I grew up watching my grandmother and mother cook on cast iron skillets. I got married young and went the more traditional route with my pans and chose the non stick newer versions. I was highly disappointed with the way the black non stick would flake off and then I learned about the chemicals used in those pans. So, I went on a hunt for a new option and came back to cast iron skillets. So how do you properly care for them?
how to season a cast iron skillet
When you buy a brand new cast iron skillet it will more than likely be black and have a bit of a shine to it. Most cast iron skillets come seasoned from the factory. If yours is not seasoned then it will probably be a gray color instead of the dark black.
To season a cast iron skillet you will need:
Cast Iron Skillet
Paper Towels or Clean Cloth
Place some salt into the bottom of your cast iron skillet and rub it around really well. Wash out the salt with hot water and dry your skillet immediately. Rub your pan down with the oil of your choice (I use olive oil) and then place the skillet upside down in an oven. Heat the pan at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Your pan is now seasoned!
cooking with cast iron
When your pan is brand new avoid using acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar and lemon juice. The acidic food will break down the seasoning of your pan. If you choose to cook with acidic foods then you will need to season your skillet again. The more that you use your cast iron skillet then the more that you are seasoning it. So, use it often!
cleaning cast iron skillets
This is the part that will normally get people when it comes to using cast iron skillets. No dish soap. That is right, no dish soap. Dish soap has a tendency to remove the work that you went through to season your skillet and will leave the pan looking dry and dull. You want shiny and black! So how do you clean them?
After cooking with your cast iron skillet, clean it with hot water and a sponge. I love to use little wood handled scrub brushes like the ones you see below. It works perfectly! If you have food that is really stuck on your skillet then simply pour a little salt into the bottom and scrub until the food comes off. Rinse off with water. You then want to dry your pan really well. You can do this by heating the pan on the stove for a few minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and use a paper towel to rub the pan down with a little bit of oil. You will see it shine! You can then place over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Let cool and your ready to store your skillet.
storing your cast iron skillets
There are several ways you can store skillets. I had mine stored in a cabinet, stacked on top of each other for quite some time. This can be a hassle if you have to move them to get to the one that you need. I recently hung mine in the pantry with these gorgeous hand forged hooks and nails from Axe and Anvil. Not only is this beautiful but it is very functioning. I can easily grab the pan that I need and get busy cooking! Never store cast iron when it is wet. It will rust and you don't want that!
cleaning rusty cast iron skillets
So what about rust? I often see rusty cast iron skillet at yard sales, flea markets and auctions. They can be cleaned up and saved. If it is a small spot of rust then simply use salt to scrub the spot. If it is a really stubborn spot that is not coming off then steel wool can be used to remove the spot. You will then need to go back to step 1 and season the skillet again. What if you have a really rusty skillet? Stick it in the oven and run it through your ovens self cleaning cycle. Then be sure to season the skillet before using.
NEVER put cast iron in a dishwasher or allow to soak in water. This will cause the skillet to rust.
Cast iron skillet do require care. Here are some of my favorite reasons to use.
1. Cast iron skillets are heat conductors and that means that your food will be heated evenly when cooking. If you choose to use your cast iron skillets to put food on the table then your food stays warm longer while you eat. That's always a big bonus for us!
2. Cast Iron is durable. It can pretty much withstand anything. We love to camp and my cast iron skillets go with us. From stove top to oven to camp fire. It is the one pan that can do it all. A well seasoned and cared for cast iron skillet will last for generations.
3. Chemicals. There has been some research that suggests there are harmful chemicals in those non stick pans. You have no worries of that with a cast iron skillet.
4. Cooking with a cast iron skillet increases your iron intake in your food. Did you know that most people are low on iron and it is more common in women? This is a great way to get more iron in your diet.
You can cook just about anything in a cast iron skillet. It is perfect for frying bacon, cooking cornbread, deep dish pizza, pies, fried chicken, cinnamon rolls and even big skillet cookies. And I can't forget the Cast Iron Dutch Oven because hands down it will give you the most delicious roast you have ever tasted!
Have questions? Leave me a comment and I will get back with you.
Thanks for stopping by!