Here's What Acidic Food Can Do To Your Cast Iron Pan

If you recently bought or received this kitchen tool, one of the first things you should learn is how to properly season your cast iron pan. Although it might come as a surprise, it is in fact possible to overseason your cast iron, and one sign of this is oil pooling around the edge of the skillet. While you're picking up on the ins and outs of cooking with cast iron, you might hear that you should avoid cooking acidic food in a cast iron skillet.

According to America's Test Kitchen, this is because cooking acidic foods can loosen some of the metals in the pan, which can then get into your food. This isn't necessarily harmful to your body, but it can affect the taste of your food. But America's Test Kitchen cooked tomato sauce in a cast iron to see how long it would take for the sauce to have a lingering metallic taste, and this took 30 minutes.

A metal taste in your meal is unsavory, but there's also another reason you shouldn't cook acidic foods in a cast iron. Epicurious explains that the acid can deteriorate the pan's seasoning. But if you love lemons and tomatoes, don't worry — there are situations where you can add acid to your cast iron pan to make your dish shine while maintaining the quality of the cookware.

Here's when you can add a splash of acid to your dish in a cast iron pan

According to Food and Wine, it's more about the amount of time you cook acidic ingredients in your pan rather than whether you should avoid acid completely. While you shouldn't leave acidic foods simmering in your pan for hours, there are situations where you can cook tomatoes in a cast iron pan. To ensure there's no damage to the cookware, make sure your pan is properly seasoned, and temper the acidity of the tomatoes with sugar or baking soda. Even when you're cooking without a cast iron pan, baking soda is the pantry staple that will make your tomatoes less acidic.

Plus, don't be afraid of adding a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up your dish. Real Simple says that you don't need to hesitate before adding some lemon juice or wine, so if your meal calls for these ingredients, this isn't a problem at all.

Need more inspiration for what you can cook in your cast iron pan? Here are some of the best recipes to try with a cast iron skillet, from delicious dips to a giant gooey chocolate chip cookie.