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Is seasoned cast iron vegan?

October 13, 2009

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Growing up, we used Telfon frying pans a lot in my mum’s kitchen. Back then, hardly anyone questioned the safety of the compounds used in non-stick cookware. And I didn’t think too much of it when one frying pan we used began to peel – I simply picked the little black bits of Teflon out of my food.

Vegan Brunch.

Vegan Brunch.

It’s been several years now since I’ve used a non-stick cookware in my own kitchen, and I’ve never been able to get the hang of not having my pancakes and French toast stick to my frying pans. When I got my mitts on Isa’s Vegan Brunch, I was so excited about trying the Banana Rabanada (Brazillian French Toast). And just when I thought that all my French toast dreams were about to come true, I tried to flip my bread and half of each of the slices stuck to the pan. So much for Sunday morning breakfast. I was pretty sulky.

I was gifted a lovely enameled frying pan a few years back that I thought would be the answer to my sticky woes. Alas, though the directions said never to use the pan on heat above medium, apparently even the medium-low setting on my stove was too much for the pan. It didn’t stay non-stick for long. And at a whopping $40 each, eco-friendly ceramic non-stick pans aren’t so eco-friendly if I have to keep buying them.

Crepes, fluffy pancakes, tofu omelets, latkes, hashbrowns, pretty much anything that sticks to a pan is out of the question in my kitchen. And so, I was seriously thinking of going back to the dark side again, even if it meant using a non-stick pan only once a week (knowing me, it’d be a lot more than that despite my intentions).

I’d heard of the benefits of using cast iron cookware (and particularly how it benefits people with anemia), but it was only recently that someone told me that cast iron could become non-stick. For various reasons I’ve waffled quite a bit about buying a cast iron frying pan. Cast iron is also expensive and darn heavy for the size I would want to have. And, I once washed several of a friend’s cast iron pans with soap and water and wondered later on why they all rusted. So I wasn’t sure I was up for caring for one of these pans.

Original Lodge cast iron.

Original Lodge cast iron.

Curious to know about how to season a pan, and I came across some information about the various kinds of fats used by companies selling pre-seasoned pans. Not all of these fats are vegan, and a quick Google search with “vegan seasoned cast iron” doesn’t turn up a lot of helpful info. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware is the brand I’ve come across most often in stores around Vancouver, and considering how many vegans use this brand (and others) I was really concerned about the vegan-friendliness of Lodge’s seasoning fat.

I was about to send the company an e-mail when I decided to check out their FAQs on the care and use of their products. This is what they have to say about the oil used to pre-season their cookware:

What type oil is used to season Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron?

We use a proprietary soy-based vegetable oil to season our cookware.  This oil has been Orthodox Union Kosher certified.  The oil contains no animal fat or peanut oil.  The seasoning is functional application  and slight inconsistencies may appear in the seasoning finish. The inconsistencies will not affect cooking performance.

Phew! It’s vegan friendly, and I’m not gonna quibble about whether or not the soy oil is non-GMO. Once I get my frying pan, hopefully several weeks of intense use and seasoning will get it halfway toward non-stick heaven.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2009 1:35 am

    What a great post, I’ve never considered cast iron but now I know to check what oils they’ve been seasoned with when I make the switch.

  2. October 14, 2009 2:51 am

    I have a regular Lodge cast iron pan and their grill pan. The regular pan became non-stick surprisingly quickly and I’ve had no rust issues or anything (I don’t soap mine). The grill pan has been a little trickier and I’ve had to scrub and reseason it a couple of times because the little ridges are hard to clean. I still think they’re both definitely worth the cost (and I ordered them online so I wouldn’t have to carry them home!). Good luck with your new cookware!

  3. October 14, 2009 8:52 am

    Great post…thank you!

  4. October 14, 2009 10:27 am

    My mom used to use cast iron and so that’s my number 1 choice. I love it and it’s basically indestructable. I also have a big cast iron stew pot, it’s heavy but you can also put it in the oven.

  5. October 14, 2009 4:23 pm

    I have several cast iron pieces I like: an 8″ skillet, a dutch oven, two corn stick pans (all Griswold) and a muffin pan. But I have a 10″ cast iron skillet labeled “Favorite Piqua Ware” that gathers dust in my basement because it cooks so unevenly. I suspected as much, and then one day I cooked four pancakes in it and the parts in the center were burning while the parts on the outside were still goopy. Goodbye!

    I was surprised because I had heard that cast iron cooks so evenly. This one seems a little thinner/lightweight. So brand might make a difference.

    I bought an IKEA nonstick skillet and I love it, but I’ll keep my eye out for a Griswold 10″ at tag sales.

  6. Amy permalink
    October 15, 2009 2:39 pm

    I grew up in the south where no one ever used anything but cast-iron. Since then, I went non-stick like everyone else and just went back to cast-iron about 2 years ago. Specifically, I got a large Lodge skillet with sloped sides that I’ll be using when I’m 80. I highly recommend those sloped sides. They make it easier to clean, easier to slip food in and out of, and I can even use the pan like a wok if I don’t cook a lot. I never have any trouble with my vegan omelets or anything else sticking to it.

  7. October 17, 2009 7:09 am

    Thank you, everyone, for your awesome comments! I feel silly for ever thinking that cast iron was not a good choice for me. I’ll do a post on my cast-iron nirvana when I have a few things to show for it.

  8. guest2010 permalink
    July 29, 2010 12:30 pm

    i just bought IKEA FAVORIT grill pan for $40 and ised it a few times. First time i followed directions 250ml milk + 1tbs vegetable oil, boiled. Then washed with water, dried on stovetop. Did not oil or spray the grill. First thing i cooked was beef steak marinated in teriyaki sauce/marinade. Steak came out good but marinade got burnt and superglued to the grill. I had to soak it in water and dishwashing soap. Then dried on stovetop. The next day i boiled vinegar + baking soda and the remaining marinade flaked off. I had to use plastic to remove some of it.

    Now there’s rust on the top wall edges, but not inside. I don’t think this grill is preseasoned or rust-proof. It may have enamel coating. Is there anything i can do to remove rust or should i get something better?

  9. Nancy permalink
    January 13, 2012 4:10 am

    I just purchased a cast iron dutch oven yesterday I was hoping to make soups & pots of beans or wheatberries. Now i am thinking cooking things that are liquid are not good because of the cast iron. Thoughts on this would be great.

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