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I see a lot of recipes for chili made in a cast iron pot and a lot of recipes that call for boiling water. My questions are, will boiling water in a CI pot hurt the pot, and I thought you weren't supposed to put tomato-based foods in CI? Can you shed some light on this for me?
 

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It's perfectly okay to make tomato-based foods in CI. Don't let the pot sit very long after the meal though. I only heard this fable about not using CI to cook tomato-y stuff about ten years ago, and I've been cooking chili and spaghetti sauce and all kinds of stuff in my CI for over fifty years now with no damage. So did Mom and Grandma before me. (And guess what, they all washed their CI with soap, too! We're just a bunch of lawless rebels.)

The concern with acidic foods is they may damage the seasoning, but in a well-seasoned pot, that's not a huge concern. Worst case, if you left the stuff in the pot too long and did damage the seasoning, you'd have to re-season, not a huge deal and no damage to the pot. Acidic foods could damage the pot if you left it sitting for days, but of course you won't be doing that. I left a pan sitting dirty overnight once after I did a DO demo at a local state park. I was so tired and having back pain when I got home, I didn't have the energy to clean up, so the pan sat. I didn't think it had acidic food in it, but the next day the seasoning was pretty much all gone from the pan wherever the bars had touched. I had baked oatmeal caramel bars in it, and obviously something didn't like that seasoning. I always meant to reseason but never got around to it, but the seasoning automagically has reappeared just through use. There was no damage to the pan, which is a good thing because it was a brand new Lodge Combo Cooker. I do sometimes leave cooked-on pans soaking overnight with no harm done. And I almost never dry my CI, even when we're camping. I refuse to waste time drying dishes on the grounds it'll happen whether I go to the effort or not. No harm done doing that, either. I told you, we're a bunch of rule-breakers. LOL.

I don't boil water for things like pasta or potatoes in CI just because it's so darn heavy to deal with it when it comes time to drain things. There's really no need for CI's wonderful heat distribution and retention properties for that sort of thing either. Water itself is pretty good at retaining and distributing heat. I use aluminum or stainless steel pots for that kind of task. I do make soups, chili, and stews in cast iron without any problem. I also routinely bake lasagna in my camp DOs when we're camping, and do all kinds of tomato hotdishes in DOs and frying pans, as well as making lid pizzas in DOs or deep dish pizzas in frying pans. In fact, my pizza pan is a 14" round griddle from the 1890s, and sauce does get on it. The only damage to the seasoning so far, after about twenty years of use, is where the pizza cutter repeatedly scores it right in the middle.

My CI would hardly be worth owning if I couldn't make any acidic foods in it. Look at any show featuring chili cook-offs and pay attention to what type of pot all those batches of chili are being cooked in. :) You have nothing to worry about.
 

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I clean mine with boiling water, but don't let it soak. It won't hurt the pot, but it can strip your seasoning.

I don't do tomato based foods because my recipes cook a long time and I often let things like chili or tomato sauce sit over night and I have had it strip the seasoning before.
 
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