Cooking with cast iron is my favorite! It doesn’t have to be daunting and neither does cleaning it. Cue the hallelujah chorus! I often get asked how I clean and season my skillets, so I thought it deserved a tutorial.
First, why cook with cast iron? So glad you asked.
Cast Iron cooks evenly and can replace almost every other pan you have (stay away from boiling water or highly acidic foods in your cast iron (unless it’s enameled) – most everything else – GO FOR IT!)
It’s non-stick AND non-toxic!
You can use metal utensils with cast iron ( I prefer metal and wood – no peeling or cracked rubber utensils for me, please!)
Cast Iron can be used on stove top and in the oven. (I use a gas stove top. Here’s a good article on using cast iron with a glass stove top.)
The more you use it, the better seasoned it gets. So use it often!
Cast Iron is lifetime, hand-me-down quality cookware. How fun would it be to pass down the same pans you cooked meals for your children to them and your grandchildren? The best!
It’s easy to clean. (No, really. It is! Keep reading…)
How To Clean Cast Iron
Scrub shortly after use (if possible) with hot water (NO SOAP!) – I prefer to use a chainmail scrubber called The Ringer. It works like a charm! You can also use a pan scraper. For extra hard messes, you can scrub with salt.
Wipe skillet dry with paper towel or lint free cloth (less lint the better)
Place skillet back on stovetop and heat
Wipe evenly with thin coating of oil (vegetable, canola, flaxseed or coconut), bacon grease or lard (Crisco). Bacon grease is my preferred choice, and I keep a jar on my stovetop at all times (yes, it keeps!), but crisco would be my next best choice. No need to apply too much oil or grease – that can make it sticky. Just a thin, even layer. Sometimes less is better, y’all! This is one of those times.
Heat to smoke point (30-60 seconds). Voila! Your pan is happy and ready to go for its next use.
How to Clean and Re-Season Old Cast Iron
This is one time it’s ok to use soap and steel wool on your cast iron. Scrub and wash thoroughly to remove old residue and/or rust. After clean, apply thin layer of vegetable oil all over skillet (inside and outside). Bake skillet in 450° oven for 1 hour. (Place tin foil or baking sheet under pan to catch any grease that may drip.) Allow to cool and store (see below). It’s ready to use!
How to Store Cast Iron
I prefer to either hang my cast iron or keep it on stovetop at all times. I use it daily and prefer to have it handy. It can be stacked, but do it carefully, placing a paper towel or lint free towel in-between. Flour sack towels would work great!
What Cast Iron to Purchase
Everyone wants to know what cast iron to buy. Most all of my cast iron is old Wagoner or Griswold that’s been handed down from family. They are heirloom pieces that will last several lifetimes if cared for and I love using them. The biggest difference I’ve found in older cast iron and new cast iron is that the inside is smoother – but even new ones can be ground down (my husband has done that!) You can find old cast iron in antique stores – or perhaps an older relative or friends basement. 😉 If you are buying new cast iron, I’d recommend Stargazer. They are made in America, extremely well made and have the smooth bottom I love in my older pans.
Now that you are armed with how to take care your cast iron, get busy using it! One of my favorite things to make in mine is cast iron steaks, but I’ve also got a bunch of one-skillet meals to get you going. The truth is, the more you use it, the more you’ll realize you can use it for and the more you’ll love it. Come back and let me know if you agree!
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