Taking Care of Cast Iron
The trusty cast iron skillet is a kitchenware staple that’s served us during the Pioneer days, countless conflicts, and every camping trip that was worth its while. For a cast iron to continue to serve us for many years, however, its owner must take care of it.
Cast iron is a resilient material, so maintenance on it really boils down to just two things: Seasoning and cleaning your cast iron skillet. Here’s how to do these things the right way!
Seasoning your skillet
Grease it up
Serious Eats explains that the seasoning process is actually pretty simple. All you need to do is pour a small amount of fat (typically, unsaturated oils like canola) into the skillet, and then thoroughly buff it until there’s no longer a greasy surface. It’s also important to season the entire thing, handle and underside included. The oils you rub into the skillet will polymerize when you cook; in other words, they’ll basically fuse with the metal and create a highly utilitarian nonstick, protective coating.
Once there’s a thin layer of oil on the surface of your pan, give it a double check to make sure there aren’t puddles of oil anywhere. Any excess oil will become sticky and could potentially damage the seasoning when it’s heated. When the skillet is ready, Real Simple advises you bake the skillet in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. Afterward, you’re ready to cook!
Cleaning your cast iron
As soon as possible
Once you’re finished cooking with your cast iron, try to clean it up as soon as possible. If you let a cast iron cool off with food scraps inside of it, they might cling to the pan or ruin your seasoning. Taste of Home suggests pouring a small amount of water into the skillet and allowing it to cool off before hand-washing in the sink.
Tools of the trade
For most jobs, a paper towel will do just fine. In the event that there’s some particularly stubborn food stuck to your pan, Cook’s Illustrated recommends the use of a nylon brush or other non-metal cleaning tool. You can also use soap in your skillet if it looks like that might be necessary, but just remember to thoroughly rinse the skillet afterward. Finally, rubbing a little bit of oil back into the skillet’s interior will keep it in excellent condition for a lifetime.
Ready to start cooking? Check out our blog post on Cooking In Your Cast Iron Skillet for helpful tips and tricks!