When you get your first cast iron skillet, you’re eager to see how much it can master. Sizzling grilled cheese? Check! Fajitas? Check! You’ll start to eat skillet dishes six nights a week just because you love the flavor and the simplicity. But even Superman has his kryptonite. Here are 5 types of food you should steer clear of in your cast iron skillet.
1. Acidic Foods
Cast iron can’t handle large quantities of acidic foods very well. Acidic foods allow the metal to leach into your foods, but they can also breakdown your seasoning. This means like foods with tomato sauce, vinegar or lemon-based sauces will pick up a metallic taste from the pan. This can happen in as little as a half hour, so if it’s a white wine chicken dish you’re going for, make the marriage of the two quick, or better yet, do it outside the pan or in your slow cooker instead.
2. Sticky foods
The more seasoned you pan is, the more leeway you have with this one. But when you first get your pan, avoid cooking anything sticky in there like scrambled eggs. Even a basic pancake will resist a flip. You’ll end up scrubbing off the substances with soap — which is a big no-no for seasoning.
For the first few months, try to stick with cooking meats and oily foods like bacon and steak. The oils will build up and create a nonstick layer than your other foods will benefit from in the future.
3. Delicate fish
The cast-iron pan is very versatile, but there is one dish it simply can not handle — fish. The delicate nature of flaky white fish fillets like louder and tilapia will stick to the cast iron pan no matter how much butter or oil you add.
If it’s tilapia you’re cooking, your best best is a non-stock pan.
This one isn’t so much a rule as a fair warning. Cooking with cast iron means being aware of what you cooked last since flavors from past meals can be easily picked up into the next. That means that the essence of your skillet shrimp tacos might show up in your giant cast iron chocolate chip cookie.
Unless you want a dessert that tastes like garlic, consider having separate skillets for dinners and desserts.
5. Wet foods
Cast iron might seen indestructible, but a fast way to ruin your pan is to use it to store leftovers. Not only do you run the risk of rusting out the pan, but it also allows the metal to leech into the food. Always remove your foods after cooking and store them in a separate container. Then you can care for your pan, thoroughly dry it and store it away for next time.
Also see, Can you eat moldy bread?