cases.
Health Benefits – Did you know that the non-stick Teflon coating they put on pans (the stuff that always peels off unless you cook with plastic spatulas and such) will actually KILL pet birds? Chemicals, dude. Read about it here. They get released in the air when you heat it up. These pans often come with attached warnings. You’re eating that shit when you cook with it. Cast iron is often associated with high fat foods like rich deserts and bacon (a.k.a. the good stuff), but that’s just because of its “old time” reputation. A properly seasoned, older skillet actually requires LESS oil to cook with than a traditional pan.
ALSO, cooking with cast iron boosts your iron intake, because trace amounts of it gets absorbed by the food. This “iron benefit” will be particularly beneficial WTSHTF. People at risk of iron deficiency are pregnant women, infants and toddlers, teenage girls, and anyone that has suffered blood loss.
Are there DISadvantages to cast iron? Of course, there are disadvantages to everything. It’s heavy. If it’s not properly cared for it may rust. It’s not dishwasher safe (a moot point WTSHTF). You’ll also want to avoid using it for acidic foods such as tomato sauce. The acid reacts with the iron and screws with your seasoning.
Seasoning and Care – New cast iron cookware has a gray tint to it, but a well-seasoned piece is black. You can buy new pieces already seasoned, but if you want to (or need to) season it on your own, heat your oven to 300 degrees, coat the unit in vegetable shortening or lard, put in the oven, remove after 15 minutes to pour out excess grease, and bake for an hour. Repeat as necessary. The more often it’s done, the better it gets. Seasoning (and general use) fills pores in the iron resulting in a protective, non-stick coating (eventually).
One final note: You should never use soap on your cast iron cookware. Use a plastic scouring pad (never steel wool). Store the pans with the cover off so moisture doesn’t build. This “soap savings” will be a big benefit WTSHTF.
Sizzling deer backstraps with succulent onions in Ranger Man’s skillet:
– Ranger Man
Random cast iron skillet trivia:
Lewis and Clark listed their Dutch oven as one of their most critical pieces of equipment.
George Washington’s mother thought so highly of her cast iron that she put it in her will.