My favorite pans to cook in are my cast iron skillets. I use them everyday. They are the most versatile and indestructible cookware that I know of. They are the best non stick type of pan as well…better than any of the most expensive teflon type pans in fact. They also add a bit of iron to our food which is something I’d prefer over adding a bit of aluminum.
They need to be seasoned to create the wonderful non stick effect. This is really easy to do and nothing to be afraid of.
First, I’ll address seasoning a new cast iron pan, then I will talk about cleaning and caring for older pans.
1. Congratulations, you bought a beautiful brand new cast iron pan! You are so smart! The manufacturer has coated the pan with a coating to keep it from rusting in the store. This needs to be scrubbed off before you first use the pan. So, squirt some soap in the pan and scrub it with a scrubby. Now, add a little water to the pan, just a 1/4 inch and put it on the burner to boil the water. After it is boiling, dump out the water and watch the remaining water evaporate.
2. Next, add a generous dollop of vegetable oil to the hot pan. Wipe it around with a paper towel. Wipe the inside and outside of the pan.
3. Put the oiled pan into a hot 350 degree oven. “Cook” the pan for a 1/2 hour or so then take it out. It is now seasoned and ready to be put to use…for the next 100 years or so!
Every time we use a cast iron pan, we add a bit of oil and heat it up so we are in a sense, seasoning it. The best way to maintain and season a pan is to cook in it, a lot!
Now, here is what you need to know about caring for an older pan.
Some people say that we should never use soap in a cast iron pan and we should never scrub it. They advocate a little salt to swish around and wipe it ‘clean’. Some people say that it is a crime to use water at all and all you should do is wipe the pan out with a paper towel and not wash it at all! Yuck! I have always use soap, a scrubby and lots of hot water. After, time and many family dinners, a fully seasoned pan will be simple to maintain.
1. First thing to do is to wash the pan just as you would wash any pan…with soap and water.
2. Now, scrub it well.
3. Next, add a bit of water to the pan, just a 1/4 inch will do. Put it on the stove and turn the burner to high.
4. Dump the boiling water into the sink and watch the remaining water evaporate.
5. Finally, after the water has evaporated, put a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the hot pan and wipe it with a paper towel. Truth be told, if you use your pan everyday, this step can be skipped more often than not. I do it about once every few weeks. But then again, I am seasoning my pan every time I cook so I guess that I am not really skipping this step.
Take care to never put a damp pan or dish nested inside a cast iron pan. It will rust and make a mess. If this happens, simply scrub off the rust and season it again with a little oil.
One more tip: To make the pan work like non-stick cookware, heat up the oil (and pan) before adding other ingredients. Food will stick to a cold pot but not to a hot one.
Done! Now get cooking! Try this wonderful corn bread recipe…I changed it a bit by putting the batter into my cast iron pan and popping it into the oven. The crust comes out golden and crispy. Yum!!
Enjoy the day! -Peg