How To Season And Care For A Cast Iron Skillet
My Cast Iron skillet has seen a lot of love over the years of regular use. From sizzling steaks to homemade flour tortillas, this cast-iron pan has seen it all, but you’d never know by looking at it because all it needs is proper care.
Why? Just like your favorite risotto recipe, your Cast Iron pan needs to be well seasoned and cared for.
Unlike stainless steel, you can’t just stick the cast-iron skillet in the dishwasher or soak it in a little soap and warm water until you feel like giving it a deep scrub. You’ve got to give it some love and attention.
Yes, Cast Iron pans can be a bit more high maintenance to use, but the reward is worth it. In return, they’ll crust your steak to perfection and gently toast your tortillas as though it was a Mexican brick oven.
Why Use Cast Iron?
Cast Iron cookware is in it for the long haul. You can easily use the same brand-new pans you received at your bridal shower to cook your own granddaughter’s welcome home dinner, some 40 off years later.
Iron skillets are also versatile. It can be used on the stove top as well as in the oven. Unless you’re using an expensive dutch oven, most household pans aren’t designed for use in the oven as they can’t stand the high temperature.
Finally, say goodbye to pancakes that are undercooked on one side and charred on the other. Cast Iron provides an even heating element making it simple to cook a variety of foods which require even cooking.
How To Season A Cast Iron Pan
You MUST season your Cast Iron pan prior to first use and on the occasion when you see the seasoning coating wearing off. This creates a non stick surface or coating on the pan’s surface and prevents rusting.
To start the seasoning process of your Cast Iron pan, turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Apply a thin layer (about a teaspoon of oil) of vegetable shortening or cooking oil (vegetable or canola oil) to the Cast Iron pan and distribute evenly using your fingers or a clean paper towel. Make sure every inch of the surface of the pan is well coated, even up the sides.
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Different Types of oils you can use
- Vegetable oil
- Soybean oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Grapeseed oil
Transfer the pan to the hot oven and let “set in” for an hour. Turn off the oven and let the pan cool to room temperature. Wipe off the remaining excess oil. Your Cast Iron pan is now seasoned and ready to go!
How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet
Cast-Iron cookware takes little effort to keep clean once you know what you’re doing. Let’s start with what you don’t want to use:
- a pan soak in soapy water
- scrub brush
- steel wool
- aluminum foil
- oven cleaner
- abrasive scrubber
- pan scraper
- vinegar solution
- abrasive sponge
All you want to do is remove the leftover food residue without removing the pan’s seasoning. Think slow and gentle.
The best way to start is as soon as you’re done cooking and the hot pan cools, cover the pan’s surface of food particles, food bits, and debris with coarse salt such as kosher salt and a small amount and thin layer of oil. The next step would be to scrub the inside of the pan in a circular motion, using dry, clean paper towels, until the bits of food are removed. For really tough jobs use a slightly soaked paper towel (with hot water) or use metal utensils like a spatula to scrape it up.
That’s it! That’s how to shower your Cast Iron gem with love and attention. It’s easier than it sounds, but most people aren’t aware of the “rules” of owning a Cast Iron pan.
I’ll leave you with this….PLEASE use an oven mitt at all times. Cast Iron pans retain high heat for long periods and will quickly blister skin. Take it from me. It hurts…now don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This article is brought to you by Darcey from FoodieandWine. Darcey is well versed in the art of creating unforgettable dishes (such as Coconut Shrimp and Prime Rib) and overly serving brightly colored cocktails to guests!
When she’s not soaking in the San Diego sunshine or pouting about her lack of “British royalty” roots, she’s experimenting in the kitchen to develop the next FoodieandWine recipe.
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