Cleaning / DIY / Household Hints / Uncategorized

How to Clean and Care for a Cast Iron Skillet

How to clean cast iron

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


5 thoughts on “How to Clean and Care for a Cast Iron Skillet

  1. I love my pans as well. I have two that I inherited and they are both as old ad I am. I bake cakes in them, cook eggs, gravy,casseroles, and just about everything. I season mine as you do but instead of using new oil I use old oil like from bacon or fried chicken or whatever I have on hand. It helps to seal in some sort of flavor. Great post

  2. I inherited my husband’s grandmother’s 10″ cast iron frying pan when my mother-in-law proclaimed it was too heavy for her to lift anymore (she was going to trash it). I absolutely love it and the fact that my middle daughter has already laid claim to the pan when the time comes to pass it along. Like you, it is my “go to” pan for anything from making eggs to browning a roast, or making gravy.

    • My favorite cast iron pan is heavy too but I leave it on my stove almost all the time so it is always ready to use. My best deep skillet with lid came from the farm estate of a lady in her late 90’s … I wonder how many fresh chicken or pork roasts have been made in it? It has many, many cooking years left. You can’t say that about many things made today!

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