Cast iron skillets have been used in kitchens for decades. However, their popularity has fizzled in recent years, because people believe they are too difficult to keep clean. Well, we happen to think foods taste better when they are prepared in cast iron skillets. Therefore, we are more than happy to maintain our cast iron skillets!
If you have been dreading maintaining your cast iron skillet or simply not purchasing one, because you are too scared to use it, you will be thrilled to know it is easier to use than you think. We are going to share the steps you must know when it comes to using and maintaining your cast iron skillet.
How to Use and Maintain Your Cast Iron Skillet
Cooking with Your Cast Iron Skillet
When you take your cast iron skillet out of storage, you will need to adjust your cooking methods. It is best to allow the heat to build up slowly in your skillet before you even consider adding food to it. Slowly building the heat will ensure your food doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.
It is also important to note that your entire cast iron skillet will become hot when you are using it.
This means you should not even attempt to touch the handle without using a hot pad. You will also want to steer clear of making tomato-based and lemon-based dishes in your cast iron skillet until it is completely seasoned. And even then, you will want to be cautious, because lemon and tomato-based products can break down the seasoning of your pan rather quickly.
Cleaning Your Cast Iron Skillet
There is one main rule when it comes to cleaning your cast iron skillet and that is you must never use soap or steel wool. Anything abrasive will take all your seasoning away and soap will do the same thing. Of course, you should never place your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher either.
It is best to clean your cast iron skillet when it is still warm. Simply fill the skillet with hot water and scrub away any residue by using a sponge or stiff nylon brush. When the food is removed, you will rinse the skillet by using warm water.
If you cannot get certain stuck on foods off your skillet, you can add some kosher salt and a little water to the pan. This will make a paste that will allow you to remove any stuck-on residue.
You should never let your cast iron skillet sit with water in it for any length of time. Any excessive amount of time with water in it can cause your skillet to rust. Therefore, make sure you have time to clean your cast iron skillet every time you go to use it. If you know you won’t have time one night, you may be better off using a different pan instead of taking the chance you are ruining your nicely seasoned cast iron skillet.
As soon as your cast iron skillet is clean, you must dry it completely. You won’t get your skillet completely dry with a towel, so it will be necessary to place it on a burner turned to low. If you do not remove all the moisture from your pan, rust will form, and you will need to work hard to restore your cast iron to use it once again.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Skillet
It can take some time to season your cast iron skillet. Most cast iron skillets state they are pre-seasoned when you purchase them. However, that level of seasoning is not usually the quality you want for a pan you will be using quite often.
When it is time to season your cast iron skillet, or re-season it, all you need is a little oil and heat. Everyone seems to have their own preference when it comes to the oil that is used. We prefer vegetable or canola oil when it comes to seasoning a cast iron skillet. However, you can also use vegetable shortening, olive oil, butter, shortening spray, flaxseed oil, and even bacon fat. No matter what type of oil you use, the seasoning process is the exact same.
Simply place the oil in your cast iron skillet and rub it around the inside and outside of the pan. Every inch of the surface should be covered in oil. Any excess oil should be wiped off, so there is only a thin layer around the skillet. Once your cast iron skillet is oiled, you must place it upside down in your oven. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and bake for an hour.
To prevent oil from dripping down to the bottom of your oven, we recommend placing foil on the shelf below your skillet.
After an hour, turn your oven off and let your skillet sit in the oven until it is cool. You may need to repeat this process a few times to get the glossy look you are looking for on your cast iron skillet.
Care For Well Used Skillet
The more you use your cast iron skillet, the more seasoned it will become. There may be times though when your skillet does lose its seasoning. You will know when that happens, because food will start to stick when you are cooking. Of course, you must also re-season your cast iron skillet if it gets rusty or simply looks dull instead of shiny.
We feel it is always better to re-season our cast iron skillets as soon as we notice a little bit of rust, or the skillet appears dull. We never like waiting until foods begin to stick to the skillet, because it is a lot more work to remove that stuck-on food.
These are the steps you must take to use and maintain your cast iron skillet. Hopefully, you are not as intimidated by your cast iron skillet after reading how easy it is to care and maintain this handy kitchen pan. We recommend you start using your cast iron skillet right away, so you can see how easy it truly is to use this pan that will make your meals taste even better.