When I got my first cast iron skillet, the upkeep seemed a little intimidating.
“Don’t put it in the dishwasher! Don’t use soap! Don’t use metal!”
And what the heck is seasoning, anyway???
I’ve since come to learn that it really shouldn’t be intimidating at all. I now have two cast iron skillets and use them both all the time. They are super sturdy and become great nonstick pans the more you cook with them.
Through both the seasoning process and as you cook, a layer of oil builds up that essentially becomes part of the skillet which makes it nonstick. (<– simplified, non-chemistry explanation :))
A cast iron skillet is a must-have in the kitchen and it’ll last a lifetime if you take some simple steps to care for it.
How to season a cast iron skillet:
Most cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned and ready to use. Some people think you should still season it yourself but I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong answer there.
When you buy a brand new skillet, it should say on the packaging if it’s been seasoned. If it hasn’t, here’s what you need to do to season it:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil all over the skillet.
- Place the skillet face down in the oven and place a cookie sheet on the rack beneath to catch any drips.
- Bake for one hour and then let the skillet cool in the oven. And now, you have a seasoned cast iron skillet. :)
How to clean a cast iron skillet:
Here’s what I do to clean my skillets:
- Rinse the skillet out as best you can.
- If there are any food bits still hanging on, sprinkle some kosher salt in the skillet. Use a wet paper towel to scrub the salt around removing the food bits; between the water and salt it should make sort of a gritty paste for scrubbing.
- Rinse out the salt and dry off the skillet.
- Rub a really thin layer of vegetable oil into the skillet, then store.
If there is some food bits that are being stubborn:
- Add water to the skillet, about ½” deep or so, and bring it to a boil.
- When the water heats up, scrape up the food bits.
- Pour out the water and dry the skillet immediately.
Other important things to remember:
- Don’t put your skillet in the dishwasher.
- Don’t leave your skillet to soak in water. Water + iron = rust
- I’ve never used my skillet for tomato sauce or other acidic sauces but I have read that it’s something to avoid.
- I also have yet to have one of my skillets rust but if you do see some rust on your skillet, I’ve read that you can scour the skillet really well, removing all the rust. Then re-season it and it should be good to go.
- I have used a thin metal spatula with my skillet with no problems. I think as long as you are not using excessive force, which could break off some of the seasoning, metal should be okay.
Recipe pictured above: Chipotle Sweet Potato Cakes